How to Find PMS Color in Illustrator

Pantone is respected around the world for its color guides, known as the Pantone Matching System (or PMS). Founded in the 1950s, the guides were originally created for a New Jersey advertising agency, so they could stick to a standardized ink system. Eventually, the chemist who created the guides (a man named Lawrence Herbert) decided to buy the assets from his agency and start Pantone. Today's artists, graphic designers, interior decorators, and many other professions use Pantone guides for quality control and color consistency. 

PMS colors go beyond the standard CMYK system, which only use four inks: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. With more than a dozen additional colors available for mixing in PMS, the possibilities are nearly endless. PMS is so pervasive in today's visual culture that you'll even find it in Adobe Illustrator, allowing you to use digital Pantone colors that match the color guides. Below, we've shared how to find PMS color in Illustrator, so you can expand your palette.

1. With Illustrator open, select "Window" > "Swatches" to bring up the Swatches panel. By default, you should only see colors that fall into the CMYK range. 

2. Now, you need to remove unwanted CMYK colors and add the Pantone library. This will keep your project tidy, and eliminate the risk of colors getting mixed up. To do this, click the dropdown arrow on the top right side of the Swatches panel, and then choose "Select All Unused" from the list. 

3. With the unused CMYK swatches selected, click the arrow again and choose "Delete Swatch". If any swatches remain, you can click on them individually and select the trash icon on the bottom right side of the panel. 

4. Adding Pantone colors to the Swatches panel is easy — just choose "Window" > "Swatches Library" > "Color Books". You'll see a huge list of color options, including a variety of Pantone libraries. Depending on your illustration needs, there are Pantone libraries with metallic, pastel, process, and solid colors. Click on any library to add it to the Swatches panel. 

5. Finally, if you look at your new color options in the Swatches panel, you'll see the Pantone colors organized by their designated PMS number. To find a specific Pantone color, click on the dropdown arrow in the top right corner of the Swatches panel, and choose "Show Find Field" from the list. A new text field will appear above the swatches, allowing you to search for Pantone colors by number! 

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