Ribbon bar

A purple rectangle with thin white edges
The Purple Heart's service ribbon (to scale)

A service ribbon, medal ribbon, or ribbon bar is a small ribbon, mounted on a small metal bar equipped with an attaching device, which is generally issued for wear in place of a medal when it is not appropriate to wear the actual medal.[1] Each country's government has its own rules on what ribbons can be worn in what circumstances, and in which order. This is usually defined in an official document and is called "the order of precedence" or "the order of wearing". In some countries (particularly in North America and Israel), some awards are "ribbon only", having no associated medal.


According to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the U.S. military's standard size for a ribbon bar is 1 3/8 in (35mm) wide, 3/8 inches tall (9.525mm), with a thickness of 0.8mm.[2]

The service ribbon for a specific medal is usually identical to the suspension ribbon on the medal. For example, the suspension and service ribbon for the U.S. government's Purple Heart medal is purple with a white vertical stripe at each end (see Photo).

However, there are some military awards that do not have a suspension ribbon, but have an authorized ribbon and unit award emblem. The Soviet Order of Victory is a badge that was worn on the military parade uniform. However, a ribbon bar representing the Order of Victory was worn on a military field uniform.


Ribbon bars come in a variety of colors. In the case of the U.S. military, it maintains a specific list of colors used on its ribbons, based on the Pantone Matching System and Federal Standard 595 color systems:

Colors used on U.S. military ribbons[3]
Name[3] Color[3] RGB value[3]
Air Force Yellow ______________ 255,205,0
Apple Red ______________ 213,0,50
Army Green (Uniform) ______________ 40,71,52
Aspic Green ______________ 191,184,0
Black ______________ 0,0,0
Blue HQ ______________ 183,201,211
Blue HX ______________ 12,35,64
Blue Turquoise ______________ 104,210,223
Bluebird ______________ 123,175,212
Bottle Green ______________ 17,87,64
Brick Red ______________ 134,38,51
Brittany Blue ______________ 163,199,210
Bronze ______________ 139,111,78
Brown ______________ 96,61,32
Buff ______________ 185,151,91
Burnt Orange ______________ 227,82,5
Cannes Blue ______________ 123,175,212
Cardinal Red ______________ 186,12,47
Chamois ______________ 242,199,92
Cobalt Blue ______________ 0,32,91
Corsaire Blue ______________ 0,45,114
Crimson ______________ 165,0,80
Dark Blue ______________ 0,38,58
Eggshell ______________ 221,203,164
Emerald ______________ 100,167,11
Flag Blue ______________ 4,30,66
Flame Red ______________ 255,88,93
Forget-Me-Not Blue ______________ 154,219,232
Garnet ______________ 111,38,61
Gherkin Green ______________ 74,119,41
Gold ______________ 133,113,77
Gold Brown ______________ 184,97,37
Golden Orange ______________ 255,158,27
Golden Yellow ______________ 255,205,0
Goldenlight ______________ 255,198,88
Graphite Blue ______________ 0,38,58
Grebe Gray ______________ 84,88,90
Green ______________ 33,87,50
Grotto Blue ______________ 0,193,213
Imperial Blue ______________ 0,61,165
Imperial Purple ______________ 152,29,151
Irish Green ______________ 0,132,61
Ivory ______________ 255,255,255
Jasmine ______________ 253,210,110
Khaki ______________ 176,170,126
Lemon Yellow ______________ 251,221,64
Light Blue ______________ 91,127,149
Light Green ______________ 146,172,160
MC Antique White ______________ 233,223,151
Mahogany ______________ 127,48,53
Marine Corps Scarlet ______________ 228,0,43
Maroon ______________ 87,41,50
Midnight Blue ______________ 0,38,58
Mintleaf ______________ 164,214,94
Mosstone Green ______________ 122,154,1
Myrtle Green ______________ 0,122,51
Natural ______________ 202,199,167
Navy Blue #1 ______________ 4,30,66
Navy Blue #2 ______________ 4,30,66
Nugget Gold ______________ 255,209,0
Old Blue ______________ 162,170,173
Old China Blue ______________ 123,175,212
Old Glory Blue ______________ 1,33,105
Old Glory Red ______________ 186,12,47
Old Gold ______________ 132,117,78
Olive ______________ 78,91,49
Olive Drab ______________ 105,91,36
Orange ______________ 252,76,2
Oriental Blue ______________ 0,114,206
Oriole Orange ______________ 229,114,0
Ostende Blue ______________ 123,175,212
Paprica ______________ 250,70,22
Parrot Blue ______________ 136,219,223
Peacock Blue ______________ 0,146,188
Primitive Green ______________ 0,154,68
Prophet Green ______________ 67,176,42
Purple ______________ 95,37,159
Putty ______________ 178,168,162
Rally Red ______________ 111,38,61
River Blue ______________ 0,111,98
Scarlet ______________ 186,12,47
Silver Gray ______________ 158,162,162
Smoke ______________ 84,88,90
Soldier Red ______________ 111,38,61
Spicebrown ______________ 115,56,29
Spring Green ______________ 197,232,108
Spruce Green ______________ 0,76,69
Star Yellow ______________ 253,218,36
Steel ______________ 124,135,142
Tarragon Green ______________ 137,144,100
Teal Blue ______________ 0,62,81
Terra Cotta ______________ 150,56,33
Toast ______________ 155,90,26
Ultramarine Blue ______________ 0,20,137
Victory Medal Blue #1 ______________ 0,75,135
Victory Medal Blue #2 ______________ 0,75,135
White ______________ 255,255,255
Yale Blue ______________ 0,114,206
Yellow ______________ 255,199,44


There is a variety of constructions of service ribbons. In some countries, service ribbons are mounted on a "pin backing", which can be pushed through the fabric of a uniform and secured, with fasteners, on the inside edge. These ribbons can be individually secured and then lined up, or they can be all mounted on to a single fastener. After the Second World War, it was common for all ribbons to be mounted on a single metal bar and worn in a manner similar to a brooch. Other methods of wearing have included physically sewing each service ribbon onto the uniform garments.


