HTML - Colors

Color Names

In HTML, you can use predefined color names to apply colors to elements. These color names are easy to remember and provide a quick way to specify colors without using complex color models like RGB or hexadecimal notation.

HTML supports many color names that you can use in your web pages. Some commonly used color names include:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Black
  • White
  • Gray

For a complete list of supported color names in HTML, refer to the W3C's official color chart.

To use a color name in HTML, specify the name as the value of the appropriate CSS property.

Example: Set paragraph text to blue

<p style="color: blue;">This is a blue paragraph.</p>

You can also set the background color of an element using a color name:

Example: Set div background to yellow

<div style="background-color: yellow;">This div has a yellow background.</div>

While convenient for applying colors quickly, there are some limitations with using only predefined color names:

  1. Limited options: The number of supported colors is limited compared to other models. You may not find the exact shade or hue you need.
  2. Lack of flexibility: Color names do not offer flexibility like RGB or hex colors. You cannot adjust brightness, saturation, or opacity.
  3. Readability and maintainability: Using many different named colors in your HTML code can make it less readable and harder to maintain.

Despite these limitations, named colors can still be useful for quick prototyping or when applying basic colors to your web page elements.

RGB Colors

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is a color model that represents colors by mixing different amounts of red, green, and blue light. It is the most common color model used in digital displays and is widely supported in HTML and CSS.

In the RGB model, each color is described by three values representing the intensity of red, green, and blue components. These values range from 0 to 255, where 0 means no presence of the color and 255 means full intensity.

To represent a color using RGB values in HTML, you use the rgb() function. The syntax is as follows:

rgb(red, green, blue)

Example: Set Paragraph Text Color Using RGB

Example: Set Paragraph Text Color Using RGB

<p style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">This paragraph has a red color.</p>

The red component is set to 255 while the green and blue components are set to 0. This results in a pure red color.

Example: Set Background Color Using RGB

Example: Set Background Color Using RGB

<div style="background-color: rgb(0, 128, 255);">This div has a light blue background.</div>

The RGB values (0, 128, 255) represent a light blue color.

RGB colors offer many possibilities as you can mix different intensities of red, green, and blue to create various colors. By adjusting these values, you can achieve any desired color.

One advantage of using RGB colors is precision. You have fine-grained control over exact colors. Also, RGB colors are widely supported across devices and browsers.

However, one drawback of RGB colors is that it can be challenging to determine exact colors just by looking at their values. Unlike named colors, RGB values do not give an immediate idea about resulting shades.

Despite this challenge, RGB remains a powerful way of specifying HTML/CSS hues, allowing the creation of a wide spectrum with precise control over the appearance of web page elements.

Hex Colors

Hex colors, short for hexadecimal colors, are a way to represent colors in HTML and CSS. Hexadecimal color notation uses six characters, including numbers (0-9) and letters (A-F), to define a specific color.

In the hexadecimal color system, each color is represented by a six-digit code preceded by a hash symbol (#). The first two digits represent red intensity, the next two digits represent green intensity, and the last two digits represent blue intensity. The values range from 00 (lowest intensity) to FF (highest intensity).

Example: Hex color code


In this example, FF represents the highest red intensity, while 00 represents no green or blue. This results in pure red.

To use hex colors in HTML, you specify the hex code as the value of the appropriate CSS property.

Set text color using hex

Example: Text color using hex

<p style="color: #0000FF;">This paragraph has a blue color.</p>

In this example, the text color of the paragraph is set to blue using the hex code #0000FF.

You can also use hex colors to set an element's background:

Set background color using hex

Example: Background color using hex

<div style="background-color: #00FF00;">This div has a green background.</div>

Here, the background of the div is set to green using #00FF00.

Hex colors provide many options since there are over 16 million possible combinations. They are widely supported by browsers and commonly used in web development.

One advantage of using hex colors is that they are more concise compared to RGB values. They also allow for easy copying and pasting of codes.

However, like RGB values, it can be hard to visualize just by looking at them. You may need a color picker or chart for exact shades.

