How Will The New PANTONE Goe System Affect Your Work?

Did you know the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM® is 45 years old? I didn’t. Back then, the design and publishing industries were vastly different from what they are today—computers weren’t even available to the general public, let alone on each of our desktops as they are today. And yet, we are still throwing ink on rubber blankets with oil and water in order to get the ink on the paper. Ours is an industry where old and new technologies converge. So I am understandably excited that Pantone has announced today a new coloring system, the PANTONE Goeâ„¢, that seeks to update our use of color in design and printing.

Goe set

The PANTONE Goe System’s packaging—very slick, designed for designers. Click to enlarge.

Hard Facts For Designers

Goe will not replace the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM, or PMS. While I would expect Goe to at least affect the way PMS is used in the future, Pantone says PMS will not disappear as a result of Goe. “The original PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM was designed to meet the needs of an industry that was functioning without a precise and reliable way to communicate color,” said Richard Herbert, president of Pantone, Inc. “The PANTONE Goe System works in concert with the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM to empower everyone in the creative and production process with a simpler, more complete, user-friendly workflow from the moment of inspiration to the realization of a finished product.”

Goe has more colors. PMS offers 1,114 colors; Goe offers 2,058 new colors. Not only are there more colors, but the palette has been expanded to meet designers’ needs: green, for example, is a hot color so now there’s plenty more greens to choose from. Designers are always looking for the perfect color to complement their creations, and Goe’s expanded palette should ensure the perfect color exists outside of process color.

Goe swatchbook fanned out

The Goe swatchbook is organized very differently than the standard PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE. Click to enlarge.

The Goe swatchbook (dubbed the “GoeGuideâ„¢” by Pantone) is arranged chromatically. As you can see in the image above, the Goe system is organized so it is far easier to find colors. A big component of this new organizational system is a chromatic arrangement of the colors in swatchbooks.

Goe colors’ numbers mean something. Do you know why “280” means a blue in PMS terms? I don’t know why. But Goe’s numbering system is designed so the numbers do give a clue as to what a color might be. Again, I will explain this in detail.

GoeGuides tell you how to convert its colors to RGB—not CMYK. Goe System colors are all easily converted to RGB: the numbers are right in the GoeGuide, as always. You won’t find CMYK equivalents, however. Pantone knows that the design world is now interdisciplinary, encompasses a variety of media (some of which are not printed with process color), worldwide and more sophisticated than ever. As a result, Goe is moving forward with the RGB model of color.

Hard Facts For Printers And Press Operators

Goe offers more colors but less mixing bases. The PMS uses 14 basic colors as mixing bases, plus PANTONE Clear, with which it gets the other 1,100 colors in its system. Printers wanted to get more colors but with less mixing bases, so Goe reduces the number of mixing bases to 10 (plus PANTONE Clear). This is a big bonus for printers because less inks are required in inventory and it’s easier to obtain these mixing bases worldwide, ensuring that color will be uniform across the world. The mixing bases are also designed to create consistent color with a variety of aqueous and UV coating and papers, and to print with uniform thickness so drying times are reduced and it’s easier to match colors on press.

Here are the Goe mixing bases:

  • PANTONE Medium Yellow
  • PANTONE Medium Purple
  • PANTONE Bright Orange
  • PANTONE Dark Blue
  • PANTONE Bright Red
  • PANTONE Medium Blue
  • PANTONE Strong Red
  • PANTONE Bright Green
  • PANTONE Pink
  • PANTONE Neutral Black
  • PANTONE Clear

The Goe System was created under strict ISO guidelines. Pantone used new, specially engineered presses and an ISO quality management infrastructure (ISO 9001:2000) to produce the Goe System, which means it’s as standards-based as you can get. Its swatchbooks, including its GoeGuides and related products, are produced in the same production environment.

GoeGuides are printed on the closest thing to “standard” paper. The GoeGuide is printed on #1 grade 100 lb coated offset text, which their research indicates is the most common premium paper used today for commercial offset lithography and digital printing.

17 thoughts on “How Will The New PANTONE Goe System Affect Your Work?”

  1. How about the RGB colorspace? Is it based on sRGB? How do you transfer color info from there to AdboeRGB or any other color space.
    ISO for process consistency is fine, but how about printing standards such as ISO 12647-2 or Gracol 7 process control?

  2. Henk, here’s the response from Ellen Pinto at Pantone:

    “The values in the Goe Guide are based on sRGB color space and are intended for Web site design. The myPalette software defaults to sRGB color, but in the Preferences section of the software, the user can change this to Adobe98 RGB for print.

    “The Goe System is a spot color standard. ISO 12647-2 and Gracol 7 are process color standards.”

  3. That’s right. It’s good to read that Pantone changed the documentation (Whitepaper on the site) and allows users to use other RGB-spaces to obtain the proper RGB values for RGB print. How about the use of output conditions such as SWOP or ISOcoated profiles to determine what the CMYK process colors will be?
    Any information appreciated.