"Orders of wearing" define which ribbons may be worn on which types of uniform in which positions under which circumstances. For example, miniature medals on dinner dress, full medals on parade dress, ribbons on dress shirts, but no decorations on combat dress and working clothing. Some countries (such as Cuba) maintain a standard practice of wearing full service ribbons on combat utility clothing. Others strictly prohibit this. These regulations are generally similar to the regulations regarding display of rank insignia, and regulations regarding saluting of more senior ranks. The reasoning for such regulations is due to these displays enable opposing forces to easily identify persons of higher ranking, and therefore aiding them in choosing targets which will have a larger impact on the battlefield. In times of war, it is not uncommon for commanders and other high value individuals to wear no markings on their uniforms, and wear clothing and insignia of a lower ranking soldier.

Service medals and ribbons are generally worn in rows on the left side of the chest. In certain commemorative and/ or memorial circumstances, a relative may wear the medals or ribbons of a dead relative on the right side of the chest. Medals and ribbons not specifically mentioned in the "Order of wear" are also generally worn on the right side of the chest. Sequencing of the ribbons depends on each country's regulations. In the United States, for example, those with the highest status—typically awarded for heroism or distinguished service—are placed at the top of the display, while foreign decorations (when allowed) are last in the bottom rows. When medals are worn (typically on the left side of a shirt or jacket), ribbons with no corresponding medals are worn on the right side.


The study, history and collection of ribbons, among other military decorations, is known as phaleristics (sometimes spelled faleristics by users of U.S. English).

Notable examples[]


Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Korea Medal.svg
United Nations Service Medal Korea ribbon.svg General Service Medal 1962 BAR.svg Vietnam Medal ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Centenary Medal (Australia) ribbon.png
DFSM with Rosette x 2.png National Medal (Australia) ribbon.jpg Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Meritorious Service Medal (UK).png
Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct - Army (UK) ribbon.png Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg Silver Star Medal ribbon.svg Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star (South Vietnam).png
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg General Service Medal (Oman).png Endurance Medal (Al-Sumood) (Oman).png Pingat Jasa Malaysia ribbon.png
OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png
Military Cross ribbon.png Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Vietnam Medal ribbon.png
Australian Active Service Medal ribbon.png INTERFET Medal ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png Centenary Medal (Australia) ribbon.png
DFSM with Fed Star.png National Medal (Australia) ribbon.jpg Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg
New Zealand Order of Merit ribbon.png US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png Tong-il Medal (South Korea) ribbon.png Legion Honneur Officier ribbon.svg
PRT Order of Prince Henry - Grand Cross BAR.png Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) ribbon.png Order of Timor-Leste.png Order of St. Gregory the Great.png


DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png DK Haederstegn for god tjeneste.pngRESOFF ASS R.png
DKFredsprismedalje Ribbon.pngOrdre national du Merite GO ribbon.svgEST Order of the Cross of the Eagle 1st Class BAR.pngUS Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png
Comm Medal for Adv Lv Mem NATO.pngUNFICYP Medal bar.svgONZ Medal w Służbie Pokoju UNPROFOR BAR.svgVierdaagse Medal Bar.png




DEU EK 2Kl 1939Clasp BAR.svg D-PRU Royal Hohenzollern Order swords war-ribbon BAR.svg Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen (Hesse) - ribbon bar.png Friedrich-August Cross - military (Oldenburg) - ribbon bar.png

D-SAX Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden BAR.svg Hanseatic Cross from Bremen ribbon bar.png AUT KuK Kriegsbande BAR.svg DEU Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges Frontkaempfer BAR.svg

D-HAN-B-Order Henry Lion BAR.png Wehrmacht Long Service Award ribbon.png Anschluss Medal Bar.PNG Memel Medal Bar.PNG

United Kingdom[]

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (incomplete)

Order of the Garter UK ribbon.png Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png Order of Merit (Commonwealth realms) ribbon.png Ord.Stella.India.jpg

Order of the Indian Empire Ribbon.svg Royal Victorian Order ribbon sm.jpg Dso-ribbon.png VOStJ ribbon.png

British War Medal BAR.svg World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg 39-45 Star BAR.svg Atlantic Star BAR.svg

Africa Star BAR.svg Burma Star BAR.svg Italy Star BAR.svg Defence Medal BAR.svg

War Medal 39-45 BAR.svg Naval General Service Medal 1915 BAR.svg King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png

GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png ElizabethIICoronationRibbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Indian Independence medal 1947.svg

U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg US Legion of Merit Chief Commander ribbon.png Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Greek War Cross 1940 3rd class ribbon.png

Order of George I Silver Cross ribbon.PNG Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg

Order of the Cloud and Banner 1st.gif PRT Military Order of Aviz - Grand Cross BAR.png Ord.Neth.Lion.jpg Most Refulgent Order of the Star of Nepal.PNG

POL Polonia Restituta Kawalerski BAR.svg DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png Star of Romania Ribbon.PNG ESP Isabella Catholic Order GC.svg

United States[]

Dick Marcinko's ribbon rack.png



Manekshaw Ribbons.png

See also[]


  1. ^ U.S. Army Regulation 600-8-22, 2006, P. 72&73, 6--2 Service ribbons, a.
  2. ^ Defense Logistics Agency (2015). "MIL-DTL-11589". Defense Logistics Agency.
  3. ^ a b c d "COLOR CONVERSION LIST-8/14/95". Archived from the original on January 12, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2018.

External links[]