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Does RJ45 color order matter?

When terminating Ethernet cables, one common question that arises is whether the color order of the wires in an RJ45 connector matters. The short answer is yes, the color order does matter in most cases. Properly following the color order standard ensures Ethernet connectivity and avoids issues caused by crossed or reversed pairs. Read on to learn more about RJ45 color order conventions and when they need to be followed.

TLDR; Summary

  • The TIA/EIA-568 standard defines the color order for RJ45 Ethernet cables.
  • Following the standard color order keeps the cable’s transmit and receive pairs properly paired.
  • Reversing a pair can cause connectivity issues and reduced performance.
  • Crossing pairs can cause complete loss of connectivity.
  • Color order matters for any structured cabling expected to perform at Ethernet speeds.
  • Color order may not matter for short patch cables not part of structured cabling.
  • When in doubt, adhere to the TIA/EIA-568 standard color order.

TIA/EIA-568 Color Order Standard

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) have jointly published standards that define the proper color order for eight-conductor Ethernet cables terminated with RJ45 connectors. This standard is known as TIA/EIA-568, and the most widely adopted color order under this standard is:

  1. White/Orange
  2. Orange
  3. White/Green
  4. Blue
  5. White/Blue
  6. Green
  7. White/Brown
  8. Brown

Following this standard color order ensures that the four twisted pairs in Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a Ethernet cable are terminated properly. The white/orange pair makes up pair 1, orange makes up pair 2, white/green is pair 3, and blue is pair 4. Pairs 2 and 3 are not interchangeable under the standard.

Why Color Order Matters for Ethernet

Ethernet relies on twisted pairs of wires to transmit and receive data. Each pair consists of two wires twisted together in order to reduce electromagnetic interference. For Ethernet to work properly, the transmit and receive pairs must be properly paired up.

If the color order is reversed, then the pairs will be crossed, and the transmitted signal on one end will be received at the wrong pin on the other end. The cable will still work physically, but Ethernet communication can be significantly degraded or fail entirely in this scenario.

Similarly, if the pairs are split up and mixed between different pins, the cable is said to have split pairs. This can degrade performance or cause complete connection failures.

Following the standard color order avoids crossed or split pairs and keeps the cable’s transmit and receive pairs properly configured end-to-end.

When Color Order Doesn’t Matter

While the TIA/EIA-568 standard should generally be followed, there are some exceptions where color order may not necessarily matter:

  • Very short patch cables under 3 feet may sometimes work fine even with crossed pairs due to the shorter distances.
  • Cables used solely for voice communications do not always require following Ethernet color order standards.
  • Some proprietary networking protocols other than Ethernet may not require following the standard color order.
  • Cables that do not split or cross pairs but simply rearrange the order of pairs may potentially still work.

However, reversing the color order of longer structured cabling runs between wall jacks and patch panels can cause issues with Ethernet communication. The standard should always be followed in these cases.

When in doubt, it’s best to adhere to the standard color order. Doing so guarantees Ethernet connectivity and performance.

What About 10/100 Mbps Ethernet Color Order?

Early versions of 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX Ethernet only required two pairs rather than four. Under these standards, pins 1, 2, 3, and 6 were the only ones used. The color order was:

  1. White/Green
  2. Green
  3. White/Orange
  4. Blue

This is not the same order as the first four pairs in the modern Ethernet standard. While these older two-pair standards are still sometimes seen in legacy cabling, any new structured cabling deployments should always use the four-pair TIA/EIA-568 order for future compatibility.

How to Remember the Color Order

To remember the proper eight-position RJ45 color order, mnemonic phrases are often used:

  • “White Orange, Orange, White Green, Blue, White Blue, Green, White Brown, Brown”
  • “Walk Over Oily Grass But Watch Out Not To Slip”

You can remember which pairs are transmit vs receive based on the first letter of the color:

  • White/Orange and Orange are TX (Transmit) on Pair 1
  • Green and White/Green are RX (Receive) on Pair 1
  • White/Blue and Blue are TX on Pair 2
  • White/Brown and Brown are RX on Pair 2

Keeping these phrases and acronyms in mind will help remember the proper color order.

How to Wire an RJ45 Using the Standard

Wiring an RJ45 connector using the TIA/EIA-568B standard color order is straightforward:

  1. Hold the RJ45 connector with the clip facing down.
  2. Extend all wires to the front with the jacket stripped off.
  3. Arrange the wires based on the standard order from left to right.
  4. Trim the wires so they sit flush in the connector.
  5. Punch down each wire into its corresponding pin slot.
  6. Slide the connector top piece on and crimp using a crimping tool.
  7. Test connectivity and performance.

Following this wiring order correctly will ensure the transmit and receive pairs are configured optimally for Ethernet connectivity.


In most cases, RJ45 color order matters and cables should follow the TIA/EIA-568 standard. This prevents crossed or split pairs that lead to connectivity issues or degraded performance. The exceptions are mainly short patch cords or non-Ethernet protocols. When wiring structured cable runs, adhering strictly to the standard is recommended. Keeping the color order correct ensures reliable Ethernet communication over twisted pair cable.