FAQ Pantone

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What is PANTONE?

What is a PMS guide?

How many types of PMS guides are there?

How do I know what type of PANTONE guide I need?

What is the difference between spot and process color

What is the difference between fan guides and chip guides?

How often should I replace my guide?

Where can I find the Solid to Process Guide?

Why is the swatch for a specific PMS number different in my guide different than the swatch in another Pantone® guide?


What is PANTONE?
PANTONE® is the standard language for color identification and communication and the worldwide expert on color. PANTONE color guides allow clients, designers, and manufacturers to select, specify, match, and control color in many diverse applications.

For detailed info on Pantone® please go to their website:pantone link purple


What is a PMS guide?
PANTONE Matching System® is the industry standard for selecting, matching, and mixing color. The PANTONE System utilizes 11 basic colors to achieve over 1000 different colors that are used by printers and art departments. The basic colors are yellow, warm red, rubine red, rhodamine red, purple, violet, reflex blue, process blue, green, black, and transparent white, which looks clear (see illustration below).

Figure 1  11 Basic PANTONE Colors

Pantone bases

The PANTONE Matching System® Color Guide is an indispensable tool for printers and designers. The guide provides swatches for all of the colors in the PANTONE System. In addition to the 11 basic colors which are in the front of the book, there are the process colors used in 4 color process printing, then the hundreds of colors that can be mixed from the basics, and finally the fluorescent and metallic colors. Each of the mixed colors is assigned a PMS number. The first number assigned for a mixed color is 100 and the numbering proceeds up from that point. The instructions for mixing the color are listed below the color swatch. 

PANTONE also issues a digital color guide for electronic publishing which lists the color formulas in a format necessary for the colors to be displayed on a computer screen.

Note: Any PANTONE Color Guide should be replaced after a year, because the printed colors in the guide will shift or fade and no longer be a true representation of the actual colors. If you require that service, GF Enterprises can remind you once a year has elapsed after the purchase of a colour guide.

How many types of PMS guides are there?
There are four main types or categories of Pantone® guides available:

1. Solids, also known as Spot colors, or PMS colors. The Solid numbers appear as three or four digit numbers and may have a C (coated), or a U (uncoated) after the number.

PANTONE Formula Guide C/U is the most common solids guide.

Metallics is part of the Solids palette but has its own guide.
The numbers are of the 8000 series.
To proceed to our PANTONE Metallics page please follow this link.

Pastels is part of the Solids palette but has its own guide.
The numbers are of the 9000 series.
To proceed to our PANTONE Pastel page please follow this link.

2. Color Bridge. In the Color Bridge conversion guide the Solid colors are listed down the left side of the page with their corresponding 4-color Process formulas down the right side of the page. Some Solid colors translate well into 4-color process and some do not. The Color Bridge is offered in fan guide format in coated and uncoated versions.
To proceed to our PANTONE Color Bridge page please follow this link.

3. Textiles, which is divided into two different divisions, PANTONE for fashion and home, and PANTONE Architecture and Interiors. The textile numbers appear as two digits, a hyphen, and then four digits, and may be followed by TP (textile paper), TPX (textile paper-latest edition), or TC (textile cotton).

4. Plastics, which offers two types of chips, opaque or transparent. Plastic numbers will have either a Q (opaque) or a T (transparent) in front of them and appear as three digits, a hyphen, one digit, a hyphen, one digit.

How do I know what type of PANTONE guide I need?
Although the person requesting a PANTONE guide should know what type of guide they require, in most cases when the type of guide needed is not clear, the basic PANTONE Formula Guide C/U GP1201 is usually the one required.

What is the different between Spot and Process color?
Solid or "Spot" colors are printed with a single color, using a PANTONE solid color ink. Process colors are printed using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black inks, on a four-color Process printing press or digital press.

For more info see: http://www.tomjewett.com/colors/spot.html

What is the difference between fan guides and chip guides?
Fan guides have "fan out" pages, and contain a color sample of the specified PANTONE color. Chips books are in three ring binders, and contain a color sample of the specified PANTONE color, with six tear out chips of each color.

How often should I replace my guide?
We recommend replacing the guides once every year or so. The ink on the guides is subject to fading over time. Of course, this depends on the type of usage your guide receives. With heavy usage and exposure to light, yes, once a year is not too often. With lighter usage and not much exposure to light, most customers replace their guides every couple of years.

Where can I find the Solid to Process Guide?
The Solid to Process Guide has been replaced with the new PANTONE color bridge.

Why is the swatch for a specific PMS number different in my guide different than the swatch in another Pantone® guide?
There is multitude of reasons why one color may vary from the same color number in another guide. Firstly, the year and printing edition of the books may differ. Pantone® has made certain changes over the years with regards to the type of paper and ink film thickness of their PANTONE colors, in addition the pigments my fade or change over time and use. One must also be aware that despite the expertise of Pantone® at managing color, their color guides must be considered truly as a guide and very good color reference and communication tool, but not a color standard in the true sense. When precise color specification is required we recommend the use of PANTONE chip color specifier to ensure precise color communication between parties. Good communication between designer, printer and ink manufacturer is very important in order to achieve the desired finished product.

PANTONE® and other PANTONE, Inc. trademarks are the property of PANTONE, Inc.

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