Data Visualization Toolkit: Color Data Considerations

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Color is critical in displaying data. It can be used to grab the viewer’s attention, and strategic use of color ensures the viewer concentrates on key information. Color also helps in retention because it evokes emotions and links the viewer to memories. Therefore, color choices should always be intentional.

Color Data Considerations

  • Add color to communicate a specific takeaway or draw attention to the main point (Figure 3). Use bright colors for the most important data and muted colors for less important data.
  • Use different colors to correspond to differences in the data or to group like data (Figure 4). In contrast, Figure 5 uses color at random and the colors serve no purpose in enhancing understanding.
  • Make sure that your use of color is purposeful by using logical color associations that highlight the point of the data (e.g., orange is a inviting color that depicts movement or energy without being as overwhelming or stimulating as red). See Visually’s infographic on color psychology for more ideas.

Figure 3: Most important data point is highlighted

Figure 3: Most important data point is highlighted

Figure 4: Color highlights the negative vs. positive growth

Figure 4: Color highlights the negative vs. positive growth

Figure 5: Color serves no purpose
in this chart

Figure 5: Color serves no purpose in this chart