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Enabling colors

In current versions (newer than 11.05.2009) of ConTeXt mkiv, colors are enabled by default.

In older versions, colors must be enabled using


Defining Colors

Choosing a color model

  • RGB and CMYK are enabled by default. If you want only RGB or only CMYK color, use cmyk=no or rgb=no. Multitone colors see below.
  • For spot colors, say spot=yes. To eliminate everything except spot colours, leaving a clean file for professional printing, accompany this with rgb=no,cmyk=no. See spot colours below for more details.
  • Normally all colors are defined in RGB and CMYK and get converted if needed.


You can generate an alternative definition set based on the results of the xkcd color survey with the xcs-colors.lua script.

Defining colors: \definecolor

\definecolor[blablue][r=.1, g=.1, b=1, c=1, m=.1, y=0, k=0, s=.2] (definition for RGB, CMYK and Grey!). See also Command/definecolor.

\definecolor[blablue][r=.25, g=.1, b=1, c=1, m=.1, y=0, k=0, s=.2]

Here's some \color[blablue]{blue text} inbetween!

Colors with Hexadecimal Numbers

You can also use hexadecimal numers to specify colors. You need to load the hex color module first:


Hey, \color[salmon]{look at that!}

Choosing a color scheme

There are three basic strategies to select color combinations for a particular design

  1. Create a color scheme by picking several colors found within the objects to be used (photographs, pictures, etc)
  2. Create colors derived from those found in the objects to be used
  3. Create a color scheme based on the message to convey / the psychological effects of color

See for additional help & reference:

  • - Useful site to help choose a color scheme in rgb color space
  • Tina Sutton, Bride M Whelan: The Complete Color Harmony. Rockport Publishers (2004). ISBN 978-1592530311 (recommanded in the mailing list)

Using Colors

  • Use the color name like [color=blablue] in some \setup... command.

With text

Typeset single text elements with \color[colorname]{nice blue text}:

Three \color[red]{cool} cats

Alternatively, typeset text elements with \colored[rgb values]{colored text} (suggested on NTG-ConTeXt: [1]):

Three \colored[r=.4, g=.4, b=.9]{colorful} kittens.

Typeset longer sections with \startcolor[colorname] ... \stopcolor:

\input tufte

In titles

See Titles#Using_colors_in_chapters_and_sections

With frames

\framed[background=color, backgroundcolor=green]{bla}
\framed[background=color, backgroundcolor=yellow, corner=00]{bla}

Background of the page



Background of cells in tables


In Metapost

Metapost in MkIV is different from MkII and all labels are typeset and colored in TeX, if you want a label use

 label(textext("\blue RED"),origin) ;

In TikZ

\tikz\shade[ball color=red!40!yellow] (0,0) circle (.15cm);