Pantone to HTML conversion

Written by m.a. helt
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Pantone to HTML conversion
Pantone swatch book (Pantone 02 image by Marco from

Graphic designers, printers and those in the marketing profession often use Pantone colours (commonly referred to as PMS colours) to communicate specific colour values. Requesting the colour "orange" could result in any number of colours or shades, but request PMS 159 and that is the specific shade of orange used by The University of Texas Longhorns.

Pantone colours refer to specific colours when ink is printed on paper; however, designers and marketers may still request that a specific PMS colour be used on a website. A Pantone number can not be used to specify website colours so you must convert it to the HTML colour.

Pantone Colors

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a "reference for selecting, specifying, matching and controlling ink colours," according to Pantone, Inc. Pantone colours are used by printers and designers to communicate exactly how a colour is to be printed on an offset printing press. Printers custom mix ink according to the Pantone formula to ensure a consistent colour match from job to job or printing press to printing press.

HTML Colors

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is a programming language used to create websites. Colours are defined in HTML by using hexadecimal notation (hex) to represent the combination of red, green and blue. All hex values begin with # and are made up of a series of six letters and numbers. Numbers range from 0 to 9 and letters from A to F. For example, the hex value for black is #000000 and the hex value for white is #ffffff.

Converting Pantone to HTML Using Swatch Books

Pantone's Color Bridge swatch books provide assistance in converting to different colour formulas. Swatch books are organised in numerical order based on the Pantone number. Each swatch contains the CMYK, HTML and sRGB equivalents. Swatch books are available for purchase from Pantone.

Converting Pantone to HTML Using Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop's colour picker converts Pantone colours to HTML colours with a few clicks of the mouse. First, open a new Photoshop document. Then, double click on the foreground colour square at the bottom of the tools pallet. Next, click "Color Libraries." Choose the correct Pantone book and scroll through the colour list to find the correct swatch. Click on the swatch and then click "Picker" to display several colour values. The HTML colour will be in the box labelled #.


It is important to note that the appearance of HTML colours will vary based on the operating system, browser and monitor settings. Because of this, matching a printed Pantone swatch to a computer screen will not always result in a perfect match, regardless of which conversion method is used.

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