Most sites use some shade of grey for the color of their text.

I was reading an article which suggested using a grey (#373d3f) with the rgb values of (55, 61, 63).

My question is whether doing this provides a measurable improvement in readability in comparison to using a grey with equal rgb values (e.g. 62, 62, 62), and if so, then why?

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    If you're downvoting, please let me know why, so I can improve the question.
    – Thredolsen
    Jun 12, 2017 at 10:00
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    That is almost verbatim our advice for any downvote :)
    – Vincent
    Jun 12, 2017 at 13:17
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    A designer colleague of mine said something I have always kept with me: titles and text Never all the way black or all the way white. One reason is for lightness, balance and elegance. Darker text looks heavier and draws attention. With the rule of no black or white in text you now use shade and color to guide attention and create hierarchy. A dark or darkly colored title will be read first, and some mid grey text will not command too much attention and be easy on the eyes. Black text on white background looks old fashioned. Beware I am delving into opinion and non rule based design theory.
    – Webster
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


If something is truly measurable might not be the right question to ask here. I am not an expert myself on that field either, but getting a significant result depends on more things than just a design change.

Anyway, back to the font color part. This also heavily depends on your the rest of your design, your target group and target devices. The article describes some of the needed contrasts to create good readability. There won't be a 'one size fits all' solution for this, you will need to rethink this for every design.

I've just read the article but the writer doesn't say the grey he calls 'Raven' is better than a grey with equal values. It's just the shade of grey he thinks will work best for his case.

The only visible difference between the two is that 'Raven' is slightly cooler than the 63/63/63 grey you describe. He probably chose this because a cooler toned grey matches the rest of the colors better than a warmer toned grey.

Truly knowing what will work best can only be achieved through testing and viewing results.


I agree with @janedoe1337... I've just spent the last while trying to find any research regarding color temperature and legibility (because I too am curious, now), and have been able to find nothing that references it.

It is important to note that you reference accessibility standards when considering contrast. If you're not designing for the web, it may still be a good reference... but keep in mind that if you're designing for print, and are not using a pure white paper, that there may be some validity to a cooler grey retaining better legibility. A cooler color on a warmer background will create more visual contrast.

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    If you agree with an answer, you should upvote it! Jun 13, 2017 at 12:28
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    The principles may vary a bit because we're talking about screen based type, but in terms of printed text, Jan Tschichold argues for a lower contrast being easier on the eye than all the way black in his classic work on book design "Die Neue Typographie".
    – curious
    Jul 5, 2017 at 1:33

"Most site use grey ...."

...and many Users complain that "the internet has become unreadable.."

What is wrong with black text ? Please name a site that with text that is "too black".

Most designers justify grey with "aesthetics". What about readibility ? i.e. not straining to read grey on glaring white. (like much of this site)

Some designers claim that lower contrast helps dyslexics. This more recent study found NO benefit of lower contrast for dyslexics (compared to a control group of non-dyslexics.) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698900000419#FN2

So please stop with the grey and use black for primary content. I'm sure that headlines can be coloured to highlight, distinguish and aid navigation.

I believe there was a study circa 1995 that suggested an off-white background was favoured by some - but it was VERY small group. Hint of beige IIRC.

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    This is a rant and does not really answer the question being asked. Mar 23, 2020 at 13:09
  • The question was: ".... whether doing this provides a measurable improvement in readability in comparison to using a grey." The answer was "no" ... and provided a link as support. If my answer seems a bit "ranty", perhaps because even now, website re-designs are appearing with low-contrast, barely readable, grey text and/or navigation. ....And still no-one has proposed a website with "too black" text. Look at the storm of protest that this article prompted. uxmovement.com/content/…
    – Jules
    May 14, 2020 at 11:05

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