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Colors and Hexadecimal Values

Demonstration of hexadecimal counting

When working on the Web, colors are specified using their hexadecimal values. The hexadecimal method of counting involves starting at 0 and continuing to f. The full counting range is 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f. Reach color in the RGB system is assigned a value based on this method of counting.

Thus, true red is coded as ff0000. The first two digits in the code represent the “amount” of red that is to be displayed. That amount is ff. The next two digits represent the amount of green, 00. The last two digits are for the quantity of blue, again 00. Thus, in true red, ff0000, there is ff amount of red, no green, and no blue.


The hexadecimal code for true green is 00ff00. True blue is 0000ff. Varying the amounts of red, green, and blue specifies other colors. 33CC99 is a particular shade of green, for instance. A complete browser safe color chart showing actual colors and their codes may be viewed by clicking here. The chart will open in a new window.

NOTE: New color specification systems are just now becoming available. One such system is HSL. HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Lightness. You can learn more about HSL on our page here.

Interestingly, there are actual names for some of the browser safe colors. Rather than specifying the hexadecimal code in a Web page, it is possible to use these color names. Although 216 names exist, such as aquamarine, beige, and red, only 147 of them are reliable. Browsers do not recognize the entire list. In some instances, two or more names apply to the same color. The use of names is highly discouraged when building a Web page.

Web Color

3486fd 26ffda 66ab13 ab1237 86fab3
1100fd 144487 86cd57 9812f3 9900bb
00ff13 005500 551100 aabbcc dd1100
Colors that are not browser safe are specified in the box above. If the colors in the box above do not appear on your screen, try viewing it with another browser.

With old browsers Web designers were always concerned about the ability of a browser to display a color. What happened when a browser is asked to display a color that is not in its color pallet? There are two options. In some circumstances the browser would substitute a browser safe color for the new one. However, in other situations the browser attempted to compose the new color combining several browser safe colors. In the case of a photograph, for instance, the results will be small dots all over a region that should actually look like a solid color. These dots will each be one of the several browser safe colors that make up the new color when viewed together.

The chart on the right is made up of colors that are not from the browser safe list. If you have an old browser you might see gray blocks. However, you are probably using a new browser so you should see all the colors displayed properly.

Click here to go to the next page, Color, Theme, Mood, and Message