Need help finding out just what Pantone colours are being used in an Adobe Acrobat PDF document? It might be a bit more simple than you think! You may have a pre-existing document which you don’t have Illustrator or InDesign access to, but don’t stress, you can still find out what spot colours are being used in a PDF document.

find pms pantone colours adobe acrobat pro dc tutorial


Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

For this tip, I’m going to be using Adobe’s PDF software called Acrobat Pro. This is quite a powerful bit of software by Adobe which allows you to view, edit and prepare PDF documents. Colours sometimes need to be converted to be displayed on a monitor or sent to print correctly. PMS / Pantone Matching System colours are often used by companies as part of their global brand colour scheme. These are colours that are accurately replicated across the board, thanks to Pantone’s forumla.

How to find out what colours are being used?

Step 1:

The first step in the process to open up Adobe Acrobat DC Pro where you’ll be welcomed with their opening screen. Open up the PDF you’d like to verify the colours of, and then go up to Tools at the top left of the window.

Under the “Protect & Standardize” heading, there’s an option called “Print Production“. Lets click that option with the PDF we’d like to inspect already open.


Step 2:

At this point, another menu will popup. You can select your PDF if you haven’t already at the top tab next to Tools. With the new popup window in view (see below), we can see what colours are being used in the Adobe Acrobat PDF document.

Spot colours Adobe PDF Output Preview

This window shows us all sorts of information, including what Simulation Profile is being used, what to show in terms of bleed and trim marks, but for the purpose of this tutorial what we’re interested in is the Seperations part of the window.

In this example, the document has CMYK colours, and three spot plates to be printed. Pantone 425 C, Pantone 307 C and Pantone 2132 C are the three spot colours used in the document, but it also features some CMYK elements as I mentioned.


Toggle Spot Colours in a PDF

You can use your mouse to hover over the document, and the percentage of the colour will appear next to the name. This demonstrates how much of that colour is in use on that spot of the document.


Spot colour PDF output preview toggle

We can also toggle colours, as shown above. This allows us to visually see what colours are being used and in what location. This is important, as we might not want Pantone 425 C (for example), to be a colour in the document, but can’t find it’s location. So, to toggle the option will allow us to see where it is used.


How to remove Pantone PMS Colours from PDF?

Pantone spot colours can be removed from a document completely, often by using Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign. You can also refrain from printing certain colours of a document using Acrobat.