What is a Pantone Colour Reference?

Since the 1960s, Pantone has provided a standardised system for designers to reproduce colours accurately on paper. The Pantone colour matching system includes more than 1,000 colours, which are assigned their own names and reference numbers. It was developed to make spot printing more accurate, and is still the best and most vibrant method of printing in colour, while printing in digital CMYK offers a cheaper alternative.

If you have a company logo, it is good to know its exact Pantone reference so that all of your branded materials look the same and maintain consistency across different assets such as business cards, brochures or signage. A design agency will already have decided what your logo's pantone is if they have created it, so they can guide you on the exact colour number, so you can use the same colour for different collateral.

While you can use specialist tools like Adobe Illustrator to find this information, you can also quickly identify Pantone colour using free tools. Our web designers are used to finding this information - here's how to do it:


Using Illustrator to find your Pantone Colour Reference

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor software developed by Adobe. Adobe Photoshop allows image and photograph manipulation, Illustrator lends itself well to vector and logo design.

To find your pantone using Adobe Illustrator:

  1. Open your logo EPS file in Illustrator
  2. Select coloured area of logo
  3. Select window > colour and swatches
  4. Colour box reveals your pantone reference, for example: Pantone 2975C (C = coated, U = uncoated)
  5. If the colour box does not give you a pantone reference it will show a CMYK breakdown. If you want a pantone colour, your creative agency will help you to find the closest match.


A note on Close Matches

Pantone was a very important system when different colours were printed separately to build up an image on paper. Modern digital printers use CMYK, and web designers use HEX references. So, if you don't find an exact Pantone match, it's not the end of the world.

But there are two things to remember to keep your branding materials and assets consistent. First, make sure you have a definitive reference for the colour, regardless of the system that you're using. And second, try to stick to the same system all of the time; avoid converting the image repeatedly. This can result in colour alterations, and can affect the final appearance of the image.

Have a burning question or just generally fancy having a chat with a design agency that know their stuff? Give our friendly team a call today, we'll be more than happy to help!

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Written by Charlotte Green May of 2016