Spot vs. Process Color Printing

Spot vs. Process Color Printing – what’s the difference?

Although we offer both spot (PMS) color printing and process color printing in-house, it is important to understand the difference between the two processes. Both spot color printing and process color printing are produced on traditional offset printing presses using printing plates and wet ink.

Spot color is an offset printing process whereby specific ink colors are mixed and put on a printing press for specific jobs. Generally speaking, spot colors are designated by the Pantone Matching System (PMS inks). PMS ink charts display hundreds of specific colors, including fluorescent and metallic inks. Using PMS inks produces the most exact ink matching available and it is critical to indicate the PMS ink color for each job.

Four color process printing uses four fixed ink colors (Process Cyan, Process Magenta, Process Yellow and Black) to simulate all other colors. Four color process printing is done on a printing press with four (or more) heads, one for each ink color. This is the most common process for full color offset printing. Although not as precise as spot color printing, process color printing produces outstanding full color output.