Chapter 1

Controlling Color

Some colors reconcile themselves to one another. Others just clash.” —Edvard Munch


If you have time to focus on improving only one thing in your charts, go after color. Most software can’t intuit a good use of color for your context. It can’t know how you want to group variables—which are primary and which are secondary, which are complementary and which are contrasting. Thus software tends to give every variable its own, somewhat randomly assigned color. Taken to an illogical extreme, your first output may be a mess of a rainbow like the above chart.

That’s no good. Our eyes’ ability to differentiate and remember ...

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