Despite this challenge, hex colors remain popular due to their versatility and compatibility with design tools and frameworks.

HSL Colors

HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) is a color model that represents colors by describing them in terms of their hue, saturation, and lightness components. It provides an easy way to define colors based on how humans see them.

In the HSL model:

  1. Hue refers to the base color or the position on the color wheel, represented as an angle between 0 and 360 degrees.

    • 0 degrees represents red
    • 120 degrees represents green
    • 240 degrees represents blue
  2. Saturation describes the intensity or purity of the color, specified as a percentage from 0% (grayscale) to 100% (fully saturated).

  3. Lightness defines the brightness of the color, also specified as a percentage from 0% (black) to 100% (white), with 50% being normal brightness.

To apply HSL colors in HTML, you use the hsl() function in CSS. The syntax is:

hsl(hue, saturation, lightness)

Example: Set Text Color Using HSL

<p style="color: hsl(240, 100%, 50%);">This paragraph has a vibrant blue color.</p>
  • Hue is set to 240 (blue)
  • Saturation is set to 100%
  • Lightness is set to 50%

Example: Set Background Color Using HSL

<div style="background-color: hsl(120,60%,70%)">This div has a light green background.</div>
  • Hue is set to 120 (green)
  • Saturation is set to 60%
  • Lightness is set to 70%

HSL colors provide an easy way compared to RGB or hex notations. By adjusting hue, saturation, and lightness values, you can create many colors and easily modify their appearance.

One advantage of using HSL is that it allows you to easily create color variations by changing the lightness or saturation while keeping the same hue. This is useful when creating color schemes or adjusting the brightness of a color.

However, HSL color notation may not be as widely supported in older browsers compared to RGB or hex colors. It is important to consider browser compatibility when using HSL colors in your HTML and CSS code.

Overall, HSL provides a flexible way to define colors in HTML, allowing you to create visually appealing and harmonious color schemes for your web pages.


RGBA and HSLA are extensions of the RGB and HSL color models that add an alpha channel for controlling the transparency of colors. The alpha channel allows you to specify the opacity of a color, making it possible to create transparent or semi-transparent effects in your HTML elements.

The syntax for RGBA colors is similar to RGB, with an additional alpha value:

Example: RGBA Syntax

rgba(red, green, blue, alpha)

The alpha value ranges from 0 to 1, where 0 represents complete transparency and 1 represents complete opacity.

Example: Set Text Color with RGBA

<p style="color: rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.5);">This paragraph has a semi-transparent red color.</p>

In this case, the red color is set to 50% opacity using an alpha value of 0.5.

Similarly, HSLA colors extend the HSL model by adding an alpha channel:

Example: HSLA Syntax

hsla(hue, saturation, lightness, alpha)

Example: Set Background Color with HSLA

<div style="background-color: hsla(240, 100%, 50%, 0.7);">This div has a semi-transparent blue background.</div>

Here, the blue background color is set to 70% opacity using an alpha value of 0.7.

Using RGBA and HSLA colors opens up various possibilities for creating transparent effects in your web designs. Some common use cases for transparent colors include:

  1. Overlays: You can create overlay effects by applying a semi-transparent background color to an element placed on top of another element or image.
  2. Hover effects: Transparent colors can be used to create subtle hover effects on buttons or links.
  3. Gradients: By using RGBA or HSLA colors with different alpha values, you can create smooth gradients with transparency.
  4. Text effects: Applying transparent colors to text can create interesting visual effects like a subtle glow or faded appearance.

When using RGBA and HSLA colors, consider readability and contrast of content so that transparency does not hinder legibility or usability.

Browser support for RGBA and HSLA is generally good in modern browsers, but older browsers may not support these models, so it's recommended to provide fallback solid RGB or hex values for better compatibility.

RGBA and HSLA provide ways to incorporate transparency into your HTML, allowing you to create visually appealing designs easily.

