Skip to main contentClick to view our Accessibility Statement or contact us with accessibility-related questions.

White: A Surprisingly Complex Colour

The colour white can symbolise many emotions, from peace to hope to newness and a fresh start. The science behind printing it is no less complex.

White represents many contradictory feelings: fear and hope, celebrating new beginnings and mourning the dead, sand and snow, and other opposites. “The more you talk about white, the more complicated it gets,” says Rhode Island School of Design professor, James Goggin.

White Comes in Many Shades from New Sneakers to Fresh Snow: How Xerox Renders a Most Complex Color YouTube Video

"We turn to white when things are extreme, when they're big,” adds Jeff Goodby, founder of the advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. He knows the colour well—he came up with the iconic “Got Milk?” ads. “White might be the most evocative colour because it can take on so many different forms,” says Goodby.

In digital printing, Xerox white toner brings incredible versatility to the page. You can layer it on top of colour paper stock for spot embellishments, put CMYK on top of it, and mix it with specialty colours to create an entirely new colour. “Our white opens it up for artists and designers to do a lot,” says Xerox scientist Yat Ming-Wong.

Xerox’s white toner also makes a statement. “We have the brightest white,” says Xerox Colour Imaging Manager Beatriz Custode. That is achieved by putting down three times as much ink mass as competitors. On the numerical measurement scale, a blinding white is 100 and paper white is in the 90s. “We measure around the 80s,” says Custode. “Competitive products measure around the 70s.”

Among artists, designers, and storytellers, the blank white page can induce anxiety, that element you must inevitably wrestle with to bring your creative ideas to life. Goody recommends taking a different, contradictory view: welcome the empty space and embrace the constraints. “It's a wonderful thing to jump in and give it character and colour,” he says. “Or to just leave it alone and let it breathe.

Watch More from Our Colour Series

What's the real color of a tennis ball? Science has the answer. YouTube Video
one pixel
Stylized picture of a wolf with gold metallic ink

Graphic and Print Design Brilliance

Go beyond CMYK with digital printing.

Black and white photo of a white horse, with the word "Equine"

Award-winning White Dry Ink

Award-winning ink’s striking contrast proves special effects aren’t just for Hollywood.

Spiral bound books with brightly colored covers and pages

Xerox® Beyond CMYK Production Portfolio

Vision shouldn’t be limited by colour. See how we can help you turn challenges into opportunities that go beyond CMYK.