I have a table that I am using colors to highlight certain cells containing the repeated values. Cells with values that do not repeat are uncoloured.


Because of illusionary effects, the cells that are not coloured look "off white" or even a pale cream, or light blue.

You can spot that they are actually white if you use a sheet of paper to cover the coloured cells around them.

Below is the same table again, I have marked the cells that are infact white with a red X


How can I stop this colour illusion?

I suspect that actively colouring the white backgrounded cells a grey could work.

This is primarily for viewing on Monitors, but it may also be printed.

  • Perhaps calibrate your monitor??? I'm having absolutely no issue seeing white in either image.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 5:01
  • If it is my monitor, then I still have a problem. Because I don't control how well calibrated the clients monitor's are. Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 5:08
  • 1
    Exactly.. and any effort to alter an image to appear correct on a poorly calibrated monitor will only result in the image looking poor on a correctly calibrated monitor. In short, you're worrying over something you can't fix on screen. If the boxes are #ffffff, then that's all you can do.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 5:24
  • 2
    Not necessarily, Perhaps other solutions such as using a pinstriped background on white cells, might be better Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 5:38
  • Then maybe not use color at all. It strikes me you have repeating data and column headers. Are you sure the table is the right tool to express what you want to express with the colors? I can see the non colored values(4) gone, and the similar ones replaced by one letter, digit or symbol, with a box on the side stating 6 values for the data. That would reduce the characters in this by 2/3. Just an idea.
    – user29318
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 9:52

1 Answer 1


Neighbouring fields always influence the perception of colors. Not only the white cells but also the colored cells look differently when isolated. This is unavoidable because of the way the cones in the retina work. The only way to weaken this effect is to give the white cells a distinct color or grey as you suggested.

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