We get questions about white plates all the time—it's one of the hardest things in label printing to really wrap your head around.


Looking for the basics? Check out: ‘What is a white plate and why does it matter?’. Looking to set one up yourself? See our step-by-step tutorial. If you're just looking to avoid the common misconceptions and missteps which can cause confusion and misprints, read on!

Using the right vocab; glossy laminates vs. metallic stocks

One of the small, everyday problems we run into with printing on metallic stocks is the vocabulary our clients use versus what we use. When we use 'glossy,' we're referring to the glossy laminate. When we use 'metallic,' we're referring to the stock and the areas of it that are visible in your design. This is an important distinction if you're looking to avoid confusion when letting us know which areas of your design should appear metallic.

Mixing up Adobe White and HPI-White

Adobe White is white stock without ink on it, (it’s a pre-set ink swatch in Adobe Illustrator that has zero CMYK values). If you use a White BOPP, the white areas on it (that are white in your artwork) would simply remain inkless—or Adobe White. HPI-White is the exact technical term used for white ink. It's what we use for white plates on metallic or clear stocks. HPI-White needs to be set up as a spot ink in Illustrator, so the press recognizes the name and knows to alert the machine to print the white ink.

Mixing up foils and metallic stock

These are two VERY different processes. Foils are add-ons. We carry them in a multitude of colours, and they're applied on top of your stock through hot or cold press processes. This kind of look is not achieved through ink or the original stock. With a Metallic stock—like met BOPP—the stock itself is metallic. The ink goes on top of the metallic stock to create opaque areas.

Trying to print black metallic

As soon as you put 100% black on a metallic, it becomes opaque. To have any level of metallic sheen, you have to bring down the black level until you're working with a grey. You'll never have a rich, metallic black.

Using a white plate behind black ink

There's no real issue with this one, it's just unnecessary, and it can be confusing for our staff (although we won’t reject it). Per the previous point, pure black is always opaque.

Forgetting to include white ink behind nutritional facts and barcode boxes

This is a pretty common mistake. When setting up a file in a design program, it’s easy to take it for granted that the areas that are white in your file will be white after printing. Always double check that white areas—like barcodes—have white ink behind them.

Figuring out your bright colours

You've got to remember that when it comes to metallic stocks, you're putting colour on top of a grey material - so nothing will look as bright and vibrant as it is on your screen. It's like using a completely different canvas - that's where the white comes in. Think about your white plate as a primer. You wouldn't try and paint a dark grey wall with a pretty light blue and expect it to turn out nice. Instead, you'd use a primer and paint over the top for a more brilliant colour match. It's the same idea here.

Using a gradient to indicate a metallic area in your artwork file

While we appreciate that it's easier to design when you use a gradient in your artwork to indicate metallics, please switch those swatches to solids when you submit your artwork. It's hard for us to tell if you want a graded colour job, or if you're trying to mark a metallic area. So, keep it, solid chums!

The last bit of advice we have to impart? Learn to read your pdf proofs and always, always, always check your proofs and white separations carefully. We do our best to catch problems before they become misprints, but a double check can save time and heartache.

You know what they say—double check twice, print once. Maybe only we say it…but seriously, it’s good advice.