January 6th 2020

Which Pantone book is the right one for you?

Which Pantone book is the right one for you?


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Around the world, Pantone is the authority when it comes to colour management. Founded back in 1962, it created a standard language for accurate colour communication between designers and printers and has now expanded its product range to include tools useful to all industries.

Pantone ensures that everyone from designers and manufacturers to retailers and consumers can be in agreement with the colour chosen. There are many different Pantone products available which help designers and manufacturers to communicate about colour accurately. However, the accurate colour reproduction and colour communication requires the purchase of the right Pantone book, depending on the material or texture of the product you design. In addition, by choosing the right Pantone book, it will enhance your design inspiration as well as helping you achieve a successful colour reproduction either for graphics and printing or for textiles and hard goods.

A common question that our Pantone specialist, Georgina Boulter, often gets asked is, “which Pantone book should I buy?” The quickest answer is that it depends what you need the book for! You need to ask yourself, “What type of product am I designing or making?”. For example catalogues and leaflets, textiles, footwear and accessories or industrial products all need different colour standards.

Another question to ask is “how do I and my supply chain want to work?”, as Pantone products come in many forms some portable others more substantial and some have removable chips or swatches which you may find useful for communicating ideas.

This blog will explore the different ranges and what products are available, including features and benefits.

What are the different Pantone ranges?

The ranges that will be discussed in this blog are as follows:

  1. Pantone Matching System (PMS) range
  2. Fashion, Home & Interior (FHI) range

Let’s start by looking into what the PMS range has to offer.

1. PMS Range – For Graphic Designers & Printers

The Pantone PMS range is ideal for graphic designers and printers requiring a consistent and reliable method for selecting and matching colours for creation of logos, packaging or marketing materials which are printed on materials such as paper or film or are web based.

Colours are bright and printed on optically brightened stock by sheetfed offset method. While the PMS range is often referenced for licensed artwork especially for placement printed garments the colours can be too bright to achieve on the base material with dyes and pigments therefore if you are specifying colours for product the FHI range should be used instead.

The products in the PMS range are produced as easily portable Guides on both coated and uncoated paper and some have corresponding Chip Books with tear out chips ideal for attaching to art work or presentation boards.

1.1 PMS Basic products – Pantone Formula Guides & Color Bridge Guides

Formula Guides coated and uncoated – using these guides designers can choose, compare and communicate colour concepts for logo designs, signage and packaging. Can be accurately reproduced using Pantone Spot Inks, ink formulas are printed under each colour.

Color Bridge Guide (Coated) – graphic and print designers who are process printing can easily visualise Pantone coated Spot colours side by side with their closest, industry-standard CMYK equivalent. CMYK percentages and RGB/ Hex codes are given. 

Color Bridge Guide (Uncoated) – same as the guide above but reproduced on uncoated stock.

The Color Bridge Guides are also available as a set of coated and uncoated which is more economical than buying them separately.

pantone coated or uncoated

Extended Gamut Guide – more accurately match Pantone Spot colours in process colour if your printer has a seven colour digital printer.

Important: In September 2019 Pantone added 294 colours to their PMS range. Here’s why it is important not to miss the new colours.

We do have stock of Guides and Chip books containing the new colours and for a limited time can supply Supplements containing just the new colours if your books are in good condition.

1.2 PMS Speciality products – Pastels & Neon’s & Metallic Guides

Pantone Pastels & Neon’s & Metallics Guides are the perfect solution for designers working on packaging, signage, logos etc.

Pastels & Neon’s Guide – in this guide are additional Pantone Spot Colors which are great for dynamic, bold and eye-catching designs.

Pantone coated or uncoated

Pantone Metallics Guide – this guide provides 655 economic colour options including 54 new shades that are easy to use and help to create luxurious and show stopping designs without resorting to foil stamping.

Pantone Metallic Guides with 54 new shades

If you need a full set of Guides or would like the corresponding Chip Books as well then several cost effective bundles are available – some such as Essentials and Portable Guide Studio with a handy carry case.

1.3 Pantone Plastic Chips

Pantone offer a range of products for accurate and effective colour communication for those working with plastics for signage, packaging and masterbatch for industrial or domestic product.

Plastic Standard Chips – use these individual chips for seamless and accurate colour matching between plastic products, print material, hard goods and textiles. A very limited stock held but can be ordered on your behalf.

Plastics Standard Chips: Tints and Tones Collection – are you looking for the best neutrals in plastics? This collection contains a carefully curated range of cool and warm shades, which provides designers working in plastic and other hard materials with a wide selection of high demand “neutral” colours.

Plastic Chip Color Sets – these sets match to Pantone’s graphics (PMS) colour system meaning you can match plastics to your brand or packaging colours. Each set features a selection of 100 plastic chips from one of the most popular colour families.

Plastic Standard Chips Color Collection – this collection is a full set of the 1,755 Pantone Plus Series spot colours as Plastic Standard Chips. The collection comes as three carousel towers which rotate for ease of finding the colour you like.

