Spot Colors

In offset printing, a spot color is any color generated by an ink (pure or mixed) that is printed using a single run. The process of offset printing in full color consist of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). When the need to match a particular color (a background or specific color in a logo or company color) on a printed piece, the use of a spot color is utilized. The main reason that the spot color is utilized is to maintain the color fidelity or accuracy of the color throughout the print run. The printer needs to have a special file created for the spot color in addition to the CMYK colors. This spot color will eventually be a plate that utilizes an extra printing unit on the press to print the color to the printed sheet.

There are several systems developed and in place for matching specific spot colors in the industry. In North America, the most common have been designed by Pantone Inc. The matching system developed by Pantone is called “Pantone Matching System” (PMS) and this system has approximately 1,000 different pre-defined colors that can be mixed with an array of base inks that are called “Pantone Colors” – these Pantone colors are the base inks that are sold by the company. A printer normally refers to the PMS number of the ink in the specification. Once the specification is established, the client and the printer refer to the color by its PMS number.

The PMS color mixed to achieve a color on coated paper will print with a different hue and density on offset stock, non-white or off white stocks. This is the reason that the company that establishes these matching standards offer color swatch books in both offset and coated stocks. Printoutlet utilizes a computerized system to achieve the exact color that is required, thus reducing errors.