Main title

Colour Management



The IEC and colour management

Many people are concerned with colour management issues. Individuals need it for such uses as printing photographs taken with a digital camera. Professionals, such as graphic designers who need to develop an image to their liking and then transfer it from the computer to a company’s website, are looking for more specific colour definitions.


Since 1999, the IEC has resolved such issues as:

  • defining colour data in terms of perceived colours;
  • defining a common source for all equipment for colour management measuring methods, conditions and data processing;
  • assessing the overall quality of colour management throughout the communications process.

IEC standards on colour management don’t just solve problems generally, but also adapt the solutions to each type of equipment using colour. They offer solutions to different types of audiences. Not only the specialists and colour professionals find adequate remedies to colour management, but the general public can also benefit from these standards.

A collegial effort

Several other standardization bodies have collaborated with the IEC to develop colour management standards, namely the ISO Photography and Graphic Technology committees, the ICC, or International Colour Consortium, and the CIE, or Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage.


The IEC and the ISO collaborated mainly on the IEC 61966-2-1 and IEC 61966-2-2 standards. IEC 61966-2-1 defines the default RGB colour encoding used for colour data exchange on the vast majority of consumer and office computer systems, and the internet. IEC 61966-2-2 defines an extended range RGB colour encoding for large dynamic range and colour gamut scene colours.


The ICC is an industry consortium, established in 1993 by eight industry vendors. The founders include Adobe, Agfa, Apple, Kodak, Fogra, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Taligent. It has developed a profile format specification, which provides the information necessary to interpret most colour encodings (including the IEC colour encodings), and convert from one encoding to another.


The CIE works closely with the IEC on fundamental colour science standards, vocabulary, and colour imaging standards in the newly formed CIE Division 8. There exists a memorandum of mutual understanding between IEC, ISO and CIE organizations that clarifies the nature of the collaboration so as to avoid work duplication and create new opportunities.


View the complete list of IEC International Standards on colour management (IEC 61966).