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Should I Print in CMYK or Pantone (PMS)?

Quality prints are important, especially if you just payed for a new logo design or custom graphics. Printing in colour can be exhausting when you are presented with a number of options that you do not understand. We want to give you an introduction to CMYK and PMS to help you decide which is best for your print project.


CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. As the primary colours of print, the 4 colours overlay each other in a series of dots to build colours and images. For example, let’s look at Imprint’s signature orange. It is 4% cyan, 80% magenta, 98% yellow, and 0% black. Do you see a difference with the Pantone? Is it brighter?



Pantone or PMS (Pantone Matching System) often comes off as brighter than CMYK. Unlike the CYMK, the 18 basic colours in this palette are individually mixed, making them more precise and more vibrant. The ink mixing formula of each colour is developed by Pantone and special effects can be added to the colours to make them fluorescent, pastel, or even metallic.


Making a Choice

While PMS may sound like the go-to, that is not always the case. Pantone should only be used for large areas of consistent, saturated colour. In addition, it is helpful for precise logo or branding colour matching due to the inconsistency limitation of CMYK.  For full colour photographs and other multi-colour printing projects, CMYK is the best choice since Pantone may need too many colours.

It is also beneficial at times to use both CMYK and PMS. For example, if you are adding your logo to a full colour illustration. The logo can be printed with PMS and the illustration with CMYK.

Furthermore, if necessary, many CMYK to Pantone colour converters exist online to help you get to the closest shade. Some of our favourites include CMYK to Pantone converter and Pantone to CMYK, RAL, and more.

Level 7 (XP: 2750)
4 years ago
I had no idea this was even a thing. I definitely learned something new today. Thanks