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Color Palette for Data Viz

Color Palette for Data Viz


This is an ongoing exploration, color palettes for data visualization. This one is currently my favorite.

“…avoiding catastrophe becomes the first principle in bringing color to information: Above all, do no harm.”

– Edward Tufte

Color gives a design personality. Color used well can enhance and clarify. Color used poorly will obscure, muddle and confuse. While there is a strong visual component to color, using color well in information design is essentially about function: what information you are trying to convey, and how (or if) color can enhance it. The most important use of color in information design is to distinguish one element from another, a function Edward Tufte calls “to label.”

In most design situations, the best results are achieved by limiting hue to a palette of two or three colors, and using hue and saturation variations within these hues to create distinguishably different colors. Such a palette is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. It minimizes an over-dependence on hue variation (which can cause visual clutter), and replaces it with careful control of value and saturation.

This palette is optimized for data, i.e. using a limited set of base hues and building tints and shades from these hues, creating a harmonious palette similar in value and saturations. While the color palette will provide a harmonious foundation for data visualization, it will also serve as a palette for the entire product design.