I see many apps today uses shades of white extensively in their design. Even action bar color is shade of white which was used to be a dark color earlier. This seems to be a trend.

As I read in this post, it seems it is better to have dark letters on light backgrounds, but post seems old, including mentioned resources.

May be this is because introduction of dark theme in Android 10, in order to show clear contrast between dark theme and light one, designers making the light theme more lighter by even making the action bar light.

I am on the way to design a theme for an android app which supports also supports the dark theme. I already use shade of white in my light themes design except action bar and few other places, Is it better to set action bar color to a shade of white for the light theme?

(I am asking this in the context material design in android apps)

  • 1
    Usually, for short things like headlines or labels it doesn't really matter if it's dark on white or vice versa. But for longer text elements dark letters on white are better for the eye, as white on dark requires extra visual processing an strains the eyes. So for an action bar it really is up to you, visually. Currently don't have the sources to back this claim up, so only adding this as a comment.
    – Big_Chair
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 9:22
  • @Big_Chair thanks for the comment, so although dark mode good in terms of battery serving but bad for the eye.
    – kaushalyap
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 11:20
  • Any reason to not just follow the app setting (or global setting, where available)? E.g., if the user has selected Dark theme, use a dark navbar; if the user has selected Light theme, use a light navbar?
    – sintax
    Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


You have dismissed the findings of scientific studies simply because they are "old". That is a bad move until you find more recent studies that contradict the old findings. You will find that those studies generated findings based on human constraints rather than technological constraints. In the time between now and those studies, technologies may have been upgraded but humans have not.

Worth noting that using pure black and pure white in UI designs is not great, because they should be reserved for highlights and shadows (typically in hi-resolution imagery), which can achieve greater "pop" and visual appeal.

Sounds like your theme is using light theme with dark action bar. Light theme offers you the ability to be more creative with color and light: so the choice is yours, use a brand color or a shade of white or a dark color.

I'd focus thought on the dark mode case, do you use dark theme with light action bar there? Some of the main use-cases for Dark Mode is to suppress light leakage, say in a cinema or just before going to sleep, so a light background anywhere on the screen will hamper that suppression.

  • actually you have some good points, but your answer does not answer my question() in order to be accepted. Please also answer the third paragraph of the question so I could accept the answer
    – kaushalyap
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 12:02
  • Updated my answer, hope that helps.
    – straya
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 2:21
  • I did not get the needed answer I edited the third paragraph of the question to clarify things better.
    – kaushalyap
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 9:46
  • Be more concerned about the dark theme, it should avoid light leakage. While the light theme offers you the ability to be more creative with color and light: so the choice is yours, use a brand color or a shade of white or a dark color (perhaps to perpetuate an old, known style of your app?).
    – straya
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 23:56
  • I suggested edit: which include some text from your last comment. Other than that you need to add an argument about using white text in dark background for action bar. something like @Big_Chair mentioned in his comment order to complete the answer
    – kaushalyap
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 1:03

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