All About Color Systems

I’ve been asked a lot over the years about color systems so here are the basics for if you were curious…


  • Stands for: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black)
  • AKAs: Process Color, Four Color
  • Used for: print. If used for digital colors will be dull.
  • How it works: Colors are created by printing dots of the 4 colors which are overlapped.
  • How you would see it written: C92 M0 Y41 K11 or (92,0,41,11)


  • Stands for: Red, Green, Blue
  • Used for: digital. If used for print colors will be dull (screens have a wider range of colors)
  • How it works: Made by mixing combinations of the 3 colors.
  • How you would see it written: R19 G226 B113  (19,226,133)
  • Note: RGB is a dependent color so it can vary screen to screen depending on your settings.


  • Stands for: Hexadecimal – like a short code for RGB colors
  • Used for: digital – especially websites.
  • How it works: The code is divided into the 3 RGB colors, which pairs of numbers standing for each of R, G and B
  • How you would see it written: #13E285


  • Stands for: Pantone Matching System
  • AKAs: PMS
  • Used for: print primarily
  • How it works: Pantone colors are a solid or spot color rather than mixing.
  • Pros: you get color consistency all across your brand
  • Cons: It can get expensive
  • How you would see it written: PANTONE 17-3938

Also – if you ever want/need to convert a color from one system to another, here is a useful link for you:

Hope this helps.