Im new to Pantone colors and have some doubts. I started using Pantone Bridge Coated book and Pantone software named Pantone Color Manager. Software is regularly updated and I export palettes as soon as update happens.

What I noticed is next (will took color 109C as an example):

  • Pantone Bridge Coated book have same CMYK values as shown in Pantone Color Manager (as you can see in image bellow) enter image description here
  • When I export palettes from Pantone Color Manager to Illustrator CS6 and check the same color, I get a little bit different CMYK values, like: enter image description here

Main question: Why this happens, and how can i get same values in Illustrator? Please note, that Im directly exporting palettes from Pantone software (where color values match values in the book), but for some reason I get different values in Illustrator.

Side question: You can notice that on posted images there are different HEX and RGB values (comparing picture and screenshot from software). I guess that Pantone periodically alter color values in order to get best combination possible. If that is the case, I should stick to values which i receive from Pantone software and use Pantone book to quickly get colors for project. Is this right?

  • I won't post this as an answer becouse I can not back it up. Pantone keeps changing the cmyk values on their specification from time to time. It could be due to some changes in general specifications like swop itself, but I remember dowloading a color specification from pantone's site, and several years later the same specifications changed a lot. I can't find them anymore on pantone's site to proove it. Probably just using diferent versions of ilustrator using the same installed library.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 1:06

2 Answers 2


First the obvious: Please make sure - when importing in Illustrator - that the document color mode is set to File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color.

Also make sure the spotcolor options in the swatch-panel is set to

Use CMYK values from the manufacturer's process books

More Info about using-Pantone-colors-stuff from the Adobe Help Page


Those numbers out of context are devoid of meaning. That is saying cmyk 0 9 100 0 means nothing accurate. Without a specification on what particular CMYK space is in question. Each printer be it a offset press or desktop printer prints a different color with said CMYK values. Reason for this is different inks have different colors different opacities. Systems have different rasters. Different papers react differently. Most importantly each systems has different age, this affects the color output.

Staring at the numbers without having configured your program and your printers to the correct color space is meaningless. In fact if you have a different configuration your supposed to get different numbers. Thats what it means. Same color but different formulation leads to as close match as possible on a different system.

Second pantone can not be accurately converted to cmyk. But you can measure the actual color with scientific instruments and come as close as possible. But since pantone could have metamers that are not possible to construct with your basis then the closest solution is slightly debatable. Its perfectly valid to come to a different conclusion that is as valid as another.


Color is complex

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