I'm experiencing a very weird problem in Illustrator with a Pantone color. I have a document open with a logo in it that is Pantone 280 C, blue. I copy the logo into a new Illustrator document and it looks purple. But they're both Pantone 280 C. I ran a bunch of tests, and here's what I know:

  1. Both colors are Pantone 280 C. But the CMYK builds are different. Very odd.
  2. If I draw a shape in each of the documents and fill it with Pantone 280 C, one is blue and the other is purple.
  3. The Pantone swatches themselves look different.
  4. Both documents are in CMYK.

Why are the colors different?

  • 2
    I could be related to color profiles perhaps. Are the color profiles the same for both documents?
    – user7179
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 3:24
  • Yes. The only difference I can see between the two documents is this: In the color palette, where it shows the pantone color, under 100% there are two icons. One for Spot Color, the other for CMYK Color. Clicking either one will convert the colors to spot or CMYK. In the document where the logo looks purple, instead of an icon for CMYK, there is one for Lab. I don't know if that helps at all.
    – ethayne
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 6:07
  • Oh, thank God! I thought I was going crazy! I was having the same problem. But I didn't realise I was copying a logo from a CS5 document and pasting into CS6.
    – Laura
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 14:17
  • didnt they change panatone codes?
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 17:05

4 Answers 4


Illustrator (or Pantone actually) changed the way Pantone colors are build in CS6. You don't mention what version you are using, but based on what you do describe, I'd guess you are using CS6.

Prior to CS6 Pantone colors were built on their CMYK formulas. Starting with CS6, Pantone colors are built based upon their LAB formulas. The result is much less vibrant colors. However, CS6 colors will more closely match what comes off press. This was the apparent goal of Pantone. (Although I think it's to just sell more color books as well.)

Pantone+ 280 Solid Coated in Illustrator CS6 Will look slightly purple until you enable Overprint Preview in the View menu. In fact, most Pantone colors will appear slightly off until you choose Overprint Preview.


Mostly because of Document Color Profile. You should check out View > Proof Setup menu. Also look at Overprint Preview and Proof Colors in View. Just in case.


I ran into the same problem, but I found a workaround:

Resave the CS5 file as a CS6 and open it again, the colour will still look as it did in CS5.


The only work-around solution I have found, is instead of pasting from CS5 doc to CS6, do everything in the CS5 doc and save there.

  • Hi there. I had to chop your answer, we follow a strict Q&A format (as opposed to forum style).
    – Yisela
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 2:20

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