How to Set Text and Background Color with CSS

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In Brief...

The color and background-color properties determine how color is set in CSS.

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Instructions

Before you can learn how to set text and background colors in CSS, you need to know a little bit about color values.

Color values can be specified in several ways:

  • Color Names: There are 17 basic keyword color names that are specified in CSS3. Modern browsers support many additional color names.
    <div style="color: red;">color: red;</div>
  • Hexadecimal Color Values: Hexadecimal color values take the format #rrggbb, where rr is the amount of red in the color, gg is the amount of green in the color, and bb is the amount of blue in the color.
    <div style="color: #ff0000;">color: #ff0000;</div>
  • Short Hexadecimal Color Values: Hexadecimal color values can be abbreviated when a color is represented by three pairs of hexadecimal characters. For example, with #ff6600, you can remove one character from each pair. The shorthand color values take the format #rgb, where r is the amount of red, g is the amount of green in the color, and b is the amount of blue. For example, #f60 is the same as #ff6600.
    selector {
    	color: #f60;
  • Functional Notation: Functional notation takes the format rgb(n,n,n), where n is a number between 0 and 255 or a percentage between 0% and 100% for the red, green, and blue intensities of the color, respectively.
    <div style="color: rgb(255,0,0);">color: rgb(255,0,0);</div>
    	<div style="color: rgb(100%,0%,0%);">color: rgb(100%,0%,0%);</div>
  • RGBA-Format Color Names: The additional (the "a") parameter specifying the opacity (the "alpha" channel) of the color as a decimal between 0.0 (completely transparent) and 1.0 (completely opaque). Thus, the code
    <div style="background-color:
    	rgba(255,0,0,0.5)">
    	color: rgba(255,0,0,0.5)
    	</div>
    would style the div with a red background with 50% transparency.
  • HSL Specification: Supported in modern browsers (Internet Explorer from version 9), HSL is used to specify hue (a degree on the color wheel, with 0=red, 120=green, and 240=blue), saturation (a percentage, with 0% a shade of gray and 100% the full color), and lightness (a percentage, with 0% as black and 100% as white). The following code displays a div with red background:
    <div style="background-color: hsl(0,100%, 50%)"></div>

Our recommendation is to use three-character hexadecimal notation (i.e., #rgb) when you can get the color you want and to use the six-digit hexadecimal notation (i.e., #rrggbb) when you need to define the color more granularly.

Now let's learn how to use these properties in the following steps:

  1. As you have seen in the examples above, the color property is used to set the foreground color of an element. Use the property as shown in this code:
    <!DOCTYPE HTML>
    <html>
    <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <title>Color</title>
    </head>
    <body>
    
    <h1>Color</h1>
    
    <div style="color: red;">color: red;</div>
    <div style="color: #ff0000;">color: #ff0000;</div>
    <div style="color: #f00;">color: #f00;</div>
    <div style="color: rgb(255,0,0);">color: rgb(255,0,0);</div>
    <div style="color: rgb(100%,0%,0%);">color: rgb(100%,0%,0%);</div>
    <div style="color: hsl(0,100%, 50%);">color: hsl(0,100%, 50%);</div>
    
    </body>
    </html>
    This code renders the following:
    Color
  2. Next, you use the background-color property to specify the background color of an element. It can be applied to block elements and inline elements. The syntax looks like this:
    selector {
    background-color: color;}
    Used in HTML, it looks like this:
    <!DOCTYPE HTML>
    <html>
    <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <title>Background Color</title>
    </head>
    <body>
    <h1>Background Color</h1>
    
    <div style="height: 100px; width: 500px; background-color: #ff0000;">
    	background-color: #ff0000;
    </div>
    
    <div style="height: 100px; width: 500px; background-color: rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.5);">
    	background-color: rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.5);
    </div>
    
    <div style="height: 100px; width: 500px; background-color: rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.1);">
    	background-color: rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.1);
    </div>
    
    </body>
    </html>
    This code renders the following:
    Background Color

Author: Chris Minnick

Chris is a prolific author and trainer, and the CEO of WatzThis?. His published books include Writing Computer Code, JavaScript for Kids, Coding with JavaScript For Dummies, Beginning HTML5 and CSS3 For Dummies, Webkit For Dummies, CIW eCommerce Certification Bible, and New Riders' XHTML.

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