19 Colour Contrast in PowerPoint

What is Colour Contrast?

A screenshot of the color.review website comparing Maroon and White.

Sufficient colour contrast, or the calculated difference between adjacent colours, is crucial for creating an equitable visual experience.

  • When creating your presentation, it will be necessary to manually check colour contrast when overlaying visual elements.
  • We must meet a minimum colour contrast for text and visual elements. It is recommended to aim for AAA compliance whenever possible for maximum accessibility of your content.
  • You can check colour contrast using free tools such as Colour Contrast Analyser (application with colour dropper) or by inputting hex codes into contrast checkers such as Color.Review.

McMaster Brand Colour Comparisons

Screenshot of the Colour Contrast Analyzer UI.

  • If you are using McMaster brand colours, it is very important to check the contrast of the colours if their contrast is not provided below.
  • It is recommended to aim slightly above AAA or AA contrast to account for differences in monitors, poor internet connections, or lighting locations.
    • Achieving AAA contrast will also prevent the need for remediation at a later date when legislative guidelines change.
  • Lighter accent colours should not be used on white unless they are being used for decorative purposes only.

WCAG 1.4.6 Contrast (Enhanced) AAA – on White

WCAG 1.4.6 Contrast (Enhanced) AAA – on Black

Non-Text Contrast

  • WCAG 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast requires at least a contrast of 3 against adjacent colours for:
    • “Graphical Objects: Parts of graphics required to understand the content, except when a particular presentation of graphics is essential to the information being conveyed.”

Example of Heritage Maroon and Gold and Heritage grey and maroon contrast values.

Use of Colour (WCAG 1.4.1)

Screenshot of a compliant pie chart.

  • Colour cannot be used by itself to convey meaning. This is most frequently seen with charts and graphs that use colour legends.
  • If using colour, it must be combined with additional visual information, such as labels or symbols, that also meet colour contrast requirements.
  • For example, a pie chart must have labelled sections that are legible.


Accessible Digital Content Training Copyright © by Jessica Blackwood and Kate Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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