How to select 5 optimally visible and distinguishable colors?


I have a document that uses 5 different colors for text, on a white background.

  • blue
  • green
  • brown
  • red
  • black (or any shade of gray)

I need to adjust the colors so the text has the best visibility against the white background and each color is easily distinguishable from the others.

I found some problems:

  • If the colors are too light, they become difficult to see against the white background. If too dark, blue becomes too difficult to distinguish from black.
  • Red and brown are similar, so difficult to distinguish.

Is there some way to use the color wheel to identify the best balance of these two properties within these five colors?

9/6/2014 9:06:00 AM

I wouldn't say there is a full-proof method for this. I think you may just need to adjust the Saturation and Brightness of each color so that colors that are close, like black and brown, don't appear the same. See my example below for your 5 colors.

Text colors

9/6/2014 6:28:00 PM