The physical and electronic properties of ultrathin two-dimensional (2D) layered nanomaterials are highly related to their thickness. Therefore, the rapid and accurate identification of single- and few- to multi-layer nanosheets is essential to their fundamental study and practical applications. Here, a universal optical method has been developed for simple, rapid and reliable identification of single- to quindecuple-layer (1L-15L) 2D nanosheets, including graphene, MoS2, WSe2 and TaS2, on Si substrates coated with 90 nm or 300 nm SiO2. The optical contrast differences between the substrates and 2D nanosheets with different layer numbers were collected and tabulated, serving as a standard reference, from which the layer number of a given nanosheet can be readily and reliably determined without using complex calculation nor expensive instrument. Our general optical identification method will facilitate the thickness-dependent study of various 2D nanomaterials, and expedite their research toward practical applications.