Choosing Your Color Story

color datastory May 13, 2021

Choosing colors for a data story can often be difficult. For some, it’s hard to switch over to the creative side of your brain after organizing large amounts of data. Today, we wanted to help you out with that.


The first thing I want to say is when you are ready to choose your data story color scheme, it’s best to choose a background color and have a contrasting color scheme for your visuals and text. With contrast, your audience will be able to clearly see the visuals you’ve prepared for them without straining their eyes, which in turn eliminates the need for questions that could have been avoided. 

A good way to start off is to follow these two major rules:

  • Dark backgrounds pair well with lighter text and bright accent colors.
  • Light backgrounds pair well with dark text and bolder accent colors.



A great second step is to remember color combinations to avoid:

  • Red & Blue
    • Why? - These two colors, while very different, do not have enough contrast and tend to cause the eyes to strain.
  • Red & Green
    • Why? - Christmas anyone? They are incredibly clashing colors AND pose a potential disappearing effect for anyone that has color deficiency in their vision.
  • Blue & Orange
    • Why? - These colors actually compliment each other but do not contrast enough for viewers to have a crisp distinction between where one word ends and the other begins.

ALWAYS keep in mind that if you are having even the smallest amount of trouble reading what you are including in your presentation, expect it to be 1000 