I would like the xcolor color that is equivalent to the default text color in LaTeX. Is this simply black? Or is it some (slightly lighter) shade of grey? Perhaps surprising, I'm having trouble searching for the answer.

  • xcolor sets color{black} at the end, so the answer is: It's the same as color package, unless black has a different setup. – user31729 Nov 16 '15 at 17:55
  • @ChristianHupfer: Is the default text color based on this definition of black, though? – golmschenk Nov 16 '15 at 18:14
  • I would say, they are identical. From a visual impression I could not detect any difference! – user31729 Nov 16 '15 at 18:23

The default color is black; but if you are unsure that some package might change it, it's possible to extract the one LaTeX will start with by saying


since . refers to the current color. Then you can say \color{defaultcolor} to go back to the starting color.



% Emulate the possible action of a package that changes the default color



Some text
\extractcolorspec{.}{\temp} \texttt{\meaning\temp}


Some text
\extractcolorspec{.}{\temp} \texttt{\meaning\temp}


Some Text
\extractcolorspec{.}{\temp} \texttt{\meaning\temp}


enter image description here

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  • There is \normalcolor already, so the above isn't needed. – user4686 Sep 21 '18 at 6:30

The precise definition of black depends on the color model. Both color and xcolor load the 'default' dvipsnam.def file and especially xcolor uses


whereas color uses


So in both packages the definitions are the same if the color model names mean the same models then.

Since xcolor explicitly uses \color{black} at the end of the package, the textcolor is black then.

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  • Can you please clarify "if the color model names mean the same models"? – Randy Cragun Jul 21 '19 at 20:54

FWIW, xcolor provides a quick check on the system's default color. This system is a G5 running OSX 10.5.8, which shouldn't make a bit of difference. But, the default color here isn't "black."

xcolor.pdf https://ctan.org/pkg/xcolor?lang=en v2.12 Dr. Kern (11 May 2016)

pp.23-24 ¶ 2.6.4 Color testing

(borrowing your insightful code from the foregoing discussion, and using \estractcolorspecs, with the final "s":) [see xcolor.pdf ¶ 2.13 pp.28-29]

\extractcolorspecs {(color)}{(model-cmd)}{(color-cmd)} Extracts the color specification of (color) and puts it into (model-cmd) and (color-cmd), respectively.



\usepackage[dvipsnames*, x11names, svgnames, hyperref]{xcolor}

% Create some commands a la \TeX style (\LaTeX would use \newcommand)

% Get the system's default color


% extract the color into Model and Color

Default Color Model: \dfltColorModel

Default Color: \dfltColor




enter image description here

From the \testcolor paragraph (p.23):

If the column-model matches the model of the color in question, its parameters are underlined.

Here, the system's default color is "gray" "0," as confirmed by the underlining in the testcolors printout.

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