Data Visualization Toolkit: Color Resources & Tools

Color Resources

Applying Colors and Themes in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint


Microsoft Office and many other products use the RGB (red-green-blue) color model to create a vast array of colors across the spectrum. RGB is an additive color model; that is, the three colors are added together in different proportions to produce different colors. The tools detailed below provide you with RGB codes that have three numbers: The first is the amount of red in the color, the second is the amount of green, and the third is the amount of blue.

See CMYK or cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black) color schemes

Some programs use the CMYK or cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black) color schemes or HEX numbers (HEX is short for hexadecimal and refers to the six-digit number schemes to name colors). Is one better than the other? No. For all intents and purposes, the different numbers represent the same hue using different color models. In most cases numbers (i.e., colors) from one model are interchangeable with those from another. To quickly convert between HEX and RGB, use the HEX to RGB Converter tool.

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Microsoft has several sets of themes, or sets, of formatting choices. It offers themes for colors, fonts (including heading and body text fonts), and effects (including lines and fill effects). Themes allow you set a style for your document.

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Color Tools

ColorBrewer2.0 is designed for choosing colors primarily for maps but the color schemes can be used for charts and other multicolor data displays as well. The tool gives you the specs for each color so that you can apply the color schemes in the program you are using to create your display.

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The Adobe Color tool allows you to view the spectrum of color schemes. You can either choose from one of the many schemes posted or create your own to match a specific picture or logo. To create and save your own color schemes, you need to set up a free Adobe account through the site.

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Published December 2022.