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HTML Web Color Names

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Web Color Names ...

The use of color names instead of hexadecimal color codes is generally frowned upon because the results are likely to be unpredictable in different browsers or on different platforms. Previously, there was no standard for web color names and different browsers often rendered color based on color names in a different manner to each other. The situation has improved marginally because there is now a 'W3C Recommendation' that provides a standard for sixteen basic color names and these sixteen color names should render the same way in different browsers or on different platforms. Color names other than the sixteen listed immediately below should not be used and you should use the hexadecimal color codes instead.

You will note that there are two color swatches associated with each color. The color of the left swatches has bee achieved using HEX color codes (e.g. '#FFFF00') and the color for the adjoining right swatches has been achieved using the associated color names (e.g. 'yellow'). This comparison will enable you to visually check that the browser you are using now is rendering the color names in the same way as the hexadecimal color codes.

Swatches Name HEX RGB Swatches Name HEX RGB
#000000 black Black #000000 0,0,0 #008000 green Green #008000 0,128,0
#C0C0C0 silver Silver #C0C0C0 192,192,192 #00FF00 lime Lime #00FF00 0,255,0
#808080 gray Gray #808080 128,128,128 #808000 olive Olive #808000 128,128,0
#FFFFFF white White #FFFFFF 255,255,255 #FFFF00 yellow Yellow #FFFF00 255,255,0
#800000 maroon Maroon #800000 128,0,0 #000080 navy Navy #000080 0,0,128
#FF0000 red Red #FF0000 255,0,0 #0000FF blue Blue #0000FF 0,0,255
#800080 purple Purple #800080 128,0,128 #008080 teal Teal #008080 0,128,128
#FF00FF fuchsia Fuchsia #FF00FF 255,0,255 #00FFFF aqua Aqua #00FFFF 0,255,255

Once I had completed creating this 'color names table' I more fully understand why the world of web color names is such a troublesome area. The color that the W3C Recommendation calls lime is in fact RGB green, the color they call green I would call dark-green, the color they call fuchsia is RGB magenta, the color they call aqua is RGB cyan and the color they call silver I would call gray. Silver (or gold) cannot be displayed as a flat color on an RGB device because metallic colors require a metallic content to be displayed accurately. Finally, eight of the sixteen colors are not browser-safe colors. Perhaps it is not for me to be critical of a W3C Recommendation but I think that I will continue using RGB hexadecimal color codes in my own web development? You very soon get used to them.

Netscape Legacy Names ...

The color name chart displayed below is a direct adaptation of the Color Values chart located in Appendix B of Netscape's Client-Side JavaScript Reference v1.3. The Reference states that 'The string literals in this appendix can be used to specify colors in the JavaScript alinkColor, bgColor, fgColor, linkColor, and vLinkColor properties and the fontcolor method. You can also use these string literals to set the colors in HTML tags'. The Reference then goes on to tell us 'Instead of using the string to specify a color, you can use the red, green, and blue hexadecimal values shown in the table.

In plain English we interpret this as saying that if you want to use these colors in JavaScript scripts then you can use the color names but if you want to use these colors in HTML Tags (or CSS Styles) then you should use the HEX color codes. My recommendation is that you should use HEX color codes under all circumstances, particularly in view of the fact that I cannot remember ever using JavaScript to set color values.

Leaving all this to one side and understanding that many of the colors in this chart are not browser-safe, I would commend this chart as being a thoroughly useful resource and I have used it on many occasions when other color charts has not met my needs. I consider the colors in this chart to be particularly well thought out and I am only sorry that these colors have not been adopted by W3C as industry standards. However, I only use the color names for my own personal reference and always use the HEX color codes when specifying color on a web page.


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Many users prefer to link directly to individual content pages on Web-Wise-Wizard. If you would like to do this then we have provided the following HTML/CSS link script which you can copy and paste directly into your HTML editor. Alternatively, you might like to use our New Dynamic Link Generator to create a link that more fully meets your own particular requirements.

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Web-Wise-Wizard - HTML Web Color Names This page displays the sixteen standardised colors that are approved by W3C and should render the same in all browsers. It also displays the 140 color contained in Netscape's JavaScript Reference.

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