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Understanding hexadecimal notation

From: CSS: Core Concepts

Video: Understanding hexadecimal notation

The most common method of defining colors through CSS is hexadecimal notation. Hexadecimal notation looks just like this, and it can be a little intimidating the first time you see it. Once you get past the odd syntax however, you'll find that it's really easy to use. Hexadecimal notation is really nothing more than number character pairs that range from 0 to F, that are then used to represent RGB values. Take a look at this table. The first pair of characters is used to find the red value, the second is used to find the green value, and the third is used to find the blue value.

Understanding hexadecimal notation

The most common method of defining colors through CSS is hexadecimal notation. Hexadecimal notation looks just like this, and it can be a little intimidating the first time you see it. Once you get past the odd syntax however, you'll find that it's really easy to use. Hexadecimal notation is really nothing more than number character pairs that range from 0 to F, that are then used to represent RGB values. Take a look at this table. The first pair of characters is used to find the red value, the second is used to find the green value, and the third is used to find the blue value.

Now that we know how hexadecimal notation works, let's take a closer look at its syntax. So I've opened up the hexadecimal.htm file which you can find in the 06_02 directory. If I scroll down, I notice that we just have a headline and a paragraph below that. I'm going to be using the paragraph to practice with Hexadecimal notation and we're going to be setting colors for both the background and the foreground. Now currently, the background of the paragraph is black, and the color is white. If we want to replace that with hexadecimal notation, it's actually pretty easy to figure out exactly which values we need to use here.

So remember that the values go from 0 all the way to F. 0123456789, ABCDEF. 0 obliviously would mean 0, F means 255. So since the way RGB works, 255, 255, 255 is white, and 000 is black. To do black, I would just type-in #000000. So I'm using all six there for 0s and then for white, I would just do the opposite, #ffffff.

Now occasionally, you're going to see hexadecimal notation and we're using capital letters or lowercase letters, really browsers and user agents don't care which one you use. So it's really sort of a personal choice. So I'm going to save this and preview this in a browser, and as I do that, I can see the hexadecimal notation that's represented. Well colors like black and white are fairly simple, but what if you want to do something like a maroon color or a blue or a purple or something like that? That's not quite as simple, and more often than not, you're going to have to use a tool to help you figure out what the hexadecimal value is.

Now, more than likely, you have a desktop tool that can help you with this. Programs like Photoshop, programs like Illustrator, most HTML editors that have color pickers will also give you the hexadecimal notation once you've mixed the color together. If you don't have any of those handy, you can visit this really neat online tool by Adobe called Kuler and you can find this at kuler.adobe.com. This tool helps you mix color palettes together, save color palettes, and determine what the syntax would be for various color notations. So let's just say I want to mix a color together.

You can choose from any one of the recent color palettes that people have worked with, or you can create your own. But what you're really looking for is this little setting right down here which allows you to make a change to a theme or view the color values and when you do that, you're presented with a whole new set of tools. Now here you can choose any one of these colors as a starting point, and then you can just start moving the values around in the color mixer, you can move around the Hue, you can move the saturation and brightness and you can even move these sliders down here. You want to make some finer tweaking here, and when you do that, you're presented with a hexadecimal value as well as the HSV, RGB, CMYK, and LAB values for these colors.

So this is really cool. So I'm just going to grab the HEX value from here. I'm going to copy this. I'm going to paste it into the background of my paragraph. Don't forget the (#) that's one of the things about hexadecimal notation. The (#) is part of the syntax and you'll notice there is no space between the (#) and the rest of the HEX decimal notation. I can come in and grab another color for the foreground, so maybe something a little bit brighter. Again, I can move this color around until I get what I'm looking for. I can grab this color, copy it, and paste it into my code.

So this is an extremely handy tool, and as I save this and preview it, we can see the change that I've made to the color. Excellent. Very handy tool, but more than likely you probably already have something on your desktop you can use, it's totally up to you, it's just another option out there. Now, there are some slight variations to the hexadecimal notation syntax. If you have matching number pairs and here's what I mean by that, let's say for background we had something like (#336633) which is going to be a darker gray and for foreground, maybe we had something like (#ffaacc).

Now, if I save this and preview this in the browser, you can see that we have sort of a pink and a green together there. All right. Well, anytime you have matching pairs like this, you can just shorten that to three characters. So I can go here (#363) and that represents (#336633). Here, I can shorten this to fac which is short for (#ffaacc). If I save this and preview it, I get exactly the same color representation.

So anytime you have those matching pairs, you can go ahead and do that shorthand notation. Now, all three have to be matching. If I had (#ffaacd) I would not be able to use shorthand notation for this because cd does not match. Now, speaking of shorthand notation, I'm just going to go ahead and end this with a background of 600 and for color, I'm going to come in and use (#fff) which again is shorthand for white, so (#000) would be black, fff would be white, (#600) is going to give me a nice maroon color.

