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The Totally Old-School Web-Safe Color Palette

What is this page all about? An explanation is below the color chart.

Non-Dithering Colors
000000
R0 G0 B0
000033
R0 G0 B51
000066
R0 G0 B102
000099
R0 G0 B153
0000cc
R0 G0 B204
0000ff
R0 G0 B255
003300
R0 G51 B0
003333
R0 G51 B51
003366
R0 G51 B102
003399
R0 G51 B153
0033cc
R0 G51 B204
0033ff
R0 G51 B255
006600
R0 G102 B0
006633
R0 G102 B51
006666
R0 G102 B102
006699
R0 G102 B153
0066cc
R0 G102 B204
0066ff
R0 G102 B255
009900
R0 G153 B0
009933
R0 G153 B51
009966
R0 G153 B102
009999
R0 G153 B153
0099cc
R0 G153 B204
0099ff
R0 G153 B255
00cc00
R0 G204 B0
00cc33
R0 G204 B51
00cc66
R0 G204 B102
00cc99
R0 G204 B153
00cccc
R0 G204 B204
00ccff
R0 G204 B255
00ff00
R0 G255 B0
00ff33
R0 G255 B51
00ff66
R0 G255 B102
00ff99
R0 G255 B153
00ffcc
R0 G255 B204
00ffff
R0 G255 B255
33ff00
R51 G255 B0
33ff33
R51 G255 B51
33ff66
R51 G255 B102
33ff99
R51 G255 B153
33ffcc
R51 G255 B204
33ffff
R51 G255 B255
33cc00
R51 G204 B0
33cc33
R51 G204 B51
33cc66
R51 G204 B102
33cc99
R51 G204 B153
33cccc
R51 G204 B204
33ccff
R51 G204 B255
339900
R51 G153 B0
339933
R51 G153 B51
339966
R51 G153 B102
339999
R51 G153 B153
3399cc
R51 G153 B204
3399ff
R51 G153 B255
336600
R51 G102 B0
336633
R51 G102 B51
336666
R51 G102 B102
336699
R51 G102 B153
3366cc
R51 G102 B204
3366ff
R51 G102 B255
333300
R51 G51 B0
333333
R51 G51 B51
333366
R51 G51 B102
333399
R51 G51 B153
3333cc
R51 G51 B204
3333ff
R51 G51 B255
330000
R51 G0 B0
330033
R51 G0 B51
330066
R51 G0 B102
330099
R51 G0 B153
3300cc
R51 G0 B204
3300ff
R51 G0 B255
660000
R102 G0 B0
660033
R102 G0 B51
660066
R102 G0 B102
660099
R102 G0 B153
6600cc
R102 G0 B204
6600ff
R102 G0 B255
663300
R102 G51 B0
663333
R102 G51 B51
663366
R102 G51 B102
663399
R102 G51 B153
6633cc
R102 G51 B204
6633ff
R102 G51 B255
666600
R102 G102 B0
666633
R102 G102 B51
666666
R102 G102 B102
666699
R102 G102 B153
6666cc
R102 G102 B204
6666ff
R102 G102 B255
669900
R102 G153 B0
669933
R102 G153 B51
669966
R102 G153 B102
669999
R102 G153 B153
6699cc
R102 G153 B204
6699ff
R102 G153 B255
66cc00
R102 G204 B0
66cc33
R102 G204 B51
66cc66
R102 G204 B102
66cc99
R102 G204 B153
66cccc
R102 G204 B204
66ccff
R102 G204 B255
66ff00
R102 G255 B0
66ff33
R102 G255 B51
66ff66
R102 G255 B102
66ff99
R102 G255 B153
66ffcc
R102 G255 B204
66ffff
R102 G255 B255
99ff00
R153 G255 B0
99ff33
R153 G255 B51
99ff66
R153 G255 B102
99ff99
R153 G255 B153
99ffcc
R153 G255 B204
99ffff
R153 G255 B255
99cc00
R153 G204 B0
99cc33
R153 G204 B51
99cc66
R153 G204 B102
99cc99
R153 G204 B153
99cccc
R153 G204 B204
99ccff
R153 G204 B255
999900
R153 G153 B0
999933
R153 G153 B51
999966
R153 G153 B102
999999
R153 G153 B153
9999cc
R153 G153 B204
9999ff
R153 G153 B255
996600
R153 G102 B0
996633
R153 G102 B51
996666
R153 G102 B102
996699
R153 G102 B153
9966cc
R153 G102 B204
9966ff
R153 G102 B255
993300
R153 G51 B0
993333
R153 G51 B51
993366
R153 G51 B102
993399
R153 G51 B153
9933cc
R153 G51 B204
9933ff
R153 G51 B255
990000
R153 G0 B0
990033
R153 G0 B51
990066
R153 G0 B102
990099
R153 G0 B153
9900cc
R153 G0 B204
9900ff
R153 G0 B255
cc0000
R204 G0 B0
cc0033
R204 G0 B51
cc0066
R204 G0 B102
cc0099
R204 G0 B153
cc00cc
R204 G0 B204
cc00ff
R204 G0 B255
cc3300
R204 G51 B0
cc3333
R204 G51 B51
cc3366
R204 G51 B102
cc3399
R204 G51 B153
cc33cc
R204 G51 B204
cc33ff
R204 G51 B255
cc6600
R204 G102 B0
cc6633
R204 G102 B51
cc6666
R204 G102 B102
cc6699
R204 G102 B153
cc66cc
R204 G102 B
204
cc66ff
R204 G102 B
255
cc9900
R204 G153 B0
cc9933
R204 G153 B51
cc9966
R204 G153 B102
cc9999
R204 G153 B153
cc99cc
R204 G153 B204
cc99ff
R204 G153 B255
cccc00
R204 G204 B0
cccc33
R204 G204 B51
cccc66
R204 G204 B102
cccc99
R204 G204 B153
cccccc
R204 G204 B204
ccccff
R204 G204 B255
ccff00
R204 G255 B0
ccff33
R204 G255 B51
ccff66
R204 G255 B102
ccff99
R204 G255 B153
ccffcc
R204 G255 B204
ccffff
R204 G255 B255
ffff00
R255 G255 B0
ffff33
R255 G255 B51
ffff66
R255 G255 B102
ffff99
R255 G255 B153
ffffcc
R255 G255 B204
ffffff
R255 G255 B255
ffcc00
R255 G204 B0
ffcc33
R255 G204 B51
ffcc66
R255 G204 B102
ffcc99
R255 G204 B153
ffcccc
R255 G204 B204
ffccff
R255 G204 B255
ff9900
R255 G153 B0
ff9933
R255 G153 B51
ff9966
R255 G153 B102
ff9999
R255 G153 B153
ff99cc
R255 G153 B204
ff99ff
R255 G153 B255
ff6600
R255 G102 B0
ff6633
R255 G102 B51
ff6666
R255 G102 B102
ff6699
R255 G102 B153
ff66cc
R255 G102 B204
ff66ff
R255 G102 B255
ff3300
R255 G51 B0
ff3333
R255 G51 B51
ff3366
R255 G51 B102
ff3399
R255 G51 B153
ff33cc
R255 G51 B204
ff33ff
R255 G51 B255
ff0000
R255 G0 B0
ff0033
R255 G0 B51
ff0066
R255 G0 B102
ff0099
R255 G0 B153
ff00cc
R255 G0 B204
ff00ff
R255 G0 B255

