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Full Color Printing Design File Preparation Checklist

Specifying Pantone Colors For Commercial Printing Is Very Important

When preparing your digital files for commercial printing, it is important to make sure you choose the specific pantone color(s) you plan on using for your printing project. The section below goes over how to select pantone (PMS) colors and also goes over potential issue that may arise when printing in 2 and 4 colors. This article also explains how plate registration can have an impact upon your job when using 4 color files for 1 or 2 color printing.

How Using Pantone colors Will Ensure Better Printing Quality & Bring The Cost Down

Take a look at the door hanger example to the right. Notice that the only 2 colors this door hanger contains is black and red. This specific job was setup properly so the files we received contained color information to print using black ink, and a second color, specifically Pantone (PMS) Red #485.
Since the client picked a specific pantone red and black in the digital files that were sent to us, we were able to print this door hanger using only those 2 colors, which kept cost down and provide extremely sharp printing. However, if the supplied digital files did not specify the pantone red and black, then their graphic design program would select approximated CYMK values to reproduce what looks like the same colors, but are really made up of 4 colors. This not only increases the cost, since more colors of ink are needed to print in 4 colors (full color), but the job also requires more careful attention during production to ensure perfect registration.
For those of you who are curious, keeping perfect registration is the process of aligning all the plates required for your printed job. Each plate needed for printing has 1 color, so if you print in 2 colors, black and Pantone Red 485 for example, then we only need to keep 2 color plates aligned while your job is on the printing press. Concordantly, if you are printing in 4 colors then all 4 plates must be kept in perfect registration while your job is printing. So if one or more plates are not exactly aligned during the printing process, then text and graphics can look blurry and is usually the most common cause of low quality printing.
Basically what you are doing by specifying your colors, is ensuring the printing process is easier and more accurate. Doing so will give you better printing results and also cost less because there is less maintenance, and a fewer number of color plates and ink are needed to print your job.

Using Pantone Colors Will Also provide Consistent Color Reproduction.

One of the biggest advantages in using specific pantone colors in your digital files is the color reproduction will be identical every time you print. The Pantone Matching system was created by Lawrence Herbet in 1963 in order to solve the problems associated with producing accurate and consistent colors by creating standardized colors of ink through detailed measurements and ink mixing. This is how a company such as coca cola can produce the exact red in their logo for example, no matter which printing company they use. Our pantone color specialists literally measure and mix the exact amount of ink required to create the any pantone color your choose, based on this standardized color system. For more information on the Pantone Matching System, please visit

Selecting Specific Pantone Colors In your Artwork to achieve better results in commercial printing.

The Pantone Color Selector on the right is a tool in photoshop and can also be found in professional graphic design programs. This color selection tool is important because it allows you to choose specific colors when printing text and graphics.

Take a look at the text below. While each line of text looks identical, the printing process is entirely different. The top line of text can be printed using only one color, while the second line of text can only be printed using a combination of 4 colors.

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