I currently have an on-screen table that is ~250 rows long. To make it easier to read, I've decided to go with zebra striping. From what I can gather from this question, the ideal alternate color is something that doesn't contrast too much from the base color (in this case white).

The rest of the UI has a pale blue color, something along the lines of (226, 237, 253), We are looking to maintain a corporate and conservative feel. What colors would you suggest as the alternating color? Keep in mind that they should not contrast too much with white, but just enough to be significant.

  • Asking for specific colours makes this a design and not a UX question. If you can make the question more general by asking for how to decide which colours to choose, then it would be OK.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 9:17
  • I can't, but you can flag the question for a moderator to migrate it for you.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 9:20
  • I'd use the white and the pale blue you posted. If those colors already exist, using them will not add any "clutter" to the UI. Is there some reason you don't want to use the pale blue?
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 10:04
  • I too would go with existing ones. If your table is already light blue, use white or a brighter version of the light blue to contrast the lines subtly. Again, it all depends on the color palette already in use. Are there grays you can use that are used elsewhere in the page?
    – KMSTR
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 10:08
  • The existing blue colors feel a bit too much "in your face" at the moment. Remember that it will be 100+ lines of blue staring the user in the face. And yes, I am considering using a gray (238,238,238). KMSTR: consider adding your comment as an answer instead so I can accept it if the gray is a good fit :) Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 10:45

3 Answers 3


The colour you suggest ( rgb(226, 237, 253) ) is not a bad choice but I personally try to keep the zebra striping as subtle as possible. Almost so it is imperceptible but still aids scanning. This would typically be a slight variation on whatever colour the background of the table is.

So in your case I would you go for a very pale grey such as #fafafa. I appreciate that the blue is part of the corporate brand but a pale grey on white suits any user interface. It's a subjective question really but my opinion is that using a different colour is more distracting from the content of the table than a darker or lighter shade of the same colour.

  • The question then (and I guess this is more technical rather than design) is, would you deem this color contrasting enough to white? How about on old low-contrast screens? Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 13:31
  • @ArnabDatta That is a fair point well made. My argument would be that a zebra stripe is a ux improvement but not essential. The table would be perfectly readable without them so I would endeavour to choose the best contrast combination for the majority of users. How you determine the quality of the monitor of your users is another question again! Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 13:43

To make it easier to read, I've decided to go with zebra striping

Before you make that decision, determine if it's truly needed. Often it's added when it's not needed, and then only adds to the business and can actually be a detriment.

One thing to consider might be very light horizontal dividers between each row. That's sometimes less distracting than alternating rows.

  • Well, as far as needed, I don't think so. However, the product manager's view is that this should be in place. Honestly, I agree that this is a nice thing to have. Light horizontal dividers would be a PITA to maintain in terms of code, so that's not feasible. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 18:35
  • 1
    I'd argue if it's not needed, then it's a detriment.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 19:07
  • Well, we might not lose customers over it. However, after several hallway testing rounds, the feedback was clear. Users preferred zebra striping to just plain white rows. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 22:14
  • There is "some evidence":alistapart.com/articles/zebrastripingdoesithelp that zebra striping doesn't work or has at best a marginally positive effect. Worth a read at least.
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 23:04

A List Apart has actually retested the zebra question using a better test. See here: http://alistapart.com/article/zebrastripingmoredataforthecase

Their general conclusion is it does help, and it doesn't hurt so why not use them.

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