Color Pickers and Tools

When working with colors in HTML, you don't need to memorize all the color names, RGB values, or hex codes. There are various online color picker tools and browser developer tools that can help you select and identify colors quickly.

Online color picker tools are websites or applications that provide an interface for selecting colors. These tools often include a color wheel, sliders, or input fields where you can adjust the hue, saturation, and lightness or enter specific color values. Some popular online color picker tools include:

  1. Adobe Color: A tool that allows you to create color schemes based on different rules such as complementary, analogous, or triadic colors.
  2. ColorHexa: A user-friendly tool that provides information about colors including their RGB, hex, and HSL values.
  3. Coolors: A palette generator that helps you create cohesive schemes by generating random combinations or allowing manual adjustments.

Modern web browsers come with built-in developer tools that include color pickers. These allow you to select colors directly from a web page and obtain their corresponding values. To access the color picker in most browsers:

  1. Right-click on an element on the web page.
  2. Select "Inspect" or "Inspect Element" from the context menu.
  3. In the developer tools panel, locate the "Styles" or "CSS" tab.
  4. Find the property you want to inspect and click on the swatch or value.

Developer Tools Example

<p style="color:#ff0000;">This is a paragraph.</p>

The picker will appear allowing adjustment of the value.

Browser developer tools are handy when you want to quickly identify or match colors used on a web page.

There are also various palette generators available online that can help you create harmonious schemes for your projects by providing pre-designed palettes or allowing custom generation based on specific themes:

  1. Color Hunt: A collection of palettes submitted by users categorized by themes and popularity.
  2. Paletton: A scheme designer tool allowing creation based on different harmony rules with interactive adjustments.
  3. Adobe Color Trends: Trending palettes created by Adobe's community updated regularly to reflect current trends.

By using pickers, browser developer tools, and palette resources available online it becomes convenient to experiment with different combinations ensuring visually appealing schemes for your HTML elements without memorizing complex values.

Styling Elements with Colors

Colors play a key role in styling HTML elements and creating visually appealing web pages. With HTML and CSS, you can apply colors to various parts of an element, such as text, background, borders, and more. Let's see how to style different elements using colors.

Setting Text Color

To set the color of text within an HTML element, you can use the color property in CSS.

Example: Setting Text Color

<p style="color: #ff0000;">This paragraph has red text.</p>

In this example, the style attribute is used to apply an inline CSS style to the <p> element. The color property is set to #ff0000, which represents red in hexadecimal notation. You can also use other color formats like color names or RGB values.

Changing Background Color

To change the background color of an element, you can use the background-color property in CSS.

Example: Changing Background Color

<div style="background-color: rgb(0, 128, 255);">This div has a blue background.</div>

In this case, the background-color property is set to rgb(0, 128, 255), which represents a shade of blue using RGB values. The background color will fill the entire content area of the element.

Applying Colors to Borders

You can also apply colors to borders using CSS border properties.

Example: Applying Colors to Borders

<p style="border: 2px solid #00ff00;">This paragraph has a green border.</p>

In this example, the border property sets a 2-pixel solid border around the paragraph. The border color is set to #00ff00, which represents green in hexadecimal notation.

When applying colors to elements consider these best practices:

  1. Consistency: Use consistent schemes throughout your web page or site.
  2. Contrast: Choose colors that provide good contrast between text and background.
  3. Accessibility: Be mindful of users with visual impairments and select accessible colors.
  4. Branding: Align colors with your branding or design goals.
  5. User Experience: Use colors to guide attention and highlight actions.

CSS offers many ways to apply colors through external stylesheets or inline styles as shown earlier.

You can also apply colors by targeting other elements like links (on hover or active states), tables (<th> header cells), forms (<input> fields), lists (<ul>, <ol>, <li>), etc., using CSS selectors.

By properly using colors when styling HTML elements you can greatly improve your web pages' visual appeal and user experience.

Color Combinations and Schemes

Understanding color theory basics helps create harmonious and visually appealing color schemes in your HTML projects. Color theory studies how colors interact with each other and their psychological effects on viewers.

