How to specify colors in Matplotlib Python?

The best thing about Matplotlib is that it supports various color formats that make it easier for you to specify colors in the plot:

1. CSS4 color names: It is the easiest way of specifying colors. Colors such as beige, aquamarine, lime, chocolate, and others are CSS color names. For a complete list of CSS colors, visit Matplotlib documentation.

2. CSS color abbreviations: These are also called base colors, and they are eight in number:

Base Colors Description
r red
g green
b blue
c cyan
m magenta
y yellow
k black
w white

3. Hexadecimal RGB color value: It is a case-insensitive hexadecimal RGB string. It has the following format:


The value of each digit ranges from 0 to F.

4. Hexadecimal RGBA color value: It is also a case-insensitive hexadecimal RGBA string. Here, A refers to the alpha value and provides transparency to the color. RGBA value looks like this #RRGGBBAA. The value of each digit ranges from 0 to F.

5. Tableau color: There are ten colors in the Tableau palette. Here, you specify the color like this tab:color. Following are the ten colors that come under the Tableau palette:

tab:red, tab:green, tab:blue, tab:orange, tab:purple, tab:cyan, tab:olive, tab:gray, tab:brown, and tab:pink.

6. Property cycle color: These are 10 colors in the property cycle, and their value is case-sensitive. It is written as Cx, where x is a number from 0 to 9. Note that C must be in a capital letter; otherwise, it won't work. The following table shows the color value of property cycle color:

Property Cycle Color Description
C0 #1f77b4
C1 #ff7f0e
C2 #2ca02c
C3 #d62728
C4 #9467bd
C5 #8c564b
C6 #e377c2
C7 #7f7f7f
C8 #bcbd22
C9 #17becf

Note: Apart from the size color formats, Matplotlib also supports xkcd color survey.

Let's learn how to specify colors in Matplotlib using an example.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

plt.plot([-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3], [0,1,2,3,4,5,6], color='red', label='CSS color name')
plt.plot([-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3], [-1,0,1,2,3,4,5], color='g', label='CSS color abbreviation')
plt.plot([-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3], [-2,-1,0,1,2,3,4], color='#3366CC', label='RGB color')
plt.plot([-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3], [-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3], color='#F3993EF0', label='RGBA color')
plt.plot([-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3], [-4,-3,-2,-1,0,1,2], color='tab:pink', label='Tableau color')
plt.plot([-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3], [-5,-4,-3,-2,-1,0,1], color='C9', label='Property cycle color')
plt.legend(bbox_to_anchor=(1.5, 1.0))
plt.title('Matplotlib Colors Example')
plt.xlabel('X Axis')
plt.ylabel('Y Axis')


Matplotlib Colors

In this code, all the six different ways of setting colors are shown.