HTML Colors

  1. Color Values
    1. Hex triplet
    2. 16 Million Colors
    3. HTML Color Names
  2. Web Safe Colors
  3. Shades of Gray
  4. Safe Shades of Gray

Color Values

HTML colors are defined using a hexadecimal notation (HEX) for the combination of Red, Green, and Blue color values (RGB). Those HEX values are specified as 3 pairs of two-digit numbers, starting with a # sign. Being the lowest value that can be given to one of the light sources 0 (in HEX: 00). And the highest value 255 (in HEX: FF).

In the table below you can see the final result on turning on (HEX: FF) and off (HEX: 00) each of these values.

RGB compound colors
The Additive color model
Additive color model

Hex triplet

A hex triplet is a six-digit, three-byte hexadecimal number used to represent the red, green and blue components of the RGB color system in HTML, CSS, and other applications.

Each byte the least (00) to the most (FF) intensity of each of the color components, in the following order:

For example, considering the color where the red/green/blue hexadecimal values are 86, 42 and BA respectively. The hex triplet is obtained by concatenating those digits together, "8642BA" in this example.


Note that if any one of the three color values is less than 10 (hex), it must be represented with a leading zero so that the triplet always has exactly six digits.

For example, the hexadecimal triplet A2, 9, C, would be represented by A2090C.


16 Million Colors

The number of colors that can be represented by the "Hex triplet" system is:

256 x 256 x 256 = 16,777,216

16 Million Different Colors!

Here you can see just one of the basic 256 shadows of blue.

Blue Shadows (00 00 XX)
     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   A   B   C   D   E   F 

There are, of course, many other possibilities:

  #5F9EA0 = CadetBlue
  #4682B4 = SteelBlue
  #B0C4DE = LightSteelBlue
  #B0E0E6 = PowderBlue
  #ADD8E6 = LightBlue
  #87CEEB = SkyBlue
  #87CEFA = LightSkyBlue
  #00BFFF = DeepSkyBlue
  #1E90FF = DodgerBlue
  #6495ED = CornflowerBlue
  #7B68EE = MediumSlateBlue  
  #4169E1 = RoyalBlue
  #191970 = MidnightBlue

HTML Color Names

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has listed, in the HTML 4.01 specification, 16 valid named (case-insensitive) colors for HTML and CSS, as follows:

 #000000 = Black   #000080 = Navy   #0000FF = Blue   #008000 = Green 
 #008080 = Teal   #00FF00 = Lime   #00FFFF = Aqua   #800000 = Maroon 
 #800080 = Purple   #808000 = Olive   #808080 = Gray   #C0C0C0 = Silver 
 #FF0000 = Red   #FF00FF = Fuchsia   #FFFF00 = Yellow   #FFFFFF = White 

There are a few more non W3C web standard color names, but since different browsers may display different colors for the same color name, as a rule of thumb, avoid using them.

To achieve the same result in all browsers, always use the Hex triplet notation.

Web Safe Colors

Some years ago, when computers supported max 256 different colors, a list of 216 "Web Safe Colors" was suggested as a Web standard, reserving 40 fixed system colors.

The 216 cross-browser color palette was created to ensure that all computers would display the colors correctly when running a 256 color palette.

This is not important now, since most computers can display millions of different colors. Anyway here is the list:

Keep in mind however, that many companies that hire designers and developers still feel it's a badge of Web design honor to work with these colors, so you might want to know how to use them if you have to.

*000000* *000033*  000066   000099   0000CC  *0000FF*
 003300   003333   003366   003399   0033CC   0033FF 
 006600   006633   006666   006699   0066CC   0066FF 
 009900   009933   009966   009999   0099CC   0099FF 
 00CC00   00CC33   00CC66   00CC99   00CCCC   00CCFF 
 00FF00   00FF33   00FF66   00FF99   00FFCC   00FFFF 
 330000   330033   330066   330099   3300CC   3300FF 
 333300   333333   333366   333399   3333CC   3333FF 
 336600   336633   336666   336699   3366CC   3366FF 
 339900   339933   339966   339999   3399CC   3399FF 
 33CC00   33CC33   33CC66   33CC99   33CCCC   33CCFF 
 33FF00  *33FF33* *33FF66*  33FF99  *33FFCC* *33FFFF*
 660000   660033   660066   660099   6600CC   6600FF 
 663300   663333   663366   663399   6633CC   6633FF 
 666600   666633   666666   666699   6666CC   6666FF 
 669900   669933   669966   669999   6699CC   6699FF 
 66CC00   66CC33   66CC66   66CC99   66CCCC   66CCFF 
*66FF00* *66FF33*  66FF66   66FF99   66FFCC  *66FFFF*
 990000   990033   990066   990099   9900CC   9900FF 
 993300   993333   993366   993399   9933CC   9933FF 
 996600   996633   996666   996699   9966CC   9966FF 
 999900   999933   999966   999999   9999CC   9999FF 
 99CC00   99CC33   99CC66   99CC99   99CCCC   99CCFF 
 99FF00   99FF33   99FF66   99FF99   99FFCC   99FFFF 
 CC0000   CC0033   CC0066   CC0099   CC00CC   CC00FF 
 CC3300   CC3333   CC3366   CC3399   CC33CC   CC33FF 
 CC6600   CC6633   CC6666   CC6699   CC66CC   CC66FF 
 CC9900   CC9933   CC9966   CC9999   CC99CC   CC99FF 
*FF0000* *FF0033*  FF0066   FF0099   FF00CC  *FF00FF*
 FF3300   FF3333   FF3366   FF3399   FF33CC   FF33FF 
 FF6600   FF6633   FF6666   FF6699   FF66CC   FF66FF 
 FF9900   FF9933   FF9966   FF9999   FF99CC   FF99FF 
Really Safe web colors

Some of the above colors fits nice in 8-bit color displays which were much more common when the 216-color palette was developed than they are now.

David Lehn and Hadley Stern discovered that only 22 of the 216 colors in the web-safe palette are consistent reliably displayed remapping on 16-bit computer displays. They called these 22 colors the "really safe" palette, in the table above, the "really safe" colors are *underlined*.

Shades of Gray

Gray colors are, in general, created by using an equal amount of power to each of the RGB colors.

In the table below you can see all the "official" shades of gray.

Gray Shades

Of course, there are others, which some of them you can see below.

  #C0C0C8 = light gray with a little blue
  #C0C8C8 = light gray with a little cyan
  #C0CBC6 = light gray more greenish
  #C0C6CB = light gray more bluish
  #F5F5FF = Brighter gray with a little blue

By now, lets keep with the "official" definition of the shades of gray table.

Safe Shades of Gray

Unfortunately not all of the Shades of gray are safe and will be correctly displayed in all environments.

So, considering the "Safe Web Colors" listed above, here is the "Safe Shades of Gray" list.

#666666  #999999  #CCCCCC 

Which is a very limited one.