Does Microsoft Word Support CMYK Images?

What to Do When You Want to Take Your Color Doc to a Commercial Printer

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Microsoft Word is a popular software program, especially in businesses, for creating letterhead, reports, newsletters and other typical business materials. The documents print to a desktop printer just fine, regardless of the color images.

The problem with using Word for documents with color images occurs when the user wants to take that electronic file to a commercial printer for offset printing. Color images are printed in four-color process inks—CMYK—which are loaded onto the printing press. The print provider must separate the color images in the document into only CMYK before printing it.

Microsoft Word does not support CMYK images directly in its files. Word uses the RGB color format, but there is a workaround to this problem.

The CMYK Workaround

The lack of CMYK support in Word is one of the reasons why you shouldn't use it to create documents for color printing on an offset press. If it is too late, and you've spent long days or nights slaving over your electronic file, here is one possible way to save it.

  1. Save your Word file as a PDF. Printers like PDFs.
  2. Ask your printer if he has Adobe Acrobat or a proprietary software that can convert an RGB color scheme PDF to the CMYK required for printing. This is likely because PDFs are common in the commercial printing industry.

Even if the answer is yes, may still be problems with the document's colors, but it's a big step in the right direction. Contact your commercial printing supplier and ask him upfront if this is the best approach or if he has an alternate suggestion. 


If you need to know which programs you should use to create documents for offset printing, determine the best desktop publishing software for your needs. Even Microsoft recommends using Publisher over Word for material to be commercially printed. Recent releases of Publisher have improved commercial printing options including color models such as Pantone spot colors and CMYK.