So if I save this and preview it, I get exactly what I'm expecting. HEX values are relatively easy to use, especially if you're using the shorthand notation, but they are not easy to memorize, especially if we're using values that depart from the sort of matching pair web 216 that most people are used to using. So you'll usually need to use a tool like Kuler to find HEX value you're looking for unless your HTML Editor has a built-in color palette of its own. Now, as you may have noticed in the labs that I've worked with, I'm really fond of putting a color palette for the site at the very top of my Styles, makes it a lot easier for to remember the values, and it's a practice that I recommend you adopt as well.

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This video is part of

Image for CSS: Core Concepts
CSS: Core Concepts

81 video lessons · 39934 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 4m 57s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      4m 2s
  2. 1h 7m
    1. Exploring default styling
      4m 56s
    2. CSS authoring tools
      2m 29s
    3. CSS syntax
      4m 45s
    4. Writing a selector
      4m 10s
    5. Setting properties
      8m 40s
    6. Common units of measurement
      7m 47s
    7. Inline styles
      5m 1s
    8. Embedded styles
      5m 19s
    9. Using external style sheets
      10m 34s
    10. Checking for browser support
      8m 48s
    11. Dealing with browser inconsistencies
      5m 30s
  3. 2h 15m
    1. Structuring HTML correctly
      2m 51s
    2. Element selectors
      4m 52s
    3. Class selectors
      6m 4s
    4. ID selectors
      3m 27s
    5. Using classes and IDs
      10m 7s
    6. Element-specific selectors
      4m 35s
    7. The universal selector
      5m 42s
    8. Grouping selectors
      4m 49s
    9. Descendent selectors
      7m 32s
    10. Child selectors
      5m 7s
    11. Adjacent selectors
      5m 30s
    12. Attribute selectors
      12m 43s
    13. Pseudo-class selectors
      3m 54s
    14. Dynamic pseudo-class selectors
      8m 29s
    15. Structural pseudo-class selectors
      6m 45s
    16. Nth-child selectors
      13m 10s
    17. Pseudo-element selectors
      12m 40s
    18. Targeting page content: Lab
      8m 56s
    19. Targeting page content: Solution
      7m 59s
  4. 42m 39s
    1. What happens when styles conflict?
      4m 0s
    2. Understanding the cascade
      5m 47s
    3. Using inheritance
      6m 11s
    4. Selector specificity
      6m 55s
    5. The !important declaration
      4m 5s
    6. Reducing conflicts through planning
      3m 33s
    7. Resolving conflicts: Lab
      6m 45s
    8. Resolving conflicts: Solution
      5m 23s
  5. 1h 47m
    1. Setting a font family
      7m 10s
    2. Using @font-face
      9m 18s
    3. Setting font size
      7m 35s
    4. Font style and font weight
      6m 52s
    5. Transforming text
      3m 58s
    6. Using text variants
      2m 49s
    7. Text decoration options
      4m 26s
    8. Setting text color
      3m 2s
    9. Writing font shorthand notation
      8m 49s
    10. Controlling text alignment
      6m 33s
    11. Letter and word spacing
      9m 11s
    12. Indenting text
      4m 30s
    13. Adjusting paragraph line height
      10m 30s
    14. Controlling the space between elements
      6m 41s
    15. Basic text formatting: Lab
      8m 45s
    16. Basic text formatting: Solution
      7m 14s
  6. 2h 1m
    1. Understanding the box model
      16m 53s
    2. Controlling element spacing
      14m 29s
    3. Controlling interior spacing
      10m 49s
    4. Margin and padding shorthand notation
      6m 27s
    5. Adding borders
      8m 57s
    6. Defining element size
      10m 7s
    7. Creating rounded corners
      6m 58s
    8. Background properties
      2m 51s
    9. Using background images
      5m 10s
    10. Controlling image positioning
      10m 25s
    11. Using multiple backgrounds
      7m 5s
    12. Background shorthand notation
      5m 25s
    13. Styling container elements: Lab
      7m 55s
    14. Styling container elements: Solution
      8m 17s
  7. 47m 51s
    1. Color keyword definitions
      5m 4s
    2. Understanding hexadecimal notation
      6m 5s
    3. Using RGB values
      4m 58s
    4. Using HSL values
      5m 17s
    5. Working with opacity
      2m 23s
    6. Using RGBa and HSLa
      3m 8s
    7. Styling drop shadows
      5m 38s
    8. CSS gradients
      6m 32s
    9. Working with color: Lab
      4m 26s
    10. Working with color: Solution
      4m 20s
  8. 1m 58s
    1. Additional resources
      1m 58s

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