Pantone C Vs. CVC

By Fraser Sherman

Pantone's color library consists of 1,000 different spots of color.
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Pantone's color reference library has more than 1,000 colors. Since the system's birth in 1963, it's been used in fashion, graphic design and computer graphics programs. C and CVC are among Pantone's designations for the types of paper their inks are used on: different paper results in a slightly different palette.


Pantone developed its original color library to standardize the colors of printer ink instead of each manufacturer defining its own colors. Pantone's color reference library is a spot library. Each spot takes up a point in the color spectrum, identifying a slightly different shade, which Pantone labels with a distinctive name. The company's goal is to span as much of the visible color range as ink can encompass and give users a common, consistent reference point, no matter who supplies their printer ink.

The Color System

Pantone starts out with 14 basic colors, including Yellow, Purple, Yellow 012, Process Blue, Reflex Blue and Rubine Red. These colors then combine to create the full Pantone palette. Pantone 165 C, for example, is a mix of 50 percent Yellow and Warm Red. Pantone Transparent White is added to 163 C and 162 C for a lighter mix while 166 C and 167 C incorporate some Black for a darker hue. The color formulas haven't changed over the years. But as printer paper changes, the appearance of the colors on the page also changes.

C and CVC

CVC and CVU paper refer to paper used in computer printers: Computer Video Coated and Computer Video Uncoated, respectively. Other names in the system include CV for Computer Video simulations of printed colors, and EC for Euro Color, referring to a European version of the library. In 2000, Pantone dropped its slate of suffixes, including the CVC designation and adopted a uniform, simplified labeling system of Coated (C), Uncoated (U) and Matte (M).


When Pantone updated its color suffixes, it also changed the labels in the color palette. This poses problems if you work with older files in Illustrator or other computer programs that were created under the older system, as the CVC number may not match the same number in the current system. Illustrator allows designers to migrate to the newer palette, but other design software uses different approaches. As a result, designers may get different color results when working with older files in different programs.