Pantone Colours in Screen Printing

Did you know that there is a standard colour matching system used the world over?

You may have heard the word Pantone in passing but just how important is the Pantone Match System in printing?

If you are ordering screen printed garments from us, we will ask you for the Pantone colour you would like the print to be and this may seem like jargon to you but hopefully the below will help you understand the importance of Pantone Colours and help ease the process.

Pantone began in New Jersey in the 1950s as the commercial printing company of brothers Mervin and Jesse Levine. In 1956 they hired 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 coloured inks.

A brief history of Pantone colours

Within 6 years, Herbert was in charge of the Ink and Printing division which was running at a profit and decided to rename the company, Pantone.

The company began producing Pantone Guides, which were small colour swatches showing a guide for companies to colour match specific colours when entering into production. This was the start of the system that is used the world over now with PMS colour guides being produced by Pantone and becoming the world standard of colours

Why are Pantone colours important to brands?

Using these PMS guides, they tell you how to mix to produce a certain colour, which would be the same colour worldwide regardless of which screen printer you are using. This is very important for most brands. A brand’s colour is critical to its identity – creating associations and expectations, triggering mental images and memories. Studies show that the right colour can increase brand recognition by up to 87%. For example a well-known brand such as McDonald’s and their yellow arch which is instantly recognisable to everyone, thanks in large part to Pantone. The yellow is Pantone 123 which is used in all of McDonald’s printing. In addition to that, the McDonalds red is Pantone 485. These colours play such an important role in brand recognition.

McDonalds used very well known Pantone colours in their branding that is recognised world over

What do we use at 1WorldPrint?

When you come to 1WorldPrint for screen printing, if we have not already been informed of your Pantone before the visual approval stage, we will ask if you have a Pantone colour you would like the print to be. For screen printing, we always use the Solid Coated Pantone book (this means your colour should end in C). This is something you may have to hand from your brand guidelines.

A coated Pantone C book

If you do not have this to hand, there are ways to find out the best Pantone colour match for your brand.

Using the Pantone Colour Finder

Pantone offers a colour finder on their website, which allows you to look and match it or it has an option to convert a HEX or CMYK code in a coated Pantone colour. This is a great tool, but please note the colours will look different on a backlit screen. 

Finding out the closest Pantone from Illustrator

You can convert your design from standard colours to the closest Pantone match in Illustrator.

This is something we can do for you if you do not have a Pantone colour, we will then put this on the visual to show you which Pantone is closest to your logo.

If you prefer to do this yourself in illustrator, this is also possible:

  1. Open the artwork in Illustrator.

  2. Ensure the design is fully vectored by hovering the cursor over the edges of the design. If a coloured line surrounds the design element, then you will know it is vectored.

  3. Using the Direct Selection Tool, select the full image

  4. Go to the top toolbar and click ‘Edit’, ‘Edit Colours’ and then ‘Recolour Artwork’.

  5. Click the small box under where it says “none” and select ‘Colour Books’, then ‘PANTONE+ Solid Coated’.

  6. The swatches panel will now display all the Pantone’s found within the image.

  7. You can then pass these onto us to use for screen printing.

The Pantone match system really is fantastic and the ability to match brand colours using inks is a wonderful tool.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or to ask for a quote. Screen printing is great for bulk orders of t-shirts, sweaters and hoodies as with screen printing the more units your order the cheaper they become per unit.

Please get in touch with one of our team if you have any questions or require any more information, and we will be happy to help. You can get a quote by clicking the Get A Quote button at the bottom. You can also email at: or call us on: 0208 064 1315.

Helen Anderton

Content Writer @1WorldPrint