Vicky Vickers

The Hexadecimal System
Now we start getting complicated. With HTML, there is no such thing as simply stating that you would like to have your background green and your text red. The colour system which is used is called hexadecimal and consists of a six-character letter-number (alpha-numeric) combination, such as "66CC99" which produces a sort of light medium green. The first pair of characters determine the amount of red in the colour, the second pair - green and the third pair - blue. So if you write it as "FF0000" you will get a bright red colour, "00FF00" is bright green, "0000FF" is bright blue, "000000" is black and "FFFFFF" is white. As you can use any number from 0-9 and any letter from A-F in each pair, you have the potential of creating millions of different colours, eg. "33CCFF" produces a quite pretty shade of light medium blue. Using the paired combinations 00, 33, 66, 99, CC, and FF will avoid nasty dithering (as most browser's only use a palette of about 216 colors). Note: Window's computers display colors 20% darker than Macintoshs.

Colour Tags
While it may be difficult figuring out the hexadecimal combination for the colour you desire, the tags to put it into your pages are easy to produce. There are five tags for producing colour which go inside the <BODY> tag at the top of your page.:

BGCOLOR (Background)
TEXT (Text)
LINK (Unfollowed link)
VLINK (Followed link)
ALINK (Active link)

NOTE: as the active link colour is only seen for a split second when you click on a link, I don't bother to specify a colour for it, the default colour is red.

If you wanted to have a light medium blue background with dark blue text, a pink unfollowed link and a purple followed link, you would write the following tag:

<BODY BGCOLOR="#33CCFF" TEXT="#000099" LINK="#FF0099" VLINK="#9900FF">

HTML uses American spelling. Therefore, when using a colour command in webpage creation, you have to spell it "COLOR". If you put in the "U" then it won't work. Paul Evád has a color palette file that is Netscape safe done up in FreeHand, which you can download from his website at

This article was published in the June 1996 issue of the Victoria Macintosh Users Group's monthly newsletter "MACtalk" in Vicky's monthly article "VMUG On-Line" and in the Fall 1996 issue of the Web Enthusiasts Association of Victoria's quarterly on-line newsletter.

Vicky Vickers is the owner of Word Crunchers, Etc. which specializes in website design and HTML training. She is a past-president (1994-6) and former webmaster (1995-8) of Victoria Macintosh Users Group (VMUG). She also founded and was the first president (1996) of the Web Enthusiasts Association of Victoria (WEAV).

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