CMYK vs. PMS – Custom offset and Digital printing

One of the most frequently asked questions in the universe of printing is whether the colors of your print project are CMYK or Pantone Matching System. Designers are well aware of these terms, but the business owners who want to get their logo printed or other branding collateral are naive and can end up being confused.

The following article has been written in order to guide the business holders about CMYK and PMS. 

PMS (Pantone Matching System)

PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. It is a proprietary color space used in various industries. Majorly in printing but also used in the manufacturing of colored paint, fabric, and plastics. Different manufacturers in different domains by standardizing different shades can employ the PMS to ensure the colors match without direct mixing of these colors. 

For instance, in order to print green color, we use the Pantone ink for Pantone 362 without necessarily breaking it down. If you want your logo in this color along with different shades of this green, only one plate would be enough for the logo.

Moreover, the color orange is an example of what happens when you convert a PMS to CMYK. Vista print or other web printers convert your PMS to CMYK. 

At the printer, we use PMS colors on a regular basis. These colors offer a tonal range that CMYK does not.  We use swatch books to help us find the PMS value for any type of CMYK work you have done in the past. 


CMYK is the abbreviation of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These are known as primary colors for printing. We all know that Yellow and blue make green and Yello and red make orange. On the other hand, the printing industry claims that the varying quantities of CMYK can create an endless array of colors to print. 

There can be a lot of variation in color using CMYK that Pantone set out to create a system that allowed for consistent color. This is how a designer can design a logo that will print consistently from time to time and printer to printer. 

PMS colors can streamline the printing process and cost less. Talking about CMYK, these colors always require four plates to be made for printing, whereas a meticulously created one or two color logo using PMS colors needs two plates to print. 



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