How to Setup White Ink in Adobe InDesign

Setting up your file for white ink is just like setting up any other spot color. What’s different is how you will adjust the color between the design phase and final print output.

This tutorial uses Adobe InDesign CC 2015; however, the process is the same in newer and older versions.


Step 1 | Prepare Your Document for Design

While we don’t provide product templates for Adobe InDesign, we have absolutely no problem receiving InDesign Files for Print (as long as all linked images and fonts are included). When setting up your document make sure that your Bleed settings are at least 0.125”, you can find all settings under the Bleed & Slug section of the New Document pop-up window.

Designing with the default White (Paper) swatch in InDesign will make preparing your file for print extremely difficult. The paper swatch appears white, but it actually tells the computer the area has no ink. This is why it’s important to start designing with a custom white spot color swatch.

Keep in mind that transparency effects (like Multiply or Screen) with either the colored stock or the white inks will not print.

Since our inks are transparent, we also print white ink as a backer behind all of your colors. However, white ink is neither perfectly white nor perfectly opaque. As a result, each colored stock will impact your artwork differently. To help, we’ve created hi-res scans of all our standard colored stocks for reference. These include the complete CMYK gamut along with white-to-transparent gradients. We recommend referencing these before finalizing your artwork.


Step 2 | Create a Spot Color

Create a new swatch as a Spot Color for your White Ink: Click on the top, right fly-out menu of the Swatches panel (to open the swatches panel: Window > Swatches) and select New Swatch.

  • InDesign Swatch1 White InkName: White Ink
  • Color Type: Spot Color
  • Color Mode: CMYK
  • Adjust all your color sliders to the left so that all CMYK values = 0.
  • Enjoy your new White spot color!



Step 3 | Finalize Your Artwork

Finalize your design using your new white spot swatch for any areas you want white inks to print.

While we work our keisters off to give your consistent results from the screen to your final print, color matching cannot be guaranteed on our colored stocks. Even the paper hues shift slightly from batch to batch.


Step 4 | Print-Ready Files

Ok, so your artwork looks like it should on screen right now, but, your files will NOT be print ready unless you adjust the color build of your new white spot color. During output, InDesign will see your white spot color as “no ink” and leave out that data.

  • InDesign Swatch2 White InkSelect your White spot swatch in the Swatches Panel (Window > Swatches).
  • Click the Swatch Panel’s Flyout Menu at the top, right of the panel.
  • Select Swatch Options…
  • Using the Color Sliders, change your White build to something bold and obvious, like 100% Magenta or 100% Cyan. (We used 100% Magenta for this example)
  • Your design most likely looks terrible now. Don’t worry, we’ll fix that on our end.


To ensure your white ink does not knock-out any other printing colors beneath it, it’s best to set all white ink objects to Overprint.

  • Select all objects printing white.
  • Open the Attributes window (Window > Output > Attributes)
  • Select Overprint Fill and Overprint Stroke (If objects have stroke applied to them)

InDesign Attributes White Ink


Step 5 | Outputting The File For Print

Let’s export the file as a PDF for print! Exporting a PDF can save you the steps of gathering or packaging your assets from your InDesign file.

  • InDesign Export White InkSelect File > Export…
  • Name your File
  • Format: Adobe PDF (Print)
  • Click Save
  • Set the Adobe PDF Preset to: [PDF/X-1a:2001]
  • Under the Marks and Bleeds tab, make sure that your Bleed settings are at least 0.125”.
  • Click Export

Step 6 | Place an order

Congratulations, you’re all set! Visit our website to place an order or call us at (877-246-3132)

If you come up with any effects you want to test out with white ink or have any questions about how to use it, feel free to contact us. We love talking ink so we’d be more than happy to help you create the unique effect you’re looking for.