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Use of Pantone vs CMYK in Printing​

Many clients have asked us what the difference between Pantone and CMYK color ink is. Printing is a complicated mix of paper style and color mixing, but we will explain it in layman’s terms.


For the printing industry to have a color standard the Pantone (PMS) system was created. It is premixed to the color and printed from a dedicated printing plate on the press. The use of Pantone color is referred to as a spot color. You can print a wider range of colors, like silver and gold, which is not achievable through CMYK.  Pantone is best suited for solid colors on logos and other marketing materials.


CMYK is made up of 4 colors - cyan, magenta, yellow and black.  Each color is printed on paper separately and layered on top of each other. CMYK colors can vary depending on the angle of application, paper stock, printer and amount of ink coverage. CMYK is best for the printing of photos or other multi-color graphics.


Pantone colors allow a company to ensure color consistency throughout all their marketing materials.  Without the consistency you can see websites that don’t have the same colors as business cards, brochures that don’t match the trade show booth. Pantone colors can be converted to CMYK colors, however the colors have a tendency to loose their brightness.


If you have any questions regarding printing or color contact Waterfront Graphic Design at 608-669-4677.

 608.669.4677        W10994 Eagle Drive, Lodi, WI 53555

Located 30 minutes north of Madison, WI, on beautiful Lake Wisconsin.

We were honored to be awarded the Small Business of the Year award from the Lodi & Lake Wisconsin Chamber.