What is a Pantone reference?


If you are new to printed packaging you may not have heard the term ‘pantone reference’ before.

The Pantone system is a standardised colour matching system for identifying colours. By standardising the colours, different manufacturers in different locations can all reference a Pantone numbered colour to ensure your products match in colour, as well as possible, without ever being physically next to each other.

There are two types of Pantone reference.  Uncoated (U) and Coated (C).  One of these letters will appear after the number which denotes the colour to indicate what substrate the ink is suitable for (e.g. 032C or 032U).   

The uncoated versions are for use on uncoated paper (e.g. standard white and brown kraft or white or brown test papers) and are commonly used for standard corrugated products.  Their formula accounts for the way in which the ink will sink into the paper.  A coated formula is for use on coated materials (e.g. clay coated papers or folding box board) and will appear brighter and more dense in colour as the ink sits on the substrate rather than soaking into it.  The Coated versions are commonly used for higher quality print in High Quality Post Print (flexographic printing) and litho printing.

Did you know?

Each year Pantone announce a colour of the year.  This year, PANTONE 18-3838 ULTRA VIOLET  is having its moment.  The colour of the year reflects current trends and can be a good source of inspiration if you’re looking for some ideas for your brand.

Some pitfalls to avoid when colour matching;

  • Do not match to something you have printed off your computer.  Your printer uses CYMK colours to recreate the colours in your document and the colour will look different from printer to printer.
  • Do not match to a colour on your computer screen.  Everyone’s screen settings are different and will affect how the colours appear.
  • Whilst the Pantone system is designed to standardise colours across substrates, sometimes the different physical properties of a materials cannot be overcome.  E.g when comparing a clay coated paper with varnish printed in red 032C, it will always appear more vivid and colour saturated than the same red in its uncoated version printed on brown test paper. 
  • Try and perform colour matches in soft, natural light.  Bright sunlight or bright artificial light can affect how you see the colours.

To ensure you understand how your chosen Pantone reference will appear on your chosen substrate, as part of our sign off process for new products, we supply a colour swatch for your approval.  We never go to print without colour approval!  We understand how much time and effort our customers put into their branding and want to ensure the packaging we produce for you is true reflection of your brand. 

If you’d like a chat about colour choice, please get in touch (sales@dairi-pak.co.uk and one of our design team would be pleased to assist.

How can we help you? Get in touch about your packaging requirements

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