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You may have noticed the phrase “Pantone Color” or “Spot Color” used while discussing printed projects, but what do these terms mean?

First, we’ll need to discuss spot colors. In the past, printing was done via an offset press, a piece of equipment that printed from plates. Each of these plates can be made from various materials and represents one of the four colors in CMYK printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These four colors are layered on top of one another to create a wide spectrum of colors.

However, this process can’t replicate all the colors we can see with the human eye. Some vivid hues like bright orange and royal blue can look muted using CMYK printing. In these cases where an out-of-range color is needed, the printer can add an extra plate that contains a special ink formulated to that color. This extra color ink is called a “spot color”, and the term has stuck around after the advances of digital printing.

Pantone colors are different from spot colors. Pantone is an independent company that sets a standard for color-matching, and it is the most widely-used standard in printing. Pantone has generated a long list of standardized colors and sells palette swatch booklets to printers. That way, the printer can compare their output to the swatch book and ensure the color remains accurate throughout a single print run or between separate print runs.

This is especially important for logos or other brand colors. When creating a layout or design, your graphic designer will consult with you on a Pantone color selection in order to maintain consistency in future print projects.

Many Pantone colors can still be created using the standard CMYK process, without needing to use a Spot Color plate in offset printing. In digital printing (rather than offset), the color spectrum is often a bit larger than offset, and even more colors can be recreated using the standard CMYK printing.

Our team would be happy to help you standardize your colors and select a Pantone match for your printed pieces! Please contact us today to discuss your project.

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