What are hex color codes?

Color codes matter

If you’ve edited an email newsletter theme, you’ve likely already come across hex color codes:

Hex Color Codes

While the easy way to select a color is to simply click on the little colored square to bring up a whole palette of options, sometimes, you need to be more specific.

That’s where hex color codes come in. That’s the six character code you see like #C6E1F0 and #FFFFFF.

The Hexadecimal Color Code, often referred to simply as a hex code, is an easy way to specify colors on the web. It looks complicated, but you won’t ever need to memorize the values. While a color picker tool will give you the color codes you need, it’s helpful to understand what those numbers and letters all mean.

RGB and hex color codes

Your screen shows only three colors: red, green and blue. These three colors (often shorted to the moniker ‘RGB’) combine to create all the other colors you normally see. The hex color code is simply a way to define the amounts of red, green and blue that make up the colors and hues you want.

Hexadecimal actually means 16. When assigning values, counting begins at 0 and goes up to 9 before switching to A through F for the numbers 10 through 15. A is 10, B is 11, C is 12 and so on. That’s a total of 16 values (0 to 15) and that’s also why you’ll see letters in the mix.

Let’s look at a purple shade with the hex code of #61399D. Each of the RGB colors is represented by 2 characters: red is 61, green is 39 and blue is 9D. The D actually represents the number 13. If we look at it by red, green and blue, we’ll see that there’s a medium amount of red, a bit of green and a lot of blue and if we were to mix that up with real paint on an artist’s palette, we’d get our purple!

The color code for red is #FF0000 and breaking it down we see that red is cranked up all the way to FF while green and blue are at 00 each. So all we see is red. See? Pretty simple really. Even though you now could build your own hues from scratch, I still recommend a color picker. It’s easier.

Need a color picker?

Here’s how to use a color picker to find your hex color codes for both a PC and a Mac.


Also published on Medium.

Image by: Javcon117* via Compfight cc

Emma Wilhelm
Emma Wilhelm loves punchy words and uphill battles. She’s a proud member of the GoDaddy GoCentral team. When she’s offline, she relishes long runs, baked goods and dance parties with her kids. Follow her on Twitter at @emmasota.