Pantone Colour Number Meanings

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In Cubic Promote, we use 2 systems to communicate colour. The first system is CMYK, and the second system is Pantone Colour (or PMS colour for short). The CMYK language applies when we speak on all topics relating to full-colour digital prints. The Pantone colour is the language of colour when we communicate specific shades of colour. Very useful when identifying the correct print colours on promotional products.

The Pantone system of colour language is international. This allows designers from all around the world to communicate a precise understanding of colours regardless of whether you are from China, Brazil or Australia. In this article, we will explore what the Pantone Colour Number means.

pantone colour chart

Meaning of Pantone Colour Numbers

When it comes to choosing colours for your brand or product, there's a lot to consider. But have you ever wondered what those numbers and letters on the Pantone colour chip actually mean?

Here's a quick guide to understanding Pantone colour numbers:

  • The first number (or letter) is the hue family that the colour belongs to. For example, "1" is red, "2" is orange, "3" is yellow, and so on.
  • The second number indicates the exact hue within that family. So "11" would be a very specific shade of red, while "12" would be a slightly different shade.
  • The last number is the level of chroma, or intensity, of the colour. A low number like "3" would be a more muted version of the hue, while a high number like "9" would be a very vibrant, saturated shade.

The Letter "C"

On some Pantone books, you may notice the letter C at the end of each colour chip. What do these mean? The letter "C" stands for "coated." In other words, the colour which is displayed with a 'c" will be shiny. This is relevant in specific applications where a sheen is needed to represent colour accurately.

The Letter "U"

For specific Pantone colour codes, you may see the word "U" at the back. This stands for "uncoated" and is a way of defining the colour as matt or standard. So next time you're looking at a Pantone colour chip, you'll know precisely what those numbers mean!

Different Types of Pantone Colors

When it comes to Pantone, there are several types of colors you have to choose from. Here's an overview of the various types available:

  • CMYK Colors: Also known as process colors, this type of color uses four color combinations (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) that can be used to create an almost infinite range of vibrant hues.
  • Spot Color: This type of color includes printing with 1-6 solid ink colours which can be matched precisely using the Pantone Matching System (PMS).
  • Metallic Tones: Metallic tones provide an interesting visual effect when used on print materials such as flyers and posters. They're created by mixing metallic pigments with layers of transparent base inks.
  • Pastels: A pastel hue can help create a softer look than regular vivid colors do. These shades usually consist of subtle tints and muted tones that have less contrast than other tones do.

Which Type is Best?

The best type of Pantone color for your project will depend on what you intend to achieve. If you need precise and exact results, then spot colors are ideal; if you want something more vibrant or with greater contrast then CMYK would be better suited; while metallic tones work perfectly if you want something really eye-catching and unique. On the other hand, if you're looking for something subtle or calming then pastels will do the trick!

pantone colour swatch chart top view

Author Profile: Yoshe

Yoshe is a Cubic Promote’s content manager and she has worked with promotional products for almost a decade. Yoshe is full of great product ideas, she knows what's new on the market and how to use promotional products to boost your brand visibility. Visit her on LinkedIn.

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