Colors and the Web
Excerpted from HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Sixth Edition, Visual QuickStart Guide, pages 82.
Currently (mid 2006), around 80% of the Web surfing public use 24- or 32-bit monitors, 16% use 16-bit monitors, and fewer than 1% use 8-bit monitors. In 2002, those numbers were quite different: 50% on 24-bit, 40% on 16-bit and 10% on 8-bit. The trend is clearly toward so-called “True Color” monitors in which any of 16 million colors can be displayed.
In the days when 8-bit monitors were the norm, you had to restrict yourself to only the browser safe colors in order to ensure that the colors you chose would appear correctly on your Web pages. However, as the numbers show, so few people are using 8-bit monitors, that it is no longer an issue. You may use any colors you like. (If you’re interested in the whys and wherefores of browser safe colors, I have maintained some information about them on my Web site.)
Check the inside back cover of this book for a handy table for choosing colors. If you’d rather stick to browser-safe colors, I've made a complete table of them as well. (Since browser-safe colors don’t print well, it doesn’t make sense to include them on the cover.) There's also a small table of the sixteen pre-defined colors and their hexadecimal equivalents.