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Pantone Swatchbooks

pantone swatchbooks

Supporting the Pantone Matching System is a range of swatchbooks. Understanding the different versions and their intended uses ensure you will use the right tool for the job. GSM takes a look:

pantone swatchbooks

  1. Formula Guide: Two x books (C & U):
    Formula Guide swatchbooks show the base range of 2,400 PMS colours, along with the corresponding ink formula. Printers use these formulas to mix Pantone colours.
  2. Bridge Guide: Two x books (C & U):
    The Bridge Guide swatchbooks show the same base range of colours as the Formula Guide—but instead of showing the ink formula, the Bridge Guides show each Pantone along with its nearest CMYK equivalent—plus provide the corresponding colour breakdowns (CMYK & RGB), and the Hexcode. The Bridge Guide swatchbooks are great tools for Graphic Designers doing colour specifying. If you are only going to own one set of swatchbooks—this is the one to have.
  3. Metallics Guide: One book—Coated only:
    The Metallic Guide contains 600+ additional colours not featured in the Formula/Bridge guides. These all use a metallic base such as gold or silver.
  4. Pastels & Neons Guide: One book (C & U):
    The Pastels & Neons Guide (combining Coated and Uncoated within the same book) shows 150+ pastels and 50+ neons. Note, the Formula/Bridge guides do not feature these.
  5. CMYK Colour Guide: Two x books (C & U):
    See ‘Colour Gamut’ side story over page.

Coated (C) & Uncoated (U) Swatchbooks

Most of the above swatch guides come in Coated and Uncoated versions—but what does this mean?

The difference is the paper on which the swatchbook has been printed. The colours themselves are the same in both books.

Coated swatchbooks are on gloss card (Coated stock). Uncoated swatchbooks are on an Uncoated card with a more natural finish. This change in stock affects the colour’s appearance, as ink on uncoated paper appears duller and less vibrant. Hence, the two versions of each guide allow you to see this difference.

The exception is the Metallics Guide, which has no Uncoated version as these are generally printed on Coated stocks only.

PMS codes end with either a C or U. These denote the colour as specified from the Coated or Uncoated guide (but the colour breakdown is the same regardless).

This article was originally published in GSM21. To read this and other great articles purchase this issue here.