Learn how to display colorful messages in the console with or without a library in Node.js

How to show colorful messages in the console in Node.js

One of the problems you run into when working in Node.js is that constantly logged messages, mainly the most important messages get lost in the shuffle with verbose output. The colors are useful on the console to make more dramatic errors, or simply to draw attention to important errors and other warnings.

In this article, you'll learn how to show some text in the node console with colors and style easily with or without a library.

Do it easy with a library

If you don't want to complicate yourself, then you probably want to be modular and use a third party library to achieve your goal. In this case, to change the color of the text in the console we recommend you the colors.js module available on NPM. This module allow you to show color and style in your node.js console with chainable methods (i.e "text".bgBlue.white.underline):

To install the colors.js module in your project execute the following command in your Node.js command prompt:

npm install colors

Read more information about the library and its documentation in the official Github repository here.

Text color

The default way add some properties (with all the available colors as name) in the String.prototype which makes the customization of colors in the console pretty easy:

var colors = require('colors');

console.log("The style of this text will be modified".black);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".red);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".green);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".yellow);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".blue);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".magenta);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".cyan);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".white);
console.log("The style of this text will be modified".gray);

However, if you're afraid of extending String.prototype you can use the safe mode using the non-prototype method:

var colors = require('colors/safe');

console.log(colors.black('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.red('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.green('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.yellow('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.blue('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.magenta('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.cyan('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.white('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.gray('The style of this text will be modified'));

The execution of any of the previous snippets should produce the following result in the console:

Custom text color node.js

Background color

The default way to add a background color to some text in the console, add some properties (with all the available colors and the prefix bg as name) in the String.prototype which makes the customization of colors in the console pretty easy:

var colors = require('colors');

console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgBlack);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgRed);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgGreen);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgYellow);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgBlue);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgMagenta);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgCyan);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgWhite);
// Change the text color to black
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bgWhite.black);
// or "text".black.bgWhite

However, if you're afraid of extending String.prototype you can use the safe mode using the non-prototype method:

var colors = require('colors/safe');

console.log(colors.bgBlack('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgRed('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgGreen('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgGreen('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgYellow('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgBlue('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgMagenta('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgCyan('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bgWhite('The style of this text will be modified'));
// Change the text color to black
console.log(colors.bgWhite.black('The style of this text will be modified'));
// or colors.black.bgWhite("Text")

The execution of any of the previous snippets should produce the following result in the console:

Custom background color node.js

Text styles

There are 8 available styles to apply with Colors.js:

var colors = require('colors');

console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.reset);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.bold);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.dim);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.italic);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.underline);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.inverse);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.hidden);
console.log('The style of this text will be modified'.strikethrough);

However, if you're afraid of extending String.prototype you can use the safe mode using the non-prototype method:

var colors = require('colors/safe');

console.log(colors.reset('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.bold('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.dim('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.italic('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.underline('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.inverse('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.hidden('The style of this text will be modified'));
console.log(colors.strikethrough('The style of this text will be modified'));

Do it without a library

If you don't want to depend on any module, you can implement your own methods based in the following information.

Text color

In order to display text with a specific color, you need to wrap your text within specific symbols and it will be interpreted by the console.

To understand how this works, analyze the following example:

var myText = "Hello World";

var startWrapper = "[31m";
var closeWrapper = "[39m";

// Show some text in the console with red Color
console.log(startWrapper + myText + closeWrapper);

However if you execute the previous code in the console, it won't work! as it will output the plain text "[31mHello World[39m" in the console. So, what's the trick then? The console.log, to show the output, expects the plain string as first parameter (in the same way that the examples of Color.js). Therefore, the following example should work:

// Show some text in the console with red Color
console.log("[31mHello World[39m");

The following table specifies the code for every available color to show:

Color Starts with Ends with Example
Black [30m [39m [30mREPLACE-THIS[39m
Red [31m [39m [31mREPLACE-THIS[39m
Green [32m [39m [32mREPLACE-THIS[39m
Yellow [33m [39m [33mREPLACE-THIS[39m
Blue [34m [39m [34mREPLACE-THIS[39m
Magenta [35m [39m [35mREPLACE-THIS[39m
Cyan [36m [39m [36mREPLACE-THIS[39m
White [37m [39m [37mREPLACE-THIS[39m
Gray [90m [39m [90mREPLACE-THIS[39m

Background color

In order to display text with a specific background color, you need to wrap your text within specific symbols (even if they're already using a text color) and it will be interpreted by the console.

The background color works in the same way that the text color does. However, instead of using the [3x prefix, it uses [4x.

Color Starts with Ends with Example
Black [40m [49m [40mREPLACE-THIS[49m
Red [41m [49m [41mREPLACE-THIS[49m
Green [42m [49m [42mREPLACE-THIS[49m
Yellow [43m [49m [43mREPLACE-THIS[49m
Blue [44m [49m [44mREPLACE-THIS[49m
Magenta [45m [49m [45mREPLACE-THIS[49m
Cyan [46m [49m [46mREPLACE-THIS[49m
White [47m [49m [47mREPLACE-THIS[49m

The following example should display some text with blue background and white text color:

console.log("[37m[44mOur Code World Rocks[49m[39m");

Text styles

In order to apply some text styles to your text, you need to wrap your text within specific symbols (in most of the cases, in order to work, they need to have already a text color) and it will be interpreted by the console.

Color Starts with Ends with Example
Reset [0m [0m [0mREPLACE-THIS[0m
bold [1m [22m [1mREPLACE-THIS[22m
dim [2m [22m [2mREPLACE-THIS[22m
italic [3m [23m [3mREPLACE-THIS[23m
underline [4m [24m [4mREPLACE-THIS[24m
inverse [7m [27m [7mREPLACE-THIS[27m
hidden [8m [28m [8mREPLACE-THIS[28m
strikethrough [9m [29m [9mREPLACE-THIS[29m

The following example should display some red text with an underline:

console.log("[4m[31mSome text[39m[24m");
// Or in other order with the same result
console.log("[31m[4mSome text[24m[39m");

Note that (obviously) the symbols needs to end up respectively in the way they started (<starts color tag|<open style tag|{some text}|close style tag>close color tag> or vice versa).

Happy coding !


Interested in programming since he was 14 years old, Carlos is a self-taught programmer and founder and author of most of the articles at Our Code World.

Become a more social person

Sponsors