The difference between PMS, CMYK, RGB and HEX and why you need to know

Apr 28, 2021 | Marketing & Sponsorship



As a business owner you potentially wear many hats, but perhaps Graphic Designer perhaps isn’t one of them. So we’ve put together a quick guide to printing, files and what you need to know to ensure you get quality, consistent branding across all of your printed and designed items.


It’s a possibility that you have had or continue to have different people working on packing, uniforms, social designs, websites and more. You will have your final products and designs shown across different devices, tvs, mobiles, tablets, computers, printing surfaces etc. To maintain consistency for both print and digital colours we use different names to describe the “colour” we are using, depending on the medium it will end up on. There are four main types of colour descriptions we use PMS, CMYK, RGB and Hex.


CMYK and PMS are the two colour types we use for printing and embroidery. PMS (Pantone) is used for offset printing and ideally for stationery, one or two colour jobs and a few other instances.

PMS (or Pantone) are patented, standardised colour inks made by the Pantone company. They have a formula guide of over 1750 colours that are sold to printers either premixed or as a formula that printers mix on premises. Designers and printers use the same colour guides to select and print the PMS colours. So when you work with a designer be sure to find out what colour system they have provided you the information for.


Also used in offset printing as well as digital printing is CMYK. more commonly used for flyers, posters, cards etc. CMYK or four colour process is where the four coloured inks, cyan, magenta, yellow and black are printed as transparent dots that overlap each other to create a wider spectrum of colours. This is different to Pantone being that  PMS is one single solid colour. So again be sure to find out from your designer if you have the CMYK colour combination.


The RGB colour term is used for on screen or digital designs for computer screens, phones and TV. RGB is the process by which colors are rendered onscreen by using combinations of red, green and blue. RGB is specifically used for digital applications only, not print. You won’t be able to achieve the same colour in print as you can with RGB as the RGB colours are vibrant because they are illuminated. So if you have digital designs in RGB be sure to talk to your designer about similar colours in CMYK and Pantone for printing purposes.


The Hex colour term is used for websites, designers and developers use HEX colours in web design. Meaning you don’t need to worry about the HEX colours.


We work with our designers to convert colours for example is something is produced onscreen in RGB but we need to know the CMYK or Pantone colour match we can change the profiles over in our software. However, you do need to know some of your branding colour combination codes, for example if you have a red brand that looks like this you would need to know your CMYK or Pantone number:

If you don’t have your brand colours and the type we will always speak with you about how we can help. It is great if you have access to this information from your designer but if not that’s completely fine. As a business owner you have a lot to juggle and we want to make the process of ordering uniforms and promotional products as easy as possible for you.

If you have any questions at all about printing types, colour types or anything in between you can always give us a call on 07 3255 8755 or send us an email to [email protected]

Happy printing!


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