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Colour is a powerful way for us to communicate with our audiences.

We use colour carefully to create visual harmony across all our communications.

Primary colour palette

The core colours should be the most prominent. Add the secondary colours sparingly (less than 30% of the design area) to provide extra life and impact.

For example, they can be used to emphasise a section of text. This is a useful option when no appropriate image or graphic is available.

Primary colour palette

Secondary colour palette

Our secondary colour palette is used to inject energy and vibrancy into our applications and asset suite.

Only use each one individually when applied as a background colour. Do not overlay one onto another.

Secondary colour palette

Be accurate

Colours must be produced accurately across all communications.

Always match the breakdown references for the primary and secondary colours above.

RGB values are for presentations, websites, video and other screen-based applications.

Always set up final artwork destined for print using CMYK, never RGB. Give the Pantone® references to the printers for matching purposes.

Colour contrast

Creating contrast between type and background colour is crucial. Always use a dark type colour on light backgrounds, and white type on dark backgrounds.

Colour contrast examples one good and one bad 

Avoid using teal and turquoise together as people with colour blindness can find it hard to tell the difference. Similar or jarring colours should also be avoided: so, no cherry on brick, turquoise on brick or vice versa.

Colour combinations

There are seven pre-defined colour combinations to choose from when applying a solid background colour.

Seven examples of colour combinsations  

Each one of these has been specifically created to ensure vibrancy, standout and differentiation.

Lime and white together can be applied on top of all remaining primary and secondary colours.

Colour tints

In print, only use colour tints in charts, graphs, tabbing systems, signposting or pull out boxes. They should never be used at less than 12%.

Primary colours

Primary colours and their tints 

Avoid excessive use of tints.

There is slightly more leeway online where tints are often used to aid navigation. However, try to keep colours as strong as you can.

Secondary colours

Secondary colours and their tints

Using colour on graphs

To achieve a consistent look and feel in our charts and graphs, use a range of colours, always starting with our primary colours. Only use the secondary colours if more are required.

 An example of charts using primary colours and their tints

You can use specified tints of any of the primary and secondary colour palettes to expand the range or if there are budget restraints.

Be careful to maintain the same high level of contrast when using a two-colour process.

An example of bar and line charts using tints

For guidance on adding charts into your communications - see figures, charts and diagams

Using colour on tables

The examples shown below demonstrate the table variations that are possible while still adhering to the following rules:

  • Divide rows using tinted steel panels or steel lines.
  • Top and bottom rows can be highlighted with coloured type or coloured panels (in violet and steel).
  • Use steel for text on white and tinted steel panels.
  • Use white text on steel and violet panels.
  • You can use white if you need to use vertical lines to separate columns.
  • You can use violet to highlight key text.
Examples of table formatting using our colour palette 

To highlight text in a table, use our violet colour.  

If your table appears in a section that predominantly uses a colour from our secondary palette, you can use this colour as a highlight instead.

Do not use lime as a text colour or as tinted panels.

For guidance on using tables in your communications - see tables.

We will be adding more detailed guidance on charts and diagrams to this guide in due course. In the meantime the ONS has some useful guidance on how to use data visualisation.