Mysterious symbols

Mysterious symbols

We examined end papers in our last entry, and this text now can be easily taken as its continuation. The very interesting issue of print colours came up in connection with our discussion about end papers. To find out what “4+4” or “1+0” means (sometimes written as 4/4, 1/0) you don’t have to break any codes at all.

CMYK 4+0


As we all know, when printing anything, we operate within the CMYK palette environment. Simplifying things quite a bit, this means that each printed colour is made up of a precise configuration of the four basic colours. These are C – cyan, M – magenta, Y – yellow, K – key colour or blacK.
It is also obvious that a sheet of paper has two pages that can be printed on.
Thus we have all the data required to understand the puzzling symbols.
The numbers (the value of which does not exceed 4) separated by a plus (or a forward slash) denote the print colour in the CMYK space. The first number refers to the first page of the sheet, and the second number to the second one.

For example:
4+0 – the symbols mean that printing is to be done one page of the sheet, using all (i.e. four) components from the CMYK palette.
1+0 – we are dealing with printing on one page of the sheet, using only one component, e.g. K, i.e. black, or M, i.e. magenta.
0+0 – as you can easily guess, it means simply that the sheet is remain unprinted on both pages. Referring to our previous blog entry: customers will find these particular symbols in their print quotes when choosing to go for a white end paper or solid colour printing.

CMYK 4+1

Since the symbols are no longer black magic to us, it is definitely worth using them. When sending a request for a quote, you need to include information on the colours – in this case, for the end paper – that you expect to achieve. Thus, our printing house will receive an additional and important parameter for the quote. Consequently, this will tell us about your expectations as far as the end paper is concerned and save you (and the printing house ;)) the trouble of having to write and reply to more emails. Good communication is half the success.

Attentive readers!

You already know a little about end papers. We now have a puzzle for you: is it possible for the “4+4” symbols to be used in relation to the end paper?

Someone might rightly ask what the point would be in having both sides of the sheet printed on seeing that in a moment one of them will be covered with glue and glued to the inside of the publication’s cover? However, before you answer our question with a decisive “no”, take into your hand any hardcover book and look at the end paper again. If we treat the end paper as four-page folded sheet of paper, then we will see that the fourth page can be used freely – after all, only a small part of the end paper sheet is glued to the book block. Such publications – with a two-sided end paper – are made too, although not too frequently. We must only take into account that while the glue will bind paper to paper, or even the bookbinding cardboard, without any problems, the printing inks are a completely different story. The glue will not work on printed paper with the same effectiveness. Which is why we can’t fill the entire fourth page of the cover with graphics – the end paper wouldn’t stick to the book block successfully. The fourth page of the cover should have a 5 mm wide blank strip where the end paper is to be bound to the core of the book. However, if the person who created the file has missed this – it really doesn’t matter. Our technology adds this small margin automatically.

We hope that the above sheds some light on the mysterious symbols and they are no longer a mystery. The good news is this: they are universal and are used not only by our printing house and not only in relation to the end paper. When ordering any printed materials, this way of specifying the colour scheme will no longer leave anyone perplexed.

lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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