How to Find Pantone Color in Illustrator

Updated February 21, 2017

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based graphics program that uses mathematical formulas to create points, lines, curves and shapes. Illustrator comes with a range of colour books, each one a collection of colour swatches, that can be used to add colour to vector artwork. Some of the colour books that are available are from the Pantone Corporation, a company that owns a standardised colour reproduction system widely used in printing. If you are given the name of a Pantone colour, you can look it up and reproduce it in Illustrator.

Open a new print document in Adobe Illustrator. Click the "Window" menu at the top of the program window, then hover your cursor over "Swatch Libraries" to open the sub-menu. Hover your cursor over "Color Books."

Select a Pantone colour book and click on it. If the colour for which you are searching has a letter on the end of it ("Pantone 663 C," for example), you will want to choose the colour book that goes with that letter. The letter "C" denotes the Pantone Solid Coated colour book, the letter "M" means the colour will be found in the Pantone Solid Matte colour book, etc.

Click the window options menu in the upper right corner of the Pantone colour book window, and choose "Show Find Field." This will open a small "Find" text field above the Pantone colour book swatches.

Type the number for your Pantone colour into the "Find" text field. As you type, the window will begin to find colours that match your entry. When you have finished typing the number, the selected colour swatch should be a match. If there is no match, try another Pantone colour book by repeating Steps 3 and 4.


These instructions apply to Adobe Illustrator versions CS, CS2, CS3 and CS4.

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About the Author

Chris Hoke is a freelance writer, blogger and musician living in the San Francisco bay area. He began writing professionally in 2005 and his articles regularly appear on and