PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. The Pantone matching system was created to universalize and standardize the selection of ink colors and is broadly used through out the world. It gives the color a number that is easily ordered by the printer and gives the client a way to select colors with relative assurance of the outcome from one printer to another. Pantone prints various different guides for matching colors. These guides are used through out most print shops creating a common language to speak about colors.
Pantone guides are available on coated, uncoated and matte stocks. The reason they are made for different types of paper is because each paper has different reflective and absorption characteristics. The same PMS color on a coated stock can have a very different look when printed on an uncoated stock. When looking at PMS swatch books you always want to be looking at the correct book for the type of stock you will be printing on.
Pantone makes a very useful swatch book called the solid to process book. This is a “must have” tool for anyone who designs project with PMS colors and then wants to print them as 4CP. Not all Pantone colors will convert to CMYK well. Some colors will have a drastic color shift – others the difference will be barely noticeable. This swatch book will show you the PMS color and how it will print in 4CP. It will help you to determine if that 5th color is really necessary for a project. The following image on the left shows the PMS Color. The right side of the strip shows the CMYK match to the color. You can see that in PMS 1767 the CMYK is not as rich of a color – it becomes muted. For PMS 1817 the CMYK equivalent becomes much heavier and darker loosing the brightness of the color.