Identifying Audio Jacks With Colored Labels




Introduction: Identifying Audio Jacks With Colored Labels

About: Writer, engineer, techie. I've been using computers since the original Apple II in 1978 and have always been interested in technical topics. Check out my articles on They include how-to...

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As every adult has said many times, kids have it way easier than we did. When we grew up adhesive loose leaf reinforcement labels only came in white. Now they’re available in bright colors.

I noticed that the Avery neon loose leaf labels are colored yellow, orange, green, and red. It’s Avery part number 6754, but the packaging is very confusing. The part number is on the back of the package. The front of the package says 924 –the number of labels in the package. While these aren’t the same shades as the standardized color codes now used on most computers they’re close enough to be useful.

I was kidding about colored loose leaf labels making life easier, but kids really do have it easier hooking up computers because of industry standard color coded connectors. Different manufacturers use the same color designations for different connectors making it much easier to hook up cables with similar connectors. This is especially true with sound cards. On early sound cards the three jacks for line in, line out, and microphone were all the same color and generally only had tiny labels stamped into the metal, or even worse - icons. Now it’s incredibly easy to identify the standard connectors – light blue is line in, lime green is line out, and pink is the microphone.

Coincidentally loose leaf rings are almost exactly the right size for 3.5 mm. (mini) jacks. I use them to label older sound equipment without color identifications and using them to make jacks clearer on some computers where the color coding is not as visible because of the design of the jack. Unfortunately there are no blue loose leaf rings (line in) but if I leave that one empty it’s easy to identify by process of elimination.

Step 1: Color Coded Sound Card

Here I’m using red and green labels to identify the microphone and line out jacks on a fairly old sound card. The line in jack is the only one which is left bare. While it’s unlikely that I would ever want to use this old a card as a sound card in a high end computer, it is useful when I need to add an old style Game I/O port to a computer.

Step 2: SPDIF Rear Panel

The rings are too small to go over RCA jacks. But if I use scissors to cut a ring in half I can put the two halves on each side of the jack. If I wanted it to look prettier I could use two loose leaf rings and overlap them. This RCA jack will be mounted in a DB-25 connector knock out (typically used for printer ports) and hooked up to a motherboard’s SPDIF digital audio out connector.

Step 3: SPDIF Cable

I’ve got lots of RCA cables in a variety of colors – yellow for video, white for left audio, red for right audio, red-green-blue for component video, etc. Unfortunately RCA cables with orange connectors are much more rare. The loose leaf rings don’t fit over the connectors, but cut open they’ll wrap around the connector and at least provide some indication that the other end of this cable is plugged into a digital coax audio jack. Another choice would have been to use a piece of orange colored plastic tape.

Step 4: Just for Fun

And just to be silly, I’ve been putting green loose leaf labels on portable electronics with mini headphone jacks.

I’ve found a couple of other uses for colored loose leaf labels, but that’s a future instructable.

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    2 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea Phil. For years, I've been straining to make sense the gazillion connections behind the tuner in my home theater, where everything terminates. Trying to read upside down and backwards from a severe angle has resulted in many missed-wired components... I'm off to Staples:)

    Good luck in the challenge.

    Lectric Wizard
    Lectric Wizard

    8 years ago on Step 4

    Never would have thought of this.. Very inventive, if that's a real word ? CHEERS!