Pantone Colors: What They Are and How to Use Them

What makes Pantone color different from other colors? Unlock the secrets of Pantone colors and find out how artists use them in both print and web designs.

Pantone colors are a set of spot colors that follow the Pantone Matching System (PMS). These colors are extremely important to the design and manufacturing process, as they create a common and standardized language for designers to use when communicating exact colors to manufacturers, partners, retailers, and customers. Many designers and manufacturers use this standard.

The Pantone Matching System was originally created in 1963 to create a standard of colors for printing. Now they are also used on the web. Though converting colors from the screen to print will never match perfectly, Pantone has released many tools for designers that let them closely transfer Pantone colors between digital and print uses.

How Do Pantone Colors Work?

Pantone colors are a standard, fixed number of colors. There are over 1,000 Pantone colors that cover the spectrum, and each has a specific name. In order to bridge the gap for printers, there are a special subset of Pantone colors that are reproducible with CMYK. However, the majority of Pantone colors are not reproducible by CMYK.

How Do Designers and Manufacturers Stay Consistent with Color Choices?

To maintain consistency, designers scour Pantone color formula guides for the color they want. Once they choose the color that best fits their design, they simply specify the number of the Pantone color to the manufacturer or printer with their design. The manufacturer then takes this number and follows the Pantone guide to replicate it. The designer or organization can easily confirm the Pantone color with a small swatch. This is the simplest way to guarantee color matching across organizations and simplify quality control.

Why Do We Use Pantone Colors?

Pantone colors bring precision to manufacturing, design, and textiles. With these colors, it is perfectly clear what color you are getting, and it is easy to verify with a Pantone swatch and the associated Pantone number. Color matching is standardized so that it is easy to communicate and get the right color every time.

Every year, Pantone chooses a Color of the Year to align the branding, marketing, and creative processes of designers across the world. Pantone even dedicates significant market research into color trends to forecast the best color for the next year. For 2019, the color of the year was Living Coral, a beautiful pink and orange hue that’s replicated across a lot of makeup and clothing styles in fashion today.

Article originally appeared and courtesy of

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