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Standard Practice for Specifying Color by the Munsell System

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Standard Practice for Specifying Color by the Munsell System


1.1 This practice provides a means of specifying the colors of objects in terms of the Munsell color order system, a system based on the color-perception attributes hue, lightness, and chroma. The practice is limited to opaque objects, such as painted surfaces viewed in daylight by an observer having normal color vision. This practice provides a simple visual method as an alternative to the more precise and more complex method based on spectrophotometry and the CIE system (see Practices E 308 and E 1164). Provision is made for conversion of CIE data to Munsell notation.

1.2 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

Significance and Use

This practice is used by artists, designers, scientists, engineers, and government regulators, to specify an existing or desired color. It is used in the natural sciences to record the colors of specimens, or identify specimens, such as human complexion, flowers, foliage, soils, and minerals. It is used to specify colors for commerce and for control of color-production processes, when instrumental color measurement is not economical. The Munsell system is widely used for color tolerancing, even when instrumentation is employed (see Practice D 3134). It is common practice to have color chips made to illustrate an aim color and the just tolerable deviations from that color in hue, value, and chroma, such a set of chips being called a Color Tolerance Set. A color tolerance set exhibits the aim color and color tolerances so that everyone involved in the selection, production, and acceptance of the color can directly perceive the intent of the specification, before bidding to supply the color or starting production. A color tolerance set may be measured to establish instrumental tolerances. Without extensive experience, it may be impossible to visualize the meaning of numbers resulting from color measurement, but by this practice, the numbers can be translated to the Munsell color-order system, which is exemplified by colored chips for visual examination. This color-order system is the basis of the ISCC-NBS Method of Designating Colors and a Dictionary of Color Names, as well as the Universal Color Language, which associates color names, in the English language, with Munsell notations (3).


color; Munsell; Munsell color order system; Munsell notation; Color--paints/related coatings/materials; Light transmission and reflection; Munsell color system; Reflectance and reflectivity--copy materials/paper; Visual examination--color; Visual examination--copy materials; Visual examination--paints/related coatings/materials; ICS Number Code 17.180.20 (Colours and measurement of light); 87.040 (Paints and varnishes)

To find similar documents by ASTM Volume:

06.01 (Paint -- Tests for Chemical, Physical, and Optical Properties; Appearance)

To find similar documents by classification:

17.180.20 (Colours and measurement of light)

87.040 (Paints and varnishes Including coating powders, paint coatings and protective paint systems)

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Publication Date

Jan. 1, 2008

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Page Count

45 pages

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