Overprinting refers to the process of printing one colour on top of another in reprographics. This is closely linked to the reprographic technique of 'trapping'. Another use of overprinting is to create a rich black (often regarded as a colour that is "blacker than black") by printing black over another dark colour.[1][2]

without trapping
with trapping

Comparison of a knock-out with and without trapping, and overprinting for perfect and imperfect registration. Rows are as follows:
  1. The cyan (lighter) plate,
  2. The magenta (darker) plate,
  3. Result with perfect registration (some monitors show slight misalignment), and
  4. Result with imperfect registration.

It is also the term used in the production of envelopes customised to order by printing images (such as logos) and texts (such as slogans) on mass-produced machine-made envelopes; the alternative way of producing such envelopes is to print "on the flat" and then cut out the individual shapes and fold them to form the envelopes.[citation needed] However the latter method is generally only economically viable for large print runs offering returns to scale.[citation needed]

Overprinting also refers to the printing of additional information onto self-adhesive labels and product packaging. "Best Before", "Use By" dates and batch codes are printed in situ onto product packaging as the items are packed. Generally thermal printers, ink jet printers or laser printers are used.


  1. ^ Craig, James; Scala, Irene Korol (16 May 2012). Designing with Type, 5th Edition: The Essential Guide to Typography. Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8230-8560-6. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  2. ^ Cohen, Sandee (10 July 2012). InDesign CS6: Visual QuickStart Guide. Peachpit Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-13-300610-0. Retrieved 29 September 2021.