Pantone LLC is a limited liability company headquartered in Carlstadt, New Jersey.[1] The company is best known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS), a proprietary color space used in a variety of industries, notably graphic design, fashion design, product design, printing and manufacturing and supporting the management of color from design to production, in physical and digital formats, among coated and uncoated materials, cotton, polyester, nylon and plastics.

Pantone LLC
FounderLawrence Herbert
HeadquartersCarlstadt, New Jersey
OwnerDanaher Corporation

X-Rite, a supplier of color measurement instruments and software, purchased Pantone for US$180 million in October 2007,[2] and was itself acquired by Danaher Corporation in 2012.[3]


Pantone began in New Jersey in the 1950s as the commercial printing company of brothers Mervin and Jesse Levine, M & J Levine Advertising.[4][5] In 1956, its founders, both advertising executives, hired recent Hofstra University graduate Lawrence Herbert as a part-time employee. Herbert used his chemistry knowledge to systematize and simplify the company's stock of pigments and production of colored inks; by 1962, Herbert was running the ink and printing division at a profit, while the commercial-display division was US$50,000 in debt; he subsequently purchased the company's technological assets from the Levine Brothers for US$50,000 (equivalent to $420,000 in 2019) and renamed them "Pantone".[6]

The company's primary products include the Pantone Guides, which consist of a large number of small (approximately 6×2 inches or 15×5 cm) thin cardboard sheets, printed on one side with a series of related color swatches and then bound into a small "fan deck". For instance, a particular "page" might contain a number of yellows of varying tints.

The idea behind the PMS is to allow designers to "color match" specific colors when a design enters production stage, regardless of the equipment used to produce the color. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers and reproduction and printing houses. Pantone recommends that PMS Color Guides be purchased annually, as their inks become yellowish over time.[7] Color variance also occurs within editions based on the paper stock used (coated, matte or uncoated), while interedition color variance occurs when there are changes to the specific paper stock used.[8]

Pantone Color Matching System

Spectra of Pantone Colors
from Yellow to Orange
from Orange to Red

The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.

One such use is standardizing colors in the CMYK process. The CMYK process is a method of printing color by using four inks—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. A majority of the world's printed material is produced using the CMYK process, and there is a special subset of Pantone colors that can be reproduced using CMYK.[9] Those that are possible to simulate through the CMYK process are labeled as such within the company's guides.

However, most of the Pantone system's 1,114 spot colors cannot be simulated with CMYK but with 13 base pigments (14 including black) mixed in specified amounts.[10]

The Pantone system also allows for many special colors to be produced, such as metallics and fluorescents. While most of the Pantone system colors are beyond the printed CMYK gamut, it was only in 2001 that Pantone began providing translations of their existing system with screen-based colors. Screen-based colors use the RGB color model—red, green, blue—system to create various colors.[11] The (discontinued)[12] Goe system has RGB and LAB values with each color.

Pantone colors are described by their allocated number (typically referred to as, for example, "PMS 130"). PMS colors are almost always used in branding and have even found their way into government legislation and military standards (to describe the colors of flags and seals).[13] In January 2003, the Scottish Parliament debated a petition (reference PE512) to refer to the blue in the Scottish flag as "Pantone 300". Countries such as Canada and South Korea and organizations such as the FIA have also chosen to refer to specific Pantone colors to use when producing flags. US states including Texas have set legislated PMS colors of their flags.[14]

Pantone Goe System

On September 5, 2007, Pantone introduced the Goe System.[15] Goe consisted of over 2,000 new colors in a new matching and numbering system. In addition to the standard swatch books (now called the GoeGuide), the new system also included adhesive-backed GoeSticks, interactive software, tools, and an online community where users were able to share color swatches and information.

The Goe system was streamlined to use fewer base colors (ten, plus clear coating for reflections) and accommodate many technical challenges in reproducing colors on a press.[10]

The Pantone Goe system was discontinued in November 2013.[12]

Other products

A logo commissioned by the Government of Singapore to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation's independence. The usage instructions for the logo described it as being in Pantone Red 032 and White.[16]

In mid-2006 Pantone, partnering with Vermont-based Fine Paints of Europe, introduced a new line of interior and exterior paints. The color palette uses Pantone's color research and trending and has more than 3,000 colors.

