Reverse Prints vs. Positive Prints

Positive and negative printed tapes

It’s something we hear again and again from our customers when choosing custom printed tape designs.

“We want to use the black tape Amazon uses.”

If you’ve ever received a box from Amazon, you know what we’re describing: black tape with the company’s name in tan and blue.

However, this tape isn’t black. It is a tan tape, printed with black and blue ink, allowing the original tape color to form the copy.

This is a process known as reverse printing, which is the opposite of positive printing, the traditional style of printing tape.

Positive Printed tapePositive print vs. reverse print

Positive print accounts for a majority of what we do. It’s a custom printed tape design that’s created by printing copy or images directly onto the tape, with the color of the tape serving as the background color.

Reverse printing is print that’s created by printing the background behind the image, leaving the original tape color to form the copy or imagery.

Begative printed tape

You can see an example of this in the Bushwick Tea tape illustration on this page. The tape is white, with black ink that forms the outlines of the lettering and fills the background entirely. The remaining white space on the tape supplies the copy and imagery.

Reverse printing makes for a bold, dramatic look.  Usually, our customers start with a light color tape, such as white, tan, or clear, and choose any range of inks to use as the reverse print.   The contrast between the dark and light colors gives the printed tape a strong visual appeal.

A reverse print can have 2 types of looks: a reverse print/non-bleed where the print has a non-printed margin along the edge of the tape; and a reverse print/full bleed, where the ink goes all the way to the edge of the tape.

Flood coats

Flood full bleed printed tape

Let’s say a customer wants the entire surface of the tape to be a specific color, aside from one of the standard tape colors.

We print the entire length and width of the tape in the customer’s chosen ink, then use a second ink to print the logo on top. This is a process known as flood coating.

Flood coating works best when the 2nd ink is darker than the flood coating ink. A good example of a flood coat is the blue Chocolate and red Strawberry flood coated tapes illustrated here.

Deciding whether to use a reverse print or a flood-coated print can be based on what the final look should be.  If the customer wants a red background with white lettering the best option would be a reverse print since printing white ink on a red background would create pink lettering.

Regardless of what type of print you choose, two things remain true when picking custom printed tape:

  1. The better image quality and higher resolution of the art file you provide your printer, the better the final print
  2. Phoenix Tape can print amazing logos and images using both positive and reverse printing methods, using up to three inks with both standard and custom colors. We offer printing on a variety of tape types including PVC, polypropylene, and paper.

If you’d like to know more about our printing options, contact Phoenix Tape. We’ve spent decades helping businesses like yours promote their brands and keep their products safe. Whether you’re seeking positive print or reverse, we can find the right custom printed tape solution for you.