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Pantone

From Academic Kids

Pantone Inc., a multi-billion-dollar corporation headquartered in Carlstadt, New Jersey, is known for its color matching systems, used in the printing business.

Pantone was founded in 1962 by Lawrence Herbert, now the current CEO, Chairman and President of the company. At first, Pantone was a small business which manufactured color cards for cosmetics companies. Herbert soon acquired Pantone, and developed the first color matching system in 1963.

Primary among these products are the Pantone Guides, which consist of a large number of small (approx. 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 flipbook. For instance, a particular "page" might contain a number of yellows varying in luminance from light to dark. Annual editions of the Pantone Guides are released, since the inks in each edition eventually fade over time.

In theory, the idea of the Pantone system is to pick desired colors from the guides, and then use their numbers to specify how to print the output. One might ask the print shop to "print this area using pantone 655". The print shop will have instructions on how to produce color 655 on their equipment, and the output will look as expected. Pantone guides are recommended to be replaced yearly. Pantone guides from differing years and editions often have colors that deviate from each other. One solution would be to go digital, with the use of the Pantone library built into spectrophotometers. This way users could measure the color value and compare to the Pantone value directly without having to measure the printed Pantone color guide.

In reality there are numerous subtle differences in the abilities of various devices to output a full range of colors. Printed materials use the four-color CMYK system, while on-screen displays on computers use the RGB system, and matching between the two can be notoriously difficult. While the Pantone system works reasonably well amongst various machines of the same type, moving from computer screen to printed output — how almost all publishing is done — is seen by some to be still largely hit-and-miss.

Pantone colors, described by their number, have found their way into legislation, especially to describe the colors of flags. The Scottish Parliament recently debated a measure to define the Scottish flag (saltire) as Pantone 300. As well, countries such as Canada and South Korea indicate specific Pantone colours to use when producing flags. It is open to speculation whether legislators realize that Pantone may choose to reformulate the color, or that color science offers other more permanent ways to define a color.

Pantone's list of color numbers and values is the intellectual property of Pantone and free use of the list is not allowed. This is why Pantone colors cannot be supported in Free Software such as the GIMP, and are not often found in low-cost software.

External links

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