Lesson on the resistor color code 
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Lesson on the resistor color code

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This lesson explains how to read the color code painted on the bands of the resistors. This information is deliberately brief - but sufficient - because of the many electronic lessons that can be found on the Internet.

In most cases, the resistor is presented with colored rings (bands) around it. Each color corresponds to a digit.

The correspondence between the digits and the colors of the bands is named the resistor color code: this code is used to determine the value of a resistor or indicate its values by using a color code. It is defined by the international standard IEC 60062 entitled "Marking codes for resistors and capacitors".

Example of a resistor (source Wikipedia.org):
Example of a resistor component

Resistor values are standardized and defined by the international standard «IEC 60063» entitled «Preferred number series for resistors and capacitors». These values are classified by series associated with a specific tolerance. The most widely used for consumer electronics is the E24 series (tolerance ±5%): in this series, 24 standard values are defined and for which it is possible to use a multiple of 10 (it is known as «decade»).

Method to read

You must first turn the resistor the right way up. Usually, the resistor has a gold or silver band that must be placed on the right. In other cases, it is the largest band that must be placed on the right or the band placed closest the extremity you must put on the left.

There are three types of resistors depending on the number of bands: 4-band, 5-band and 6-band resistors. Each resistor type is described in the following paragraphs.

4-band resistors

Example of a 4-band resistor
220 kohms resistor

5-band resistors

Example of a 5-band resistors
30,2 kohms resistor

6-band resistors

Example of a 6-band resistor
270 ohms resistor

Summary table

The following printable summary table will allow you to have the resistor color code within reach, in addition to the software Atlence Resistor Viewer.

Summary of the resistor color code

Note : The 3rd band (3rd significant digit) is only used when the tolerance of the resistor is less than 2%.

List of the 24 normalized values in the E24 series:

Test your skills

To practice and test your knowledge on the resistor color code, download Atlence Resistor Viewer: it includes a quiz on the resistor color code.


A mnemonic to keep in mind the resistor color code is to remember one of the following two sentences:

Bad Beer Rots Our Young Guts But Vodka Goes Well


Black Bears Rarely Outrun Young Grizzlys But Victimize Gray Wolves

By taking the first letter of each word, you get the color:

1st letter Color Position
B Black 0
B Brown 1
R Red 2
O Orange 3
Y Yellow 4
G Green 5
B Blue 6
V Violet 7
G Gray 8
W White 9

The position of the words in the sentence (by starting the numbering at 0) indicates the digit that corresponds to the color of the band.

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