© 2018, The Author(s). We present a tight-binding parametrization for penta-graphene that correctly describes its electronic band structure and linear optical response. The set of parameters is validated by comparing to ab-initio density functional theory calculations for single-layer penta-graphene, showing a very good global agreement. We apply this parameterization to penta-graphene nanoribbons, achieving an adequate description of quantum-size effects. Additionally, a symmetry-based analysis of the energy band structure and the optical transitions involved in the absorption spectra is introduced, allowing for the interpretation of the optoelectronic features of these systems.