Home > About SWOP
Over the last thirty years SWOP has become a major
factor in the success of the Publication Printing Industry
in the United States. This has been a result of a combination
of attainable goals, dedicated people driving the process
and an industry willing to improve itself. The resulting
recommended specifications are for the use of all those
involved in the production of publications - including
the advertiser, publisher, printer, advertising agency
and prepress service supplier.
History of SWOP
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as web offset printing
of publications started to become popular and then predominate,
it became obvious that the supplied input materials
(proofs and film) were difficult for printers to match
on press. Under these circumstances prepress service
providers did their best, but without any specifications
they merely were guessing at what the printer required.
The situation was chaotic and getting worse. Printers
were unable to run advertisements supplied from various
sources in line with each other on the same press form
and found it difficult to satisfy the advertiser's quality
In late 1974 a group of concerned industry experts
met informally to explore the possibility of forming
a committee to write specifications for material supplied
to web offset publications. This is where the initial
set of specifications that would become Specifications
for Web Offset Publications - and its acronym, SWOP
- were first envisioned. Several key dates stand out
in the publication printing industry during the evolution
of SWOP. In 1986 the SWOP Specifications booklet included
guidelines for web printing of publications. In the
1993 edition of the booklet, SWOP addressed specifications
for electronic fi le preparation and transfer of graphic
arts data in a digital workflow. In 1997 and 1998 SWOP
addressed the emergence of computer-to-plate as an important
production method for publication printers across the
country. This was addressed in the booklet's eighth
edition and in a subsequent brochure, "Digital
Specifications and Requirements." Here the issues
of standardizing fi le formats and digital proofing
were first introduced. Throughout its history, SWOP
has played a key role in helping the printing industry
adapt to new technologies while continuing to ensure
SWOP as part of
In 2004, SWOP and IDEAlliance formed a coalition to
support print media through the coordinated development
of standardized specifications and guidelines, certification
programs, software tools, educational seminars, and
peer support networks. In 2005, SWOP, Inc. merged with
IDEAlliance. The merger provided new
resources to support SWOP modernization.
In February 2006, IDEAlliance announced the adoption
of a new #3 grade paper (such as Fortune Gloss)
favored by many as their proofing stock of choice
for monthly publications as an approved SWOP paper stock
in addition to the traditional #5 grade
groundwood publication printing paper.
Errata, updating the
SWOP Specifications to include the #3 grade paper, were
The inclusion of a brighter #3 grade paper
was a significant move toward SWOP modernization.
At the same time, IDEAlliance
announced that SWOP would adopt the new G7™
calibration, printing and proofing process control
G7™ methodology grew out of the recent research and
development efforts of the IDEAlliance GRACoLâ
defines gray balance and target
neutral print density curves for three-color gray
and black as the primary method for color control as
opposed to the current SWOP methods that focus on ink
density and TVI (formerly known as dot gain) on a
prescribed paper stock.
This shift in digital calibration methodology
represents a significant step toward SWOP modernization
because it establishes a new foundation upon which to
update the specification.
As part of IDEAlliance’s
commitment to support the update of SWOP specifications,
the Print Properties Committee initiated a series of
research and development efforts to provide a scientific
basis for modernizing SWOP.
These efforts included a series of press runs on
web presses to develop an idealized characterization
data set for both the #5 and #3 grade papers.
These runs are noteworthy because for the first
time publication press runs on web presses will serve as
the basis for defining the specifications for both SWOP
proofing and SWOP printing.
Following the G7™ methods
using spectrophotometry and CTP, the outcome will be a
new visual-appearance-based SWOP specification designed
to enable printers quickly and accurately replicate the
visual appearance of imagery from proof to press.
The initial web press runs were
conducted at Rochester Institute of Technology,
Quad/Graphics and Brown Printing in Spring 2006. The
final data from these press runs has been used to
mathematically derive ideal
neutral print density curves for three-color gray
and black that will be published as the new SWOP 2007
These new characterization data sets are also
being submitted through the IDEAlliance Print Properties
Committee to CGATS for consideration as a new Technical
Report TR 003 and TR 005.
The mission of SWOP is to
continually raise the level of quality of publication
printing by setting forth specifications, tolerances and
functional, experienced-based compliance procedures.
In order to compete and create value for print
media, as of 2006, SWOP will concentrate on business and
education dynamics rather than technical to advance the
transition of the print media industry to any new mode
of content creation and dissemination.