Hex Color Values: What are they and when do you need them?

We’ve talked about different types of color modes before (i.e. CMYK vs RGB), and today I want to talk about a third type- hexadecimal values. You may have seen these around before- it's the color value that starts with a # followed by a combination of 6 letters and numbers. For example, the color white is #FFFFFF and black is #000000. Hex values are incredibly useful for a number of digital uses, so read on for some basic info about what they are and why and how you should use them.

The Basics

🔴 Hex values are essentially shorthand for RGB color values
🟢 They are used in a wide variety of digital applications such as Canva, website builders, Microsoft Office documents, email newsletter services, and more.
🔵 Hex values aren’t case-sensitive- you may see them listed in either upper or lower case letters
🟡 If only 3 digits are listed (i.e. #FFF) that’s just another shorthand- just double each letter/digit- so #FFF is the same as #FFFFFF
🟠 Curious what a specific color is on your website? You can dig into it using the “Inspect” tool (right-click and select inspect), or for the less tech-savvy, there are lots of browser extensions that will do this.

How do I find my hex values?

You may have received your color palette with hex values already listed (I do this by default for all my clients). If you've checked your brand guidelines and you only have your colors as RGB or CMYK, no worries- you can easily convert them with several online conversion tools (try this one, or this one), or in Illustrator or Photoshop.

The color Panel in Illustrator actually shows the hex value and the RGB values on the same screen by default.

Once you get your hex values, keep them handy, as you'll be copying and pasting them all the live long day. I keep mine (and many of my clients' palettes) in a bookmarked Google Doc.

Missing color palette?

And, if all this talk about hex values is reminding you that you don’t have a full color palette yet, let’s talk- I can help you find the perfect colors through one of my “pick my brain” consulting sessions.

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