Pantone Color System

The Pantone color system is the industry standard book of color swatches for graphic designers. They have reference numbers that you can give to the printer, who will ready-make inks to match these numbers. When designing for print, a common issue faced by designers is the color seen on the monitor, versus how it prints on paper. Using Pantone colors ensures your design will turn out as you intended.

The Pantone books come in a variety of formats, made for different papers such as coated and matte. For this reason, it is important to talk to your printer first about what paper will be used, so you can refer to the correct book. Please do keep in mind that the swatches are for determining solid colors (like you logos), and can’t guarantee your photos (which can contain millions of colors) will print as desired. For this reason, it’s a good idea to get a proof from a printer before they finish the job.

You can purchase the nifty little books directly from Pantone or most books-sellers (online or locally).




WATCH: Fun introduction to the history of Pantone colors


WATCH: Inside the Pantone Color Factory


To access Pantone colors in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, follow these simples steps:

  • Illustrator: Open your swatches palette. Next go to your flyout menu and choose: “Open Swatch Library” >”Color Books” > and pick the “Pantone” book of your choice.
  • InDesign: Open your swatches palette. Next, go the flyout menu and choose: “New Color Swatch.” Within the window that pops up, you can choose any of the Pantone color books using the “color mode” dropdown.