I have a question for you guys... :)

I have Pantone Colors in my photoshop files. However, I am also using Indesign to do final composing and exporting of the design.

I was wondering what is the best way to export file from Indesign to ensure Pantone colors in Pantone is embedded. Any setting I need to check??

Thank you


  • 2
    Is your Photoshop file set up with Spot Color Channels or did you just randomly pick Pantone colors while working on layers?
    – Scott
    Mar 27, 2014 at 15:22
  • I randomly pick Pantone. I guess that is the wrong way! Mar 28, 2014 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


If your PSD contains any vector information, don't place it in the InDesign layout. Save as a PDF instead, and place the PDF. The reason for this is that a placed PSD is always a raster image in InDesign, because Id uses the raster layer that Photoshop saves within the PSD. A PDF retains all the vector information and makes it available to InDesign. A quick test will demonstrate the difference. I discussed this point here a while back.

Note that a Smart Object, even if the image it contains is a vector, always exports as a raster image, even to PDF, so create text and vectors as actual text or shape layers.

There are some peculiarities that you must be aware of:

  • Spot colors must be Spot Channels (New Spot Channel from the Channels Panel flyout menu). Simply assigning a PMS color to an object in a regular Photoshop layer results in an RGB representation of the color; it won't show up as a spot color in any other application.

  • Spot color channel data in a Photoshop PDF will not show up in InDesign unless you turn on 'Overprint Preview` from the View menu. The PMS swatches will appear in the Swatches Panel, though.

  • Because spot colors can only be transferred from Photoshop [to the PDF] to InDesign as spot channels, which are always raster, the PDF technique won't help with PMS text or vectors. Create spot color text or vector graphics in InDesign.

  • Totally learn something new today about spot Channels! Do you know if people use that a lot for magazine ads? to ensure their color come out right in publication? Once again, Thank you Mar 28, 2014 at 15:44
  • Yikes! Sorry that I missed this earlier. Pantone colors are often used in high-end magazine ads and product packaging where very exact colors (cosmetics, fashion) or very particular colors (foods) are not reproducible with CMYK alone. Carefully pull apart some cereal boxes or other packaging and you'll see the extra colors in the row of color bars that are often left on a hidden part of the carton, box, etc.. Jun 3, 2014 at 23:36

Are you printing in Pantone? Most of our printers will convert to 4 color anyway (as Pantone ink is purchased separately and is expensive) so its not really worth it to work in pantones unless you intend to pay for that exact color.

Also, Photoshop doesn't have crop & bleed PDF settings, so you can oversize your art for the bleed or under trim it, but it really isn't the best program for print-ready art. I do occasionally see it used, but as far as your pantones go, they probably got converted to 4 color.


if you are trying to save a psd file with spot colors you will have to create them in a channel and then save the file as a dcs format to be able to transfer the color info to other programs such as indesign or quarkXpress or illustrator

  • Hi user27087, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer. I downvoted your answer because I have problems understanding what you are trying to say. Could you please be a bit more elaborate in your answer? Thanks again and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:25
  • is that better :-)
    – macuser
    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:39

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