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Pantone Spot Color

This article gives a detailed explanation Pantone spot color.

Sometimes, a specific color must be reproduced exactly the same every time it is printed (for example, a corporate logo). If that color were created through the standard application of 4 separate colors of ink (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) during the 4-color printing process, it would exhibit very slight color variance between different print runs.

The only way to make sure a specific color looks exactly the same every time it is printed is to use what is known as a spot color. When using a spot color, the ink is pre-mixed to match the specified color, and is applied via its own printing plate. The most common way of specifying the exact color to be matched is by using the Pantone Color Matching System:

Pantone Spot Color Swatches

Because these colors can be made on their own without needing to consist of just Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, the color range of Pantone inks is far wider than the standard CMYK gamut, and it can include specialty inks such as metallic or fluorescent colors. Pantone colors are usually indicated by referring to their code: for example PMS 3245 is a bright, seafoam green.

Using spot colors always adds significant cost to an order, since they require prepress, printing plate manufacturing, press setup, and a press run for the extra color of ink to be applied. Metallic and specialty inks are also more expensive than standard 4 color process inks. However, when you need an exact color for branded materials like logos, or a specialty color that can’t be created by CMYK, they’re a great option.

The book to utilize when selecting your color is the PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE Solid Coated (or Uncoated if the stock is uncoated)”. It’s important to note that we have a limited standard color selection for metallic inks, neon inks, and pastel inks. You can see the standard metallic ink color selections on this page here. Below are the standard offerings we have for neon and pastel inks:


  • PMS Yellow 0131
  • PMS Red 0331
  • PMS Magenta 0521
  • PMS Violet 0631
  • PMS Blue 0821
  • PMS Green 0921
  • PMS Black 0961


  • PMS 801 – Neon Blue
  • PMS 802 – Neon Green
  • PMS 803 – Neon Yellow
  • PMS 804 – Neon Orange
  • PMS 805 – Neon Red
  • PMS 806 – Neon Pink
  • PMS 807 – Neon Violet

If you would like a neon or pastel ink outside of our above standard offerings, you will need to reach out to Customer Service or your Account Manager to make sure we can apply your unique color. Be prepared to send along the Pantone PMS color.

Note: Pantone spot color printing is traditionally associated with offset printing, but in some cases digital offset can emulate Pantone colors.