Pantone Plastic Standard Chips-Colour Collection

2. Fashion, Home + Interior Range – For apparel, home textiles and interior designers

The FHI range was developed to contain a complete range of neutral, pastel, dark and trend colours ideal for textile products such as apparel, home textiles and carpets. Initially the products were produced from dyed woven cotton as colours produced by this method can be reproduced on multiple substrates and the flat surface makes both instrumental and visual colour matching easier than using optically brightened,  shiny or textured standards.

2.1 FHI standard products – Cotton Swatches, Passport, Planner, Chip Set and Library

These products are ideal for textile designers or those who work within this sector.

Pantone SMART Color Swatches – SMART swatches are individual cotton colour standards for colourists, product developers and designers working in apparel, soft home and textiles. The swatches are double-layered, 100% cotton poplin, loose-format fabric, stored in a UV and dust protecting bag. Designers can use them for mood boards and sharing with clients whereas production and QC teams use then for colour approval of lab dips and production. 

Cotton Passport – the passport is the perfect size and format for designers and students who want access to both inspiration and visualisations anywhere and at any time. It provides an easy way to see and select from the full range of Pantone FHI colours. Cross-reference your inspiration when comp shopping or at client meetings.

Cotton Planner – the planner is very handy for both designers and in-house colourists who need to visualise and specify colours for a range of different design applications.

Cotton Chip Set – larger format cotton chips which are removable aid design inspiration by allowing palette building during design meetings.

Cotton Swatch Library – the ultimate set of TCX colours in 5cm x 5cm loose leaf swatches ideal for a retail office they can be used for mood boards or in colour approval (if kept in pristine condition!)

Pantone Cotton Chip SetPantone Cotton Passport Complete

2.2 FHI Speciality products – Polyester Swatch Set, Nylon Swatch Ring & Metallic Shimmers

These products are ideal for those working in the sports, swim, lingerie, fashion, shoes and industrial design sector.

Polyester Swatch Set – this set includes 203 unique, forecast-driven colours for both designers and colourists who work with Athleisure, Sportswear, Lingerie and Hosiery. It offers an easy-to-use portfolio of achievable colours in all-new, redesigned binder format. The colours are also available as individual SMART swatches for sharing with your suppliers and customers (select Polyester from the swatch type dropdown when ordering).

Pms swatch book

Nylon Bright Set – want all 21 Nylon bright fluorescent colours? They are all available in one handy ring set. These bold and striking neon colours are ideal for apparel use in swimwear, outerwear, activewear etc. The colours are also available as individual SMART swatches for sharing with your suppliers and customers (select Nylon from the swatch type dropdown when ordering).

2.3 New Metallic Shimmers for Textile, Paper, Metallic (TPM) products

Made by a Nitro-cellulous coating method rather than by offset printing these paper products have an opaque appearance which is easier to match with pigments, they add brilliance and a lustrous finish to accessories, home electrical products and technology products. Containing 200 new colours with pearlescent and metallic finishes a complete collection of curated fashion and core colours, meeting market demands. These colours are available in two handy formats or a cost effective combined bundle.

Metallic Shimmers Color Specifier – a binder of handy removable paper chips in the latest metallic colours, ideal for building palettes and mood boards, and of course attaching to your artwork and design drawings.

Metallic Shimmers Color Guide – this portable guide features a range of core metallic shades which are reflective of future trends ready for your design inspiration, highlighting the increasing importance of metallic finish in both fashion and product design.

Metallic Shimmers Color Guide & Specifier Set – contains both the Guide and Specifier in one handy set.

Coated Colors Set – if you need both the TPM and TPG colours you can get both in this bundle.

pms swatch book

2.4 Textile, Paper, Green (TPG) products

Like the Metallic Shimmers the TPG products are paper with the coloured areas formed by applying a Nitro-cellulous coating producing an opaque finish more similar to the woven cotton than the vibrant and shiny coated offset printed PMS books.

Designed to use for colour specification and matching of non-fabric home goods, accessories and footwear they can also be a cost-effective alternative to the FHI Cotton products for apparel startups and freelance designers.

Please note it is not recommended to switch between TPG and TCX within a supply chain especially when using dark and saturated colours as the colour on the paper does not build-up to the same saturation and depth as the dyed cotton. We would, therefore, recommend apparel designers to only use TPG products for inspiration and to purchase the individual TCX swatches to confirm the colours with their clients before specifying to suppliers.

FHI Color Guide: The full range of 2310 TPG colours in two portable guides.

FHI Color Specifier & Guide Set: Two Chip books each with a pocket holding the corresponding Color Guide contain all 2310 TPG colours in both formats enable you to select your colours from the guides and attach the tear-out chips to your artwork or mood boards.

Pantone matching system swatch book

TPG Sheets: Large individual sheets of TPG colour ideal for visualising the colour in life-size or for sharing with your clients.

As you have now discovered the range of Pantone books is abundant with a variety of materials and formats, providing every possible solution for designers and manufacturers in all industries. We hope this blog helped you to determine which Pantone book is right for your needs to maximise the efficiency of your design and manufacturing process.

There’s so much more for you to browse at our online shop. If you have any questions, please contact us via email at pantone@verivide.com or telephone on +44 (0)116 284 7790. 

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