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NHS colours

The NHS corporate colour is NHS Blue (Pantone® 300), this should be used as the primary colour when designing communications materials, it has a high recognition and identify that the communication is from the NHS.

This is supported by a vibrant secondary print colour palette of 13 colours and 10 tints. This will help your designs to stand out and appeal to different audiences.

There is also a colour palette for websites and other electronic media. By using these standard colours consistently, you will help to maintain recognition and trust in NHS communications.

NHS Blue (Pantone® 300)

The NHS print colour palette

The NHS print colour palette supports our straightforward, clear and cost-effective style. The range of colours allows for creativity and diversity, while remaining true to the NHS look and feel.


This palette of colours is intended to allow:

  • the publication of a variety of leaflets and other printed and online communications;
  • the flexibility to develop local literature systems; additional clarity for charts and diagrams;
  • interest and appeal for a variety of audiences; and
  • RGB colour variations for electronic presentations.

The palette also allows for degrees of 'corporacy'. Not everything needs to be NHS Blue, but using the same palette across the NHS builds on our overall identity.


It is strongly recommended that the NHS colour palette is used in all NHS communications. If you need to extend the palette range, please ensure that any additional colours are compatible with the originals. Colours such as fluorescents or metallics may be used for special products. However, you must make sure that their use is consistent with the NHS values and principles. Bear in mind that metallic colours should be used with caution, as they appear expensive. They may be appropriate, for example, for communications for special occasions, but make sure you consider how they will be perceived.

Secondary print colour palette

Four-colour process printing

The international standard for producing colours was developed by Pantone®. Four-colour process printing, known as CMYK, uses up to four component colours to create a standard Pantone® colour-match. These components are:

  • C for cyan
  • M for magenta
  • Y for yellow
  • K for key or black.

However, four-colour process printing will generally produce a less vivid colour than the standard Pantone® special colour.


The NHS colour palette has been chosen so that, when printed in four-colour process, the Pantone® equivalent is very similar. When printing in one colour only, it is best to use NHS Blue or black. Otherwise, you may use any other colour from the NHS colour palette - except NHS Yellow and NHS Light Green, as they read poorly against white paper.

Tints

You can use the colours within the NHS colour palette as solid colours or as tints. Palette tints bring greater breadth and flexibility to our range of colours. They are particularly useful when producing diagrams and charts, and allow for more creativity with one-and-two colour communications. The NHS logo and logotypes must never appear as tints.

Secondary print tint colour palette

Background colours

For all NHS communications, you can create a background using any colour from the NHS colour palette. However, you need to remember that:

  • against a solid NHS Yellow background, text headings should appear in NHS Blue or black;
  • against other backgrounds, text headings may be any colour so long as they enhance readability.

If you are printing using a coloured background, you need to make sure there is sufficient contrast and clarity. On a light coloured background, the NHS logo should appear in NHS Blue or black. You should also bear in mind that:

  • the base colour should be selected from the NHS colour palette; and
  • the NHS logo should be reversed out (with the lettering within the logo printing the same colour as the background); except
  • against a solid NHS Yellow or white background, the NHS logo should print in NHS Blue or black and the lettering within the logo should be white.

Reversed out NHS logo on NHS palette printed background colours

Printing an NHS logo or logotype

You can reproduce an NHS logo or logotype in NHS Blue and black, or even just black, when printing on a solid NHS Yellow or white background. On other coloured backgrounds, logos or logotypes should preferably be printed white out of the background.

NHS logo with white lettering on NHS yellow printed background

Printing onto coloured paper

Wherever possible you should use the NHS logo on white paper. If that is not possible and you are printing onto coloured paper, the NHS logo should print black with clear lettering.

Black NHS logo with clear lettering on coloured paper

 

It is important to remember that white, yellow or pale coloured paper can enhance readability for people who are visually impaired. Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), the NHS, and anyone working on behalf of the NHS, has a duty to anticipate the needs of disabled people by making sure that accessible information is readily available. An appropriate choice of colour scheme is one way of anticipating these needs. You also have a responsibility to ensure that 'reasonable adjustments' are made to accommodate the needs of those who may be disadvantaged by regular print formats and type size.

Paint references

The best match-paint colour reference to NHS Blue is BSI 18E53. The best RAL match is 5017. RAL is a colour specifier for paints, powder coatings and gels.

Last updated: 02/08/10