  4. Here’s Pantone’s response:

    “Pantone supports the precepts of color managed workflows. As such, any application that supports ICC profiles would be able to translate our color data into a properly defined ICC space (either color or device space) for further use. One caveat… the transforms used in ICC profiling are not necessarily the “best” results that are obtainable in print. Rather, the transforms make a number of assumptions in the creation of CMYK data that should be validated before trusting the output for final CMYK printing. As an example, our research into the area of gamut mapping and our extensive licensing of digital print devices and creation of hundreds of device specific look up tables (LUT’s) has shown us that a direct mapping of ICC profiles to a basic CMYK space typically needs 3 to 7 iterations or additional adjustments to achieve Pantone’s quality level of results. Generic SWOP profiles do not necessarily achieve this result in and of themselves. In addition, the mapping of spot colors into the CMYK space early in the production cycle presents other potential drawbacks to achieving the highest possible quality of PANTONE Colors. When PANTONE Colors are converted to CMYK they may lose their named color identity. As such, any further downstream processing that understands PANTONE Colors (e.g. Artworks / PitStop or EFI RIP’s) would not be able to apply a tuned look up table (LUT) to achieve better results. Rather, the entire page would be treated as one generic CMYK image. This would mean that any changes by the pre-press or press operators to do global color changes (e.g. bump up the magenta) would move ALL the colors – including Pantone’s. Pantone highly recommends that applications retain spot colors in their output formats and we support a “late binding” approach to CMYK generation where the final separations and transforms into CMYK space happen as late in the process as possible and with known device specific print conditions rather than “generic” transforms into a middle-of-the-road CMYK space.”

  5. This is the kind of information designers need to have. Why is this kind of info not part of the Whitepaper on Pantone Goe?
    We have had a lot of troubles with different versions of color scales. different substrates, different printing conditions etc. Plus American and Euro versions. Pantone must be generic and international applicable. Goe can have an important role but it’s essential that Pantone provides the proper information to designers and printers. The fact that PMS and Goe will be used simultaniously forces Pantone to provide solid information on both systems. Plus an in-depth expanation how the optimal color quality can be obtained. If they don’t provide the right info it – most probably- will increase the number of chapters in the book “Pantone Nightmare?”

  6. I think we’ll find that—eventually—the problems associated with having to maintain two color systems will make the phase-out of the PMS more likely. Goe already contains many if not all of the PMS colors.

  7. What I find a little hard to grasp here is that they only provide RGB equivalents.

    Do they expect people to print in RGB? And is the ultimate goal to rule out CMYK printing to get a better work flow between screen and print? Thanks in advance.

  8. I’m getting the RGB/CMYK question from everyone I talk to about Goe. If you read Pantone’s comment above (posted by me on 9/18), they think that simply converting the RGB color to CMYK (1) late in the workflow, and (2) with a good color management framework supporting it, is enough. After hearing people talk, and thinking about my own work, I’m starting to wonder if it is more complicated than that. At the very least, there’s times I need to work with a particular PMS color translated into CMYK numbers. With InDesign, I just select the PMS color and make the swatch process (not spot) and that must be the kind of workflow Pantone is thinking about. But I know it will not be this easy in all situations. I think the print community would benefit if Goe had a spot-to-process guide as PMS does.

  9. Thanks Jeremy. I do the same as you or output spots to CMYK when I output a PDF for printing. What I find hard to believe is that the RGB values will cross across gracefully. I know if I shift an images colour space (from RGB to CMYK) in PS that it dulls noticeably, this may make people adjust the CMYK values themselves which could result in inconsistency. All seems a bit strange but then u humans don’t like change and sometimes it helps. Thanks again. :)

  10. The problem with RGB and CMYK is that some PMS colors (and now Goe colors) will never convert gracefully and without color shifting. CMYK is a more restrictive gamut, and Pantone can either live with some not converting exactly—or throwing them out altogether and leaving us with a limited, CMYK-friendly set of colors. PMS colors have CMYK conversion numbers, but even those don’t work all the time because CMYK is just too limited. So I think a Goe spot-to-process guide would be helpful for designers, but it wouldn’t allow all the colors to translate perfectly to CMYK.

  11. It sounds like the new Goe system is geared primarily for Website design and on screen applications. However, many of us still print on old fashioned presses. For color selection it is imperative to have some idea what the color will look like early on in the conceptual phase of the design, not at the point where proofs are typically pulled. Pantone should provide CMYK equivalents… doesn’t they realize we still have to get approval from our clients?

  12. How long will it take for the industry to begin using the Goe system? Do printers still need to buy the new “specially engineered presses”? I cant find swatch libraries for the CS3 apps and Quark 6 (library is available for Quark 7.3). It would have been helpful for Pantone to have an area to download libraries off of their site.

    Geo will still need the spot to process guide (now called color bridge) and the 4 color process guides in coated, uncoated and matte cant go away. Converting spot to process does not always generate the best results, I have picked different color mixes than what the color bridge or the application suggests. Plus, coated and uncoated stocks often require different color mixes for consistent color.

  13. I happened to see the comment from Brad (above) about downloading the Goe library for CS3 and Quark. Visit and you’ll find links for both. However, the Quark link seems to go to a Quark 8 trial download.

    The download for CS3 works well, it installs coated and uncoated libraries for InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.

  14. If PMS isn’t going to be replaced by Goe then how can you say that printers are going to have to carry fewer inks in inventory when they’re adding 11 colors to our shelves plus all of the ink that we save after mixing and running the job?

    Let’s not forget the hundreds of dollars we’re going to have to spend on the “Goe Guides” for each of our presses.

    Just how many colors do designers need? This is just a gimmic for Pantone to make more money.

  15. Hi,
    I’ve recently started to do some work involving print, after only digital work, and wanted to know what kind of Pantone guide (out of all the ones available) I need. After reading a lot on the subject, including pages on this site, thank you, there’s still something a bit unclear.
    I’m only going to print full colour myself, so I need the CMYK values (and corresponding RGB values for the digital part), but I also have to give my costumers the corresponding PMS colours for future use. So I wanted to purchase the Pantone Color Bridge (that is the right choice here, right?), but there’s also this GoeBridge with new colours and I’m wondering if I need both, or if one of the two would be sufficient?
    I hope I was clear in my explanation (not being a native speaker) and am already very grateful for any answers.

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