Ignas from MailerLite

Ignas5 min readTips & ResourcesDecember 5, 2014

6 steps to pick the right colour for your newsletter

6 steps to pick the right colour for your newsletter

1. Pick your colour palette

Start by choosing your colour palette. You can find default colour themes in our email builder or you can make your own. It is important to start with a palette, to make sure that all colours will work together.

Newsletter examples -color schemes

To find the right colour palette, you can use a couple of tools. A very good online tool for selecting colours is:

Adobe Kuler.

It is an interactive colour wheel. You can choose a colour scheme – monochrome, analogous, complementary, triad – in which to work, and by moving the cursors over the wheel get a mathematically precise colour combination. The best looking newsletters are made using Analogous and Monochrome colour schemes.

The easier way is to pick from millions of pre-made colour palettes on:


You can search by the colour scheme, mood or just random word that pops into your mind.

2. Pick the right amount of colours

There are 3 main colour blocks in your newsletter – background (the main colour that will cover most of the newsletter's space), foreground (the main content box) and highlight colour (the button or the highlighted column).

Newsletter background, foreground and highlight are - complementary colours

Too many colours make a design heavy, so always stick to the fixed amount of colours. The optimal number of colours for a newsletter should be 3 (or 4, if you include the white colour).

If you will use colour wheel and colour schemes to pick your palette, there is a different colour limit for every:

Monochrome:; up to 5 colours
Analog: 2-3 colours
Complementary: 1-2 colours
Triad: 1-2 colours

3. Set the background and foreground colours

The background is an area which makes your newsletter’s content to pop out. So carefully choose its colour – you can use either our patterns or custom colour.

how to choose newsletter background colours

When you pick up the background, you need to make sure it makes a contrast with the foreground. Pick either the darkest or the brightest colour in your colour palette, or a colour close to black or white as your background. Fit other elements accordingly. For example, if you choose the dark background, than the foreground elements (like footer and header) need to be lighter than the background to create contrast and the other way round. If your background is colourful (e.g, example, red) choose a foreground colour which is close to the background colour, just a little bit darker or lighter (dark red). In other words – monochrome colours.

A bright colour background is the best choice most of the time because it looks good with all colours. It is not as easy with the dark colour background as it absorbs the intensity of colours. If you don’t use enough bright elements to create a contrast, the design will look very dark and heavy. If you are not sure whether dark colour looks good as the background – always switch to the light background. This way you will always win.

4. Choose the important areas & highlight them with colours

When you want to emphasize particular parts of your newsletter, use vibrant contrasting colours. It is mostly applicable for call-to-action section, like a button. Avoid using grey, black or other dull colours for your button. It needs to have a tasty colour to attract attention. Use the most eye-catching colour in your palette for the button. Complementary colours are the best for this purpose.

Use vibrant colours to highlight the important parts of the text as well.

5. Balance your colours

Like on the swings, balancing colours is also important to make a design move. To make a good composition, use the same or similar colour for the elements which are opposite each other in a composition – e.g., use the same colour for the header and the footer.

pick colour for your newsletter

If you set highlight phrases to, for example, red colour, then you should use the same colour on the other element – e.g. on the button.

If you are using an image, you should also take into consideration its colour match the design to it.

6. Set your text colour

text colours for email newsletter

Text colour is also an important part of your newsletter’s design. The contrast between the text colour and the background on which it is situated needs to be quite big. The easiest way is to use white, slightly grey, dark grey or black colours for your text, depending on where the text is:

1. Set texts to white or slightly grey, if they are on the brightly colourful or dark background.

2. Set texts to black or dark grey, if they are situated on bright or white background.

3. If you want to add some colours to your text, remember that all colours work on white or very bright background. Or you need to check the colour wheel, to match them. Also don’t forget to balance composition and use the same colour on your button.

Learn more about email design
Ultimate Guide - How to design effective emails