How to Identify Positive or Negative Wire Markings on a Black & White Stripe

By James Clark

Wire markings, especially for electronic equipment, are typically color coded to designate the positive and negative polarity. It is important to connect the wires so the positive wire is attached to the positive terminals on each end of the connection and negative to negative. Crossing the wires reverses the polarity of audio signals in stereo components such as loudspeakers and may cause a short circuit. If your equipment uses a black-and-white stripe with a connector on each end, just remember a simple rule to connect them correctly every time.

Step 1

Turn off the power to and unplug the devices you need to connect.

Step 2

Turn the component, such as a speaker, around to locate the two connection terminals. Black is the negative terminal. The other terminal, typically white or red, is positive.

Step 3

Connect the black side of the stripe to the negative terminals on each end of the connection and the white stripe to the positive terminals.

Step 4

Connect multicolor stripes to the same terminals on each end. For example, if you have a cable with a black-and-white-striped wire as well as a solid-color wire, connect the black-and-white-striped wire to the negative terminal at each end and the solid-color wire to the positive terminals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not plug in power cords or turn on the equipment until the wire connections are complete. This prevents a possible short circuit if a wire is accidentally crossed while connecting components.