About Spot Colors

Mar 19, 2013


As per the image to the right, “color” in these studies often refers to full color printing or process color printing. However, even using spot color printing can have the same beneficial effects on direct mail response.

In process color printing, we overprint four transparent inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) in various combinations to produce the gamut of reproducible colors. spot inks, in contrast, are opaque, and we do not combine them. We specify a desired color using a unique number.

So, in process color printing, if you want green, we overprint cyan and yellow inks. In spot color printing, if you want green, you specify, for example, Pantone 370, which refers to a specific, standardized shade of green.

Many logos and corporate colors are spot colors because it’s easier to maintain color consistency across a variety of printed documents and print providers by using a specific spot color. Additionally, the CMYK color gamut is a fairly small one, and some shades are impossible to reproduce using process colors. Spot colors can fill this gap.

Specifying spot inks can be as simple as picking a desired shade and noting its “PMS” (Pantone Matching System) number. There are other color swatching systems, but Pantone’s is the most common. Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress define spot color swatches the same way that any color swatch is defined. Both of these programs have built-in spot color libraries.

In InDesign, for example, to specify a spot color, select New Color Swatch from the Swatches palette menu. In the New Color Swatch dialogue box, change Color Type from Process to Spot. From the Color Mode pop-up menu, select the spot color library you wish to use. We recommend using either Pantone Solid Coated or Uncoated. Coated or uncoated refers to whether we will print the job on coated or uncoated paper. Select Pantone Solid Coated to bring up all of the available spot colors. Highlight the one you want, and click the Add button. The spot color appears in your Swatches palette. It’s important that you not edit a spot color swatch, as this will defeat the whole purpose of specifying spot colors by number!

Your monitor might not display the spot color exactly the way we will print it. For best results, consult a printed PMS swatchbook.

Spot color can be a simple yet effective way to liven up a document and boost the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns.

More Insights to Enjoy:

+ The Corporate Brochure Modern Makeover

+ Boost Effectiveness and Save Money with Print

+ Planning Your Next Print Project

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