Standardization News

Natural Color System

ASTM International Committee E12 on Color and Appearance is currently working closely with the Scandinavian Colour Institute to develop a standard based on the Institute's Natural Color System. The proposed new standard, WK24817, Practice for Specifying Color by the Natural Color System (NCS®©), is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E12.07 on Color Order Systems.

"The Natural Color System describes colors exactly as we see them, is easy to understand, logical and simple to use," says Ellen Carter, an independent color science consultant and the recording secretary of Committee E12. "Any of the millions of colors that exist can be defined within the NCS system and given a precise notation."

Understanding the NCS system gives users the ability to judge the attributes of a color and to communicate and check specifications and identify colors, according to Carter. "The NCS notations describe the purely visual properties of the color and have nothing at all to do with the mixing of pigments or reflection curves," notes Carter.

The NCS system is used internationally in such fields as architecture, corporate identity, cosmetics, education, fashion and textile forecasting and production, interior design and product design. For more information on NCS, visit

Interested parties are invited to join in Subcommittee E12.07's work on WK24817 and other possible standards development work. In addition to WK24817, the subcommittee has received suggestions that it develop standards on the RAL color system and the Practical Color Coordinate System. The subcommittee has developed D1535, Practice for Specifying Color by the Munsell System, and E1360, Practice for Specifying Color by Using the Optical Society of America Uniform Color Scales System.


Technical Information: Ellen C. Carter, Konica Minolta, Pennsville, N.J.

Phone: 856-678-6444

ASTM Staff: Thomas O'Toole

Phone: 610-832-9739

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