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Setting color in CSS


This article explains in detail the different ways you can specify color in CSS.

Information: Color

In this tutorial so far, you have used a limited number of named colors. CSS 2 supports 17 named colors in all. Some of the names might not be what you expect:

black gray silver white
primaries red lime blue
secondaries yellow aqua fuchsia
maroon orange olive purple green navy teal
### Further color keyword details

Your browser might support many more named colors, like:






For details of this extended list, see: SVG color keywords in the CSS 3 Color Module. Beware of using color names that your reader’s browsers might not support.

For a larger palette, specify the red, green and blue components of the color you want by using a number sign (hash) and three hexadecimal digits in the range 0 – 9, a – f. The letters a – f represent the values 10 – 15:

|pure red||#f00|
|pure green||#0f0|
|pure blue||#00f|

For the full palette, specify two hexadecimal digits for each component:

|pure red||#ff0000|
|pure green||#00ff00|
|pure blue||#0000ff|

You can usually get these six-digit hexadecimal codes from your graphics program or some other tool.

Further hex examples

With a little practice, you can adjust the three-digit colors manually for most purposes:

|Start with pure red:||#f00|
|To make it paler, add some green and blue:||#f77|
|To make it more orange, add a little extra green:||#fa7|
|To darken it, reduce all its components:||#c74|
|To reduce its saturation, make its components more equal:||#c98|
|If you make them exactly equal, you get gray:||#ccc|

For a pastel shade like pale blue:

|Start with pure white:||#fff|
|Reduce the other components a little:||#eef|

RGB colors

You can also specify a color using decimal RGB values in the range 0 – 255, or percentages. For example, this is maroon (dark red):

rgb(128, 0, 0)

For full details of how to specify colors, see: Colors in the CSS Specification. For information on matching system colors like Menu and ThreeDFace, see: CSS2 System Colors in the CSS Specification.

Color properties

You have already used the [color] property on text.You can also use the [background-color] property to change elements’ backgrounds. Backgrounds can be set to transparent to explicitly remove any color, revealing the parent element’s background.

background-color: #fffff4;

The More details boxes use this pale gray:

background-color: #f4f4f4;

Action: Using color codes

  1. <p>Edit your CSS file; make the change shown here in bold, to give the initial letters a pale blue background. (The layout and comments in your file probably differ from the file shown here. Keep the layout and comments the way you prefer them.)</p>

    /*** CSS Tutorial: Color page ***/
    /* page font */
    body {font: 16px "Comic Sans MS", cursive;}
    /* paragraphs */
    p {color: blue;}
    #first {font-style: italic;}
    /* initial letters */
    strong {
      color: red;
      background-color: #ddf;
      font: 200% serif;
    .carrot {color: red;}
    .spinach {color: green;}
  2. <p>Save the file and refresh your browser to see the result.</li>


    Need to add screenshot of the result?

    See also

    Other articles

    Exercise question

    In your CSS file, change all the color names to 3-digit color codes without affecting the result (this cannot be done exactly, but you can get close. To do it exactly you need 6-digit codes, and you need to look up the CSS Specification or use a graphics tool to match the colors.)


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