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How to use the Pantone system

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The Pantone solid color system, with over 1100 unique, numbered colors, was originally devised to help printers and designers specify and control colors for print projects. This is the most widely used Pantone palette, with colors sometimes referred to as 'PMS' (for Pantone Matching System) or 'spot colors', and is used in the graphics, print, and publishing, industries.

pantone guide

How a Graphic Designer uses the Pantone System:

A graphic designer is designing an identity package. She looks through a Pantone solid color formula guide (based upon the Pantone Matching System) until she finds a red color she likes.

pantone 199 chip

She really likes Pantone 199 Red. It's perfect for the client, and will be used as the primary color for the logo and any identity work that may follow

designers log0



She designs the logo, and specifies Pantone 199 red as the primary color for the logo and business cards. The client ok's the proofs, and the designer sends the job along to the printer, including a Pantone color chip for exact color reference.

job ticket



The printer looks up the color the designer specified (Pantone 199 Red) in the Pantone formula guide, and specifies that color on the job ticket.

ink mixing formula


When the job goes to the press, the press operator finds that color (Pantone 199 Red) in their Pantone guide. There is a mixing formula in the guide (circled) for the press operator to follow.

printer mixes pantone 199 red ink


The press operator takes 12 oz. of Pantone Rubine Red ink, and 4 oz. of Pantone Yellow ink, and mixes them together. The resulting ink is Pantone 199 Red.

pressman running press


Using the ink they just mixed, their Pantone formula guide, and the Pantone color chip as a color standard, the press operator will print the business cards, continually checking color against the Pantone formula guide.


finished product matches


With the Pantone matching system, color consistency is guaranteed, from design to client, to pre press, through the pressroom, to final delivery.
It's that simple.


  More info about Pantone solid formula guides and chips

pantone guide

How a Fashion Designer uses the Pantone Textile color system

A fashion designer is designing a new line of men's casual clothing. She looks through a Pantone fashion and home color guide, which contains over 1,900 textile colors, until she finds a color she likes.
pantone 199 chip She really likes Pantone 17-3619 TPX, Hyacinth . It's the perfect color for one of the casual tops. She submits her line to her client, and they approve the color she has selected. The client specifies Hyacinth Purple 17-3619 for one of the tops in their new line, and sends their initial order to their overseas manufacturer.
The overseas manufacturer custom dyes a lot of of fabric. They use their Pantone for fashion and home color guide to match the color the customer specified, as well as quality contol the dyeing process.
This fabric is send to the cutting and sewing team, and they produce the initial order of 2000 pieces and ship to their customer.
shirt matches

With the Pantone for fashion and home matching system, color consistency is guaranteed, from design to client, to overseas manufacturing, to final delivery.
It's that simple.

More info on Pantone for fashion and home-guides and books

process palette

How the Pantone Process System Works

The process palette consists of more than 3,000 color variations digitally created with CMYK process printing. Process printing requires the use of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black ink. All colors in this palette start with DS and contain hypenated numbers, from DS-1-1 thru DS- 334-9 and may be followed by a C (coated) or U (uncoated). These guides are only suitable for four-color process printing, and are used to design color build using CMYK, in various combinations.

More info on Pantone process guides

color bridge

Sometimes, projects are designed in 4/C process as well as pantone solid colors. The Pantone Color Bridge is a handy tool for comparing solid Pantone colors to their CMYK equivalents, as well as RGB and HTML values for the Pantone solid colors.

More info on the Pantone color bridge

goe guide

How The Goe System Works

The PANTONEĀ® Goe system is a new Pantone solid palette, and contains 2,058 new solid colors. This new palette is not intended to replace the existing PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM. Instead, with the addition of the PANTONE Goe Library and its supporting publications, it will add a whole new dimension of spot color possibilities.


opq chips




plastic chips


How Pantone Plastics work

The Plastic palette consists of of over 1740 transparent and opaque plastic color chips. These chips are conveniently arranged in three ring binders, and each chip has three levels of thickness, to display different levels of transparency. Plastic selectors are offered in either opaque (Q) or transparent (T) . An example of an opaque color would be Q200-2-4. These chips are selected by the designer, and then specified to the manufacturer or fabricator.

More info on the Pantone plastic chips.