Industry Insight

What You Need to Know About Imprint Colors for Your Promo Items

Are you researching promotional products and reading about terms like PMS Color, spot color, or CMYK in regard to color imprint? Unless you’ve ordered your fair share of promo products in the past (or unless you’re a veteran of the promotional advertising industry), you are probably a bit confused. Take a deep breath and relax because Quality Logo Products® is about to take you on a learning journey about imprint color and imprint color terminology you may encounter while ordering promo items for your business!

What is a PMS (Pantone Matching System) Color?*

Let’s say your logo is blue and therefore you want a blue imprint – that sounds easy enough, right? Well, there are so many different shades of blue that you run the risk of imprinting your items with a color that doesn’t do your logo justice. Even specific color names like “Royal Blue” can vary drastically between items and printers. To avoid “settling” for a similar color and taking your chances with the finished product, many promotional products companies (including Quality Logo Products®) offer the Pantone Matching System (PMS) to keep everything in line. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) assigns a number code to each ink color, which reassures you that Printer A (who may be printing your company t-shirts) and Printer B (who might be printing your click pens) are using the SAME blue on both items. PMS color matches are available on most promo items upon request, and please note that an additional fee may apply in some cases. If you have any questions, always contact your customer service representative for more details before you place your order.

Unless stated otherwise, all items on can be printed using the Pantone Matching System (PMS)!

What is a spot color?*

Spot color refers to one ink color that’s printed from a single plate. For example, the One Color/One Location items listed on the Quality Logo Products® site are printed this way. Spot color printing is effective when the printed matter contains only one to three different colors, but it becomes significantly more expensive if you opt for more colors.

Spot color printing is different than process color printing (also called CMYK or four-color printing) because it uses four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black or CMYK) to produce all other colors.

What is process printing?*

The process color printing process, also referred to as CMYK, digital, or Four-Color Process, uses a combination of ink colors blue (cyan), red (magenta), yellow (yellow), and black (black) dots to create photograph-like images. Images of photo quality would be impossible to print with spot color printing.

*It’s also important to remember that all computer monitors display colors differently. Due to technological differences in the specs, an LCD/flat-panel monitor may display colors differently onscreen than a CRT/tube monitor. What does that mean to you? It means that the colors you view on your screen may not be an EXACT representation of the colors that are printed on the final order. If you are concerned about getting an exact color and you’re ordering from Quality Logo Products®, then we STRONGLY suggest that you provide your own PMS color/number in the allotted space when you order. If a PMS color is not provided by you, the customer, then a color will be assigned by your account representative at his or her discretion. Quality Logo Products® cannot be held responsible for any misrepresentation of colors due to the difference in monitors OR if you are unhappy with the color printed but did not indicate a valid PMS color prior to authorizing the final order. Please refer to our PMS Color Matcher for a list of available ink colors.

Again, contact us if you have any questions (866-312-5646 or!