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Spot Colors/CMYK

18 Jul, 2008 McKell Naegle

Recently I have worked with a lot of customers explaining the benefits of printing with PMS colors, so I thought I would share a snippet of information on what a PMS color is versus CMYK. I hope you find the information below helpful.

Spot colors, also known as “Pantone” or “PMS” are special colors printed from a single ink on a press. These colors are pre-mixed for the printers and come in just about any color you can think of. The best part about using PMS or a spot color is that you can always have a consistent color with minimal variation. Spot colors are applied to one area or “spot” instead of using a 4-color process to create a color.

Process or a 4-color print process is a process that uses a combination of inks C,M,Y,K – which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Depending on what color is desired, these colors are separated into printing plates, one for each color and then printed – the overlapping dots of the colors generate a color image.

As your project is designed, it is a good idea to ask how many PMS colors are used or if the design will be using a four-color process. There are definite cost and quality differences between printing with PMS colors instead of a four-color process or a combination of both. As a general rule adding a spot color will increase the cost but will also allow you to keep a consistent color throughout all of your printed materials.

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