Colours Spaces

Written on the 26 July 2013 by Kellie Williams

Colours Spaces


PMS, RGB and CMYK are the three most prominent colour spaces used in design circles. Here is a basic understanding of the differences.

PMS refers to the patented Pantone Colour Matching System used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric and plastics. By standardising colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. You can find out more at

RGB is the colour space used by computer monitors, TVs and electronic displays. It refers to the colours Red, Green and Blue and, using a combination of these, images are created with light. RGB should be used when designing for electronic output e.g. websites, web banners, buttons, emails, etc.

CMYK refers to the four process ink colors: cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black. A combination of these colours can be used to mix other colours, such as is done by your bubblejet or laser printer. These colours are generally not as bright because they are reflected (light bounces off them) rather than refracted (like the tiny lamps inside your TV). CMYK is used when designing for print e.g. flyers, brochures and stationery.

Taking care to know your logo colours in each of these different formats will mean it reproduces equally well across a broad range of mediums, and always looks right!

This article was published in Zoom in Business Magazine Issue 9

Kellie WilliamsAuthor: Kellie Williams
About: Kellie studied Commercial Art over 25 years ago at James Cook University and has been working in the Printing and Media industries ever since. She has worked for screenprinters, printing companies and newspapers in North Queensland and now runs her own business, Jasper Design, servicing Qld and interstate clients.
Connect via: LinkedIn


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