Are there any color conventions for network cable? I'm talking jacket color here, not the color of the individual conductors. I've seen and used mostly grey and blue which is what's usually readily available. I have to make a few runs and using some color would help differentiate them up in the rafters. However, I don't want to choose a particular color if it has some special meaning in the realm of professional installers.

  • 4
    Be careful what you run up in your rafters, plenum cable should be used because you don't want it to; 1. burn easily, 2 emit toxic smoke.
    – gm3dmo
    Jan 16, 2010 at 8:40
  • 1
    The "rafters" are not part of air distribution in this building. Plenum cable shouldn't be necessary.
    – Boden
    Jan 19, 2010 at 16:15
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    How is this not constructive? The answer is apparently "no, there is no color convention" so I can stop looking and make up one that makes sense to me. I keep seeing this where we close questions that are asking for a definitive answer because there isn't a definitive answer; that is the answer and that doesn't make the question unconstructive. Sep 23, 2013 at 14:03

10 Answers 10


While I doubt there is not a universal convention for colouring network cables (we use yellow for staff lan, green for test lan, blue for voice, orange for fibre, red for firewall / public lan), it's more important that you:

  • Define a standard that is relevent to your requirements
  • Document, publish and publicise the standard
  • Adhere to the standards

In my experience (and I'm NOT a networks person btw), but rushed and hurried network installations take a VERY long time to fix. Poor cable management, poorly planned installations and messy unorganised cables (not just comms cables ;) is very unprofessional and very expensive to fix later.


There's no universal standard that I know of.

When we pulled Cat6 in our building a few years ago, we implemented our own standard.

In the cable closets:

  • normal patch cables were grey
  • any special connections (e.g. a couple offices connected to the DMZ) were red or yellow
  • a couple of offices were cross-connected using purple
  • temporary connections were white

In the server room:

  • blue for normal servers
  • red for servers in the DMZ
  • green for external connections
  • white and purple as for wiring closets - temp and cross-connect

At one point we ordered some cross-over cables and they came in orange, so we threw out all of our white home-made ones and only used orange for cross-over.

  • 6
    That's the key. Create your own standard, then stick to it. Jan 16, 2010 at 1:14
  • Usage by network (e.g. DNZ/Public/Internal) seems to make more sense---as this is ultimately information that is otherwise not obvious.
    – Richard
    Jan 16, 2010 at 10:58

The only one I thought may be a defacto standard was red for crossover. I've seen red used for both, but 9 times out of 10 if I find a red patch cable somewhere it is a crossover.

Other than that, I've seen orange, green, blue, grey, yellow, etc all used for all kinds of uses.

In our office, we did standardize a bit with orange for data and green for voice. We were using a VoIP phone system so in reality they were all just data runs for 2 LANs. Plus the phones have a pass-through LAN in them and will VLAN tag the phone and data for two different VLANs. So in the end it wasn't really necessary.

I did see neon pink in a data closet today and was a bit curious about that. It seemed to just be part of all the other data runs though, so maybe it was just someone got the pink cable on the cheap because nobody else wanted it :).


Currently I'm using the following (color selection was based on the options at Fry's in the lengths that I needed).

Blue = Switch to Switch cables
Red = Internal Network
Yellow = Cluster Heart Beat Network
White = Load Balancer Network
Black = Management Network (SAN, Fibre Switches, etc)


I prefer to only use red for cross-over cables. Other then that it doesn't matter all that much.

In a large server room, it can be useful to define some sort of standard, but I have never seen anything consistently applied between multiple organizations.

  • 4
    Hmmm...yellow means "crossover" to me. Jan 16, 2010 at 0:13
  • red, yellow, orange... but so far no blue, green, purple. I wonder if that trend will hold up. Jan 16, 2010 at 0:16
  • We use canary (not yellow) for crossover, but only because nearly every piece of Cisco equipment comes with a canary 6 foot crossover.
    – Scott Pack
    Jan 16, 2010 at 0:41
  • I've primarily seen red and green used for crossover cables.
    – joeqwerty
    Jan 16, 2010 at 0:52
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    @packs: I don't think I've ever seen that much difference between shades of yellow in cables. Unless you're one of those people who says "yellow" when they mean "orange". Besides, I, like many, operate out of an eight-crayon box. Teal==Green. Now where did I put those puce and fuschia cables?... Jan 16, 2010 at 1:22

In the past, I generally use:

  • Yellow for video (IP Cams)
  • Blue for telephone
  • Grey for general LAN
  • Red for DMZ'd stuff
  • White for crossover

So Blue cables are always phone lines (non IP), Yellow's on a separate LAN, and Red is dangerous. Same goes for wall faceplates.


In addition to the good points above, I've learned that it's good to stay away from exotic colors (Pink, purple, etc), unless you are SURE that you can have plenty on hand.

At some point you will need to do some emergency cable replacement at 8:45PM, and Frys and Office Depot are the only computer-friendly businesses open at this hour. They close at 9PM. They only carry green, grey, blue, yellow and red cables.

If that doesn't fit into your color scheme, you might need to come back and fix this later, which requires another downtime.


I don't think there is an industry standard for cable color. This is usually an optional request when cables are going to be ran by a company. Most of the time this will be specified by the network engineer spearheading the project.

I've seen cables being ran from MDF to each IDF by color. I have also seen infrastructure types being differentiated by color (clients, servers, virtual infrastructure, etc..)... implementations like these are usually not standard.


There are probably no any common standard, i.e. we use gray for gigabit ethernet, blue for FE, yellow for the uplinks, black and dark-grey for the non-important equipment you may disconnect almost anytime (i.e. temporary test servers), red for the equipment you may never disconnect (i.e. SANs).


As some of the people already wrote, there's no standard as such. It's best to make up your own, document it and stick to it.

I, eg. use:

  • Yellow for first Ethernet
  • Orange for second Ethernet
  • Red for iLo/DRAC etc.
  • Green for PDUs
  • Blue for links between the switches (always highest quality this one)
  • Purple for firewalls

The thing which you probably know that is also important is to make sure you do everything "the right way" from day 1. If you don't I guarantee you won't be bothered with sticking to it.

Good luck!

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