Tips for Choosing Book Cover Colors

The book cover colors you choose will depend on the emotions or feelings you want your cover to evoke. Your book cover design professional should use a combination of colors that speak to your topic and attract your target audience.

Lighter pastel colors are calming, making them suitable for feminine and self-help topics. Darker solids are more masculine, which work well for topics geared toward men. Bright primary colors are fun and attract children. They also work well for humorous books.

Choose book cover colors that suit the topic. Reds and yellows go well with a book on barbecue recipes. Green fits money management and investment or ecological topics. Darker blue is for business, where lighter blue goes with self-help or spiritual topics.

As a general rule, limit the number of different book cover colors to three or four; otherwise the cover will look too busy. If a central image on the cover contains several colors, the rest of the cover should employ just one or two colors that complement the image.

Light colors should be used against dark backgrounds and vice versa. This is to help the text stand out clearly. However, you will be surprised at the number of book covers printed dark on dark or light on light, which washes out the impact.

The book cover color combinations below will give you a general sense of the categories they tend to represent. This list is not definitive. Go to a bookstore or look online at book cover colors to see how these combinations are incorporated into actual designs.

The first color is the predominant color—the main theme or background color. The second color(s) represent the accent, which might be used sparingly or generously in the typeface or as a border or design element. Note that black and white have been included only as predominant colors, as they tend to complement nearly every color.

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ANTIQUE

Brown + Dark Orange, Mustard, Tan
Dark Green + Brown, Tan
Mustard + Brown, Green, Tan
White + Gray, Silver

CLASSY

Black + Gold, Tan, Purple
Rust or Maroon + Black, Blue
Sage + Black, Mustard, Orange, Red

COMFORTING

Blue + Light Blue
White + Blue
Orange + Mustard
Light Yellow + Tan

COOL

Blue + Light Blue
Purple + Light Blue
Dark Orange + Light Blue
Yellow + Sliver

CORPORATE

Blue + Light Blue, Gray
Dark Green + Silver, Black
Dark Purple + Yellow, Dark Orange
White + Blue, Dark Gold, Gray

EXCITING

Green + Red, Orange
Orange + Yellow, Blue
Purple + Yellow
White + Primary Color

FEMININE

Light Yellow + Green, Lavender, Light Blue, Purple
Pink + Purple
Light Blue + Light Pink
Light Green + Light Purple
Tan + Pink, Light Green
White + Pink, Plum, Teal

FOOD

Green + Brown, Orange, Purple
Orange + Dark Red, Yellow
Purple + Brown, Yellow
Red + Brown, Green
White + Green, Orange, Red, Yellow
Yellow + Green, Orange, Red, Tan

FRESH

Green + Light Green, Tan, Yellow
Orange + Yellow
Red + Green, Yellow
Yellow + Orange

FUN/HAPPY

Blue + Yellow
Dark Pink + Yellow
Orange + Red
Turquoise + Green, Blue
White + Primary Colors
Yellow + Blue, Dark Yellow

HEALTHY

Green + Orange, Purple, Yellow
Orange + Green, Red, Yellow
White + Green, Orange, Purple, Yellow

MASCULINE

Black + Dark Orange, Blue, Dark Green
Brown + Silver
Dark Blue + Green
Green + Gold, Tan
Silver + Yellow
Red + Brown, Gray, Yellow

MODERN

Blue + Dark Blue, Yellow
Gray + Purple, Silver
Purple + Green, Orange
Silver + Blue, Gray, Orange, Yellow
White + Gray, Light Blue, Silver, Teal

NATURAL

Blue + Brown, Green, Tan, Yellow
Green + Dark Green, Tan, Yellow
Mustard + Brown, Tan
Tan + Green, Yellow
White + Blue, Brown, Green, Tan, Yellow

RICH

Black + Maroon
Gray + Yellow
Gold + Dark Green, Brown, Maroon
Sage + Dark Orange

POWERFUL

Black + Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow
Dark Blue + Green, Yellow
Red + Gray, Silver
White + Red, Silver

TRUSTWORTHY

Blue + Light Blue
Mustard + Sliver
Tan + Gray
White + Blue, Red, Yellow

WARM/HOT

Dark Green + Red
Dark Orange + Mustard
Red + Orange, Yellow

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