ISO 9241 Part 8: Requirements for displayed colours


ISO 9241-8:1997 Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 8: Requirements for displayed colours.


International Standard. Will be replaced by the ISO 9241-300 subseries.

Lifecycle Phase

Build the context of use.

Type of Guidance


Application Area

  • Equipment
  • User testing
  • Software


This part of ISO 9241 specifies how colour should be used on display screens. It restricts itself to text and graphic applications (photorealistic images are explicitly excluded) but includes both the perceptual and the cognitive aspects of colour. The main guiding principle is that colour should be used to help people correctly perceive, recognise and interpret images and information. The specifications cover: default colour set; colour uniformity; colour misconvergence; character height and object size; colour differences; contrast for symbol and character legibility; spectrally extreme colours; background and surrounding image effects; and number of colours. The standard includes a detailed section on colour measurement from visual displays. There are three annexes: colour difference calculations; a visual performance test (this annex is currently blank, since the test in under development); and a bibliography. In many ways, this part of ISO 9241 is an elaboration of ISO 9241-3, which deals with colour displays only in passing.


Manufacturers of visual displays (especially CRT displays) and people that develop user interfaces that use colour for coding, formatting and design. Some parts of the standard are technical and assume knowledge of colour measurement.

See Also

ISO 9241-3:1992 Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 3: Visual display requirements.

ISO 9241-7:1998 Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 7: Requirements for display with reflections.

ISO 9241-12:1998 Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 12: Presentation of information.

ISO 13406-2:2001 Ergonomic requirements for work with visual displays based on flat panels -- Part 2: Ergonomic requirements for flat panel displays.

Note: this page is a few editions behind the eBook and may be out-of-date. For the very latest on ISO 9241 get the eBook version of ISO 9241 for Beginners.

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