CHAPTER 9 Effective Use of Color

Most of the chart examples used in this book include color to help bring a topic to life, draw your attention, highlight specific insights, or evoke emotion. Using color in data visualization is an effective way to better communicate your message and to make your work more impactful.

In this chapter, you will learn best practices for using color in data visualization. More specifically, this chapter will help you understand how you can use color to:

  • Evoke emotions
  • Create associations
  • Highlight key findings and data points

The Significance of Color in Data Visualization

Color has long been used to communicate information and convey emotions. Color theory1 became a topic through the work of Leone Battista Alberti and Leonardo Da Vinci in the fifteenth century before being formalized through Isaac Newton’s theory of color in 1704. We can acknowledge that the concepts introduced by these influencers informed many of the ways we think about color today.

Color is used to influence people in advertisements and product packaging, and to capture their attention through various channels. In data visualization, you can utilize the research on the effectiveness of color to help influence the processing and understanding of information.

How Color Is Used to Tell Stories

Children’s books use color in storytelling. There are lush green meadows where cows graze, while a dog runs after a butterfly. It is a colorful display to draw children into the story ...

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