One of the main concepts in color theory is the color wheel, which organizes colors based on their relationships. The primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) form the basis of the color wheel, while secondary colors (green, orange, and purple) are created by mixing two primary colors. Tertiary colors are formed by mixing a primary color with an adjacent secondary color.

When choosing color schemes for your web pages, consider these commonly used combinations:

  • Complementary colors: Colors opposite each other on the wheel, such as blue and orange or red and green. They create high contrast.
  • Analogous colors: Colors next to each other on the wheel, such as blue, teal, and green. They create a harmonious look.
  • Triadic colors: Three evenly spaced on the wheel like red, yellow, and blue. They provide a balanced scheme.
  • Monochromatic colors: Different shades of the same hue. They create a unified appearance.

When selecting colors for your HTML elements:

  • Blue often represents trust.
  • Red can evoke passion.
  • Green is associated with growth.
  • Yellow symbolizes optimism.

Here are some examples of good color combinations you can use in your HTML projects:

Blue and Orange Complementary Scheme

Example: Blue and Orange Complementary Scheme

<div style="background-color: #0066cc; color: #ff9900;"> 
  <h1>Welcome to my website!</h1> 
  <p>This is an example of a complementary scheme using blue and orange.</p> 

Green and Brown Analogous Scheme

Example: Green and Brown Analogous Scheme

<div style="background-color: #8bc34a; color: #5d4037;"> 
  <h1>Nature's Harmony</h1> 
  <p>This is an example of an analogous scheme using shades of green and brown.</p> 

Red, Yellow, and Blue Triadic Scheme

Example: Red, Yellow, and Blue Triadic Scheme

<div style="background-color: #ff6b6b; color: #4d4dff;"> 
  <h1 style="color: #ffe66d;">Primary Colors in Action</h1> 
  <p>This is an example of a triadic scheme using red, yellow, and blue.</p> 

Remember to consider readability, accessibility, and overall aesthetic appeal when choosing combinations. Use complementary ones that create visually pleasing experiences for users.

Experimenting with different schemes can help you find perfect palettes for your HTML projects. Try out various ones to see how they work together.

Accessibility Considerations

When using colors in HTML, it's important to consider accessibility so your web pages are usable by all users, including those with visual impairments or color vision deficiencies. Here are some key accessibility considerations and best practices for using colors:

Sufficient Color Contrast

Adequate color contrast between text and its background is essential for readability. Low contrast can make it hard for users to read the content, especially those with low vision. To have sufficient contrast:

  • Use a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text (18 point or larger).
  • Test your color combinations using tools like WebAIM's Color Contrast Checker.
  • Avoid using colors with similar luminance for text and background, such as light gray text on a white background.

Sufficient Contrast Example

<p style="color: #333333; background-color: #ffffff;">This text has sufficient contrast.</p>

Accommodating Color Vision Deficiencies

Color vision deficiencies affect many people. To accommodate these users:

  • Avoid relying solely on colors to convey information. Use additional visual cues like patterns, textures, or labels.
  • Use color palettes that are accessible to people with color vision deficiencies. Tools like Adobe Color's accessibility tools can help create accessible palettes.
  • Provide alternative ways to access information, such as tooltips or text alternatives for color-coded elements.

Color Vision Deficiency Example

<button style="background-color: #ff0000; color: #ffffff;">
  Delete <span>(Red Button)</span>

Best Practices for Accessible Color Usage

Here are some general best practices when using colors:

  1. Use colors with enough contrast between text and background.
  2. Don't rely only on color; use other visual cues like labels or icons.
  3. Include alternative text for images and other non-text elements that use color.
  4. Allow user customization by providing options to adjust the color scheme or switch to high-contrast mode.
  5. Test with different simulators like Color Oracle or Chrome's DevTools.

By following these considerations and best practices you can create HTML pages that are usable and inclusive regardless of users' visual abilities.

Remember that accessibility is not just about compliance but also about providing a better user experience for everyone by designing inclusively from the start so your web pages will be both visually appealing and accessible to more people.