What’s a PMS Color and Is That Why You Seem So Cranky?

A Mr. Killer Bee from Lewes, Delaware writes and asks:

Q. What in heaven’s name is a PMS color and why do you keep mentioning that, it’s kind of embarrassing?!

A. Mr. Bee, first of all, lighten up a bit, you’re among friends here! Let’s start with the basics: PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, an internationally accepted graphic standards system for determining accurate ink colors, founded in the 1960s. Pantone produces color guides, like those paint swatch books you get at Home Depot, that printers use to make sure the colors they are printing look exactly like the standard colors in the PMS book.

Let’s say your company has a logo and the PMS color is 2597 purple. You want to print your business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, signage, and flyers all with that purple ink. If you just tell a printer you want purple ink, there are literally dozens of purples we could choose from. And you don’t want your business cards to look violet-ty, while your letterhead looks eggplant-ty, do you? Of course not! You want all of the pieces of your brand identity to match each other.

A good printer will make sure that the colors that are specified in the files provided look exactly as they should, with help from our PMS color guide books. Need help selecting a color because there are thousands of choices? No problem! Your professional printer should be able to help you narrow down your choices by asking a series of questions.

When our customers ask for help in choosing a color, we ask what the use will be (you many not necessarily want a bright and cheerful color if you happen to be in a somber industry), what the color will be printed on (different media can cause colors to appear altered), how difficult the color will be to print (some colors are trickier to match than others, which may lead to a cost difference), and when the job is needed (some colors take longer to dry than others, especially blue!), to name just a few.

Color has been shown to improve reader response and comprehension, so adding color to your printed piece is usually a great idea. And making sure your color is perfectly matched every time is why you pick a premier printer like Coastal Printing.

And that’s why we use the Pantone Matching System, so we are all on the same page (pun intended!).