Use of color in charts

Colors can be effective tool to help readers quickly discern the key insights in charts. Often, however, we simply use default colors or our company color scheme when building charts and don’t take the time to understand the impact of our selection. Here are a few simple rules you many want to consider when building your next chart:

  • Don’t use colors when they are not necessary. Colors should only be used if they add information to the chart and not just for visual appeal. In the examples below, you’ll notice that colors in 1. add no information over 2. and could simply confuse the reader.
    Unecessary colors in column chart
  • Test your colors on your presentation medium. Colors can look different on different screens, projectors and printers. The safest method is to test that your colors work before presenting.
  • Consider your audience when using colors. A surprising 7-10% of males suffer from Red-Green color blindness (the rate 0.5-1% in women). If an important member in your audience has some type of color blindness consider adding redundant labels to ensure they can effectively read the chart. Charts 1., 2., 3. highlight three ways that Aploris lets you label colors on a chart.
    Options for displaying series names

The science of choosing colors is quite detailed with a variety of studies. We are planning to tackle this issue in upcoming sessions.

Aploris charts default to the color scheme set in PowerPoint. However, colors can easily be edited and Aploris can also be set to use customized schemes.

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