In November 2015, Pantone partnered with Redland London to create a collection of bags inspired from Pantone's authority on color.

Pantone also produced Hexachrome, a patented six-color printing system.[17][18] In addition to custom CMYK inks, Hexachrome added orange and green inks to expand the color gamut, for better color reproduction. It was therefore also known as a CMYKOG process. Hexachrome was discontinued by Pantone in 2008 when Adobe Systems stopped supporting their HexWare plugin software.

Pantone Color Manager allows for users of the Adobe Creative Suite as well as other software to import the most up to date information inclusive of L*a*b* numbers as well as CMYK and RGB representations of all the various palettes. L*a*b* numbers allow for the most accurate representation of color in a device-independent manner.

Color of the Year

Since 2000,[19] the Pantone Color Institute has declared a particular color "Color of the Year". Twice a year the company hosts, in a European capital, a secret meeting of representatives from various nations' color standards groups. After two days of presentations and debate, they choose a color for the following year; for example, the color for summer 2013 was chosen in London in the spring of 2012.[20] The color purportedly connects with the zeitgeist;[21] for example, the press release declaring Honeysuckle the color of 2011 said "In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues."[22] The results of the meeting are published in Pantone View, which fashion designers, florists, and many other consumer-oriented companies purchase to help guide their designs and planning for future products.[20] Pantone added two colors for 2021.

Pantone 15-4020

Fuchsia Rose
Pantone 17-2031

True Red
Pantone 19-1664

Aqua Sky
Pantone 14-4811

Pantone 17-1456

Blue Turquoise
Pantone 15-5217

Sand Dollar
Pantone 13-1106

Chili Pepper
Pantone 19-1557

Blue Iris
Pantone 18-3943

Pantone 14-0848

Pantone 15-5519

Pantone 18-2120

Tangerine Tango
Pantone 17-1463[23]

Pantone 17-5641

Radiant Orchid
Pantone 18-3224[24]

Pantone 18-1438[25]

Rose Quartz
Pantone 13-1520[26]

Pantone 15-3913[26]

Pantone 15-0343[27]

Ultra Violet
Pantone 18-3838[28]

Living Coral
Pantone 16-1546[29]

Classic Blue
Pantone 19-4052[30]

Ultimate Gray
Pantone 17-5104[31]

Pantone 13-0647[31]

In 2012, the color of the year, Tangerine Tango, was used to create a makeup line, in partnership with Sephora.[32] The product line, named Sephora + Pantone Universe collection, features Tangerine Tango–embellished false lashes, nail lacquers, cream, glitters, and high-pigment lip glosses.[33]

The person behind Pantone's Color of the Year, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman, explained in an interview how 2014's Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid, was chosen:

I look for ascending color trends, colors that are being used in broader ways and broader context than before... In this case, Radiant Orchid descends from the purple family, which is kind of a magical color that denotes creativity and innovation. Purple is just that kind of a complex, interesting, attracting kind of color... [The] back-story to purple is that it inspires confidence in your creativity, and we're living in a world where that kind of creative innovation is greatly admired. In the world of color, purple is an attention-getter, and it has a meaning. It speaks to people, and we felt that it was time for the purple family to be celebrated. That's why we chose the particular shade called Radiant Orchid.

Pantone has said that color "has always been an integral part of how a culture expresses the attitudes and emotions of the times."[35]

Intellectual property

Pantone asserts that their lists of color numbers and pigment values are the intellectual property of Pantone and free use of the list is not allowed.[36] This is frequently held as a reason Pantone colors cannot be supported in open-source software and are not often found in low-cost proprietary software.[37] Pantone has been accused of "being intentionally unclear" about its exact legal claims, but it is acknowledged that "the simplest claim would be trademark misappropriation or dilution towards someone who produced a color palette marketed as compatible with Pantone's".[37] Pantone palettes supplied by printer manufacturers can be obtained freely, and usually do not come with usage restrictions beyond a sales ban on hard copies of the palette.