What does this table mean? If you're a graphic artist or an HTML veteran, it will be obvious. It's basically obsolete, but if you'd like a more detail, see below.

Understanding Web Color

All colors on your computer are created by mixing some combination of red, green, and blue. The color displayed by each pixel is determined by the amounts of each color included in that mixture. Mix all of them at full intensity, and you get white; turn them all off, and you get a completely black pixel. The phrase "color depth" is used to describe the precision with which colors are expressed. HTML allows for the use of 24-bit color, which means that each color of that "RGB triplet" is allocated 8 bits of binary storage. That means that there are 256 possible values for the amount of red in each color, 256 values for the amount of green, and 256 for blue. Each value can range from 0 to 255. When combined, that results in a total of 16,777,216 unique colors.

If you've worked with programs like Photoshop, you've probably seen these values in the color picker. Choose black, and you'll see that it is a mixture of zero parts red, zero parts green, and zero parts blue. Choose white, and you'll see that it is a mixture of the maximum values of those three colors: Red 255, Green 255, and Blue 255. A pure blue pixel would have the maximum blue, and no red or green: Red 0, Green 0, and Blue 255. If we wanted to, we could write that color of blue as R0 G0 B255. However, computers often use a different number system (hexadecimal) to express large numbers. Compared to decimal (base 10) numbering, hexadecimal (Base 16) can store larger numbers in less space. Numbers 1 through 9 are the same in decimal and hexadecimal; but 10 through 15 are written as A, B, C, D, E, and F. Sixteen is written as 10. Thirty-one would be written as 1F in hexadecimal. If you find that a little confusing, never mind... all you really need to understand is that when you see a color specified as "ccff66," you are looking at a hexadecimal number. That number is an RGB triplet. The first two digits (cc) are the amount of red, the second two (ff) are the amount of green, and the third two (66) are the amount of blue. Written in decimal, "ccff66" would be 204 parts of red, 255 parts of green, and 102 parts of blue.

Many computers cannot display full 24-bit color. Many older systems are capable of only 8-bit color. Eight-bit color allows for a total of 256 colors. What happens when you need a color that isn't in that set of 256 colors? Usually, the program will simulate the color by "dithering." Dithering is the process of mixing different-colored pixels together to give the appearance of another color. Imagine for a moment that we needed to show an orange square, but our program didn't have orange in its color palette. We could make several little squares of red and yellow, mingle them together, and presto... we would have orange. However, our dithered orange would look a little grainy compared to a real, genuine orange square. Dithering often produces results that are less than spectacular: text can become almost unreadable, and photos and graphics can lack detail and sharpness. For that reason, may web designers want to use a color palette that will never need to be dithered. The problem, however, is that not all platforms use the same color palette. There are only 216 colors in common between the Windows and Macintosh versions of the 8-bit color set. These 216 colors are often referred to as the "browser-safe palette" or the "non-dithering palette." In this palette, there are six possible values for the intensity of each component of the RGB triplet: 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100%. Six possible values for each color gives us 6x6x6 possible unique colors... that is, 216. Written in decimal, the possible values for each color are 0, 51, 102, 204, and 255. Written in hexadecimal, the possible values are 00, 33, 66, 99, cc, and ff.

For a more detailed explanation of the way color works, you might want to look at Bob Schmitt's Web Color Primer in the November 1997 issue of Webreview.com. Webreview is an excellent source for HTML authoring information.