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I inherited a design master file of several labels that has a Pantone color. However when I copy and paste one label I need into a new ai file to be saved as a PDF for printing... I get the error message "unexpected results"

How do I retain that color or convert it to a spot color for printing?


  • 1
    Does the file have a spot color interacting with transparency? Opacity? Blend modes? Etc. Select All and what does Object > Flatten Transparency show as a preview? (that's a warning not an error - only alerting to to possible issues. It doesn't mean there is an issue.)
    – Scott
    May 10, 2017 at 18:15
  • I added a link to a stripped down version of the file above. It would appear when I select the object with the Pantone color in question and do as you mentioned "Object > Flatten Transparency" that it saves correctly (?) At least without throwing any errors messages... So I'
    – Marc
    May 11, 2017 at 0:53
  • doubled posted sorry.
    – Marc
    May 11, 2017 at 0:56
  • Should I select preserve alpha transparency when saving?
    – Marc
    May 11, 2017 at 1:14
  • Sorry. Strike my previous reply. I'm STILL getting the same error as mentioned in the original post IF I paste it into a new blank AI document and then try to save. I do not get that error if I save it in its original file.
    – Marc
    May 11, 2017 at 1:45

1 Answer 1


This message is a warning. It is not an error.

Illustrator presents this warning whenever you have spot color mixed with other color (CMYK or RGB). Even if everything is fine in the file.

What Illustrator is alerting you to is that there may be a change in colors if you used any transparency in the file and a spot color interacts with that transparency. Transparency constitutes anything with utilizes an opacity setting or a blend mode.

If you have no such interactions, then the warning is just a warning and you can ignore it.

This warning does not mean there is a problem with the file. It is just telling you to check the file. Illustrator can't check the file for you. All Illustrator knows is that there is transparency somewhere and there is a spot color somewhere in the file. Illustrator does not know if the spot color actually interacts with the transparency. The warning is not referencing any color usage, it's referencing transparency usage. You need to check that.

What happens when spot color interacts with transparency is that the output will use CMYK to blend the appearance colors. You can't place a 100C 50% transparent object on top of a solid pantone color and expect to retain the solid pantone color by default -- you would need to adjust knockouts or overprints.

An easy way to check transparency in any file is to Select > All, then choose Object > Flatten Transparency and tick the Preview box. Look at what the preview does to the artwork (don't click OK, just look). Or use the Flattener Preview Panel (Window > Flattener Preview) to see where transparency is in the file. Those are the elements where transparency is a factor.

The file you linked to appears fine, although it is a 5 color piece of art (CMYK+1). But then, I'm not getting the warning with it either. So I think you may have removed something which may have been triggering the warning.

  • Brilliant! Thank you so much for taking the time for such detailed and thorough answer.
    – Marc
    May 11, 2017 at 14:58

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