See also


  1. Horyn, Cathy. "Pantone's Color of the Year Is...", The New York Times, December 20, 2007. Accessed September 8, 2008. "Nonetheless, Pantone's choice of blue iris, or No. 18-3943, got some news media attention last week, which seemed to be partly the objective of the company, which is based in Carlstadt, NJ."
  2. "Pantone US$180m Acquisition Completion For X-Rite: News from X-Rite", Printing talk, archived from the original on 2008-12-02.
  3. "Danaher Corporation Successfully Completes Tender Offer for Shares of X-Rite, Incorporated". Reuters. 15 May 2012. Archived from the original on 18 May 2012.
  4. Budds, Diana (2015-09-18). "How Pantone Became The Definitive Language Of Color". Fast Company. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  5. "History of Pantone Inc. – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  6. "Pantone Inc. History", Company histories, Funding universe.
  7. Senior Staff (interview), Ink Systems, Inc, October 27, 2006.
  8. "Pantone Press Release, 6 May 2004". Archived from the original on 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2007-02-23. Colors in the new formula guide and chips books have changed due to a shift to coated paper that is brighter and whiter.
  9. "CMYK, RGB & Pantone for Print Marketing". Ballantine. 2018-08-29. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  10. Pantone 2.0: After 45 Years, the Sequel to PMS, Creative Pro.
  11. Pantone announces RGB conversions for Pantone system (press release), Providing Designers with simple and accurate methods for recreating Pantone Matching System colors in Web designs.
  12. "Graphics – Pantone Goe System". Pantone. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  13. Directive (PDF), USCG.
  14. "3100. State Flag", Statute, TX, US, archived from the original on 2007-10-13, (b) The red and blue of the state flag are (1) the same colors used in the United States flag; and (2) defined as numbers 193 (red) and 281 (dark blue) of the Pantone Matching System.
  15. Pantone Unveils Goe System (press release), retrieved September 5, 2007, Over 2,000 new Pantone colors to inspire, explore and express the color of ideas.
  16. Celebrating the Little Red Dot, SG50 Programme Office, 2015, archived from the original on 18 March 2015.
  17. Patent, US: PTO, 5734800.
  18. About us (press release), Pantone.
  19. PANTONE. "Trend Forecasting - Celebrate Color: Color by Decade Infographic from". PANTONE. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  20. Vanderbilt, Tom (27 April 2012), Sneaking Into Pantone HQ, Slate, retrieved 13 January 2019
  21. Ibrahim, Banu (2019-12-05). "Pantone's Color of the Year is a calming start to 2020". CNN Underscored. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  22. "Pantone Reveals Color of the Year for 2011: Pantone 18-2120 Honeysuckle". Pantone.
  23. "2012 Pantone Color of the Year". Pantone.
  24. "Radiant Orchid – Pantone Color of the Year 2014". Pantone.
  25. "Marsala – Pantone Color of the Year 2015". Pantone.
  26. "Pantone Color of the Year 2016 Color Standards". Pantone.
  27. "Pantone Color of the Year 2017 Color Standards". Pantone.
  28. "Pantone Color of the Year 2018 Tools for Designers". Pantone.
  29. "Pantone Color of the Year 2019 Tools for Designers". Pantone.
  30. "Pantone Color of the Year 2020 Tools for Designers". Pantone.
  31. "Announcing the Pantone Color of the Year 2021". Pantone.
  32. Hutchings, Emma (2012-03-23). "Pantone Teams Up With Sephora to Create A Color-Saturated Makeup Line". PSFK. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  33. Sragovic, Ana (2012-03-21). "Orange Crush: Sephora and Pantone Team Up for an NYC Pop-Up Shop". Vogue. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  34. Eiseman, Leatrice. "Lee Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute". Spotlight. Signazon. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  35. "Celebrate Color". Panton. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  36. "Clause 4", Terms of Use, Pantone, 30 July 2009, published materials of Pantone, are protected by copyright laws and include, for example, graphic presentations, color references, Pantone Colors, Pantone Names, numbers, formulas, and software.
  37. "Pantone and free software". | The source for Linux information. Archived from the original on 2010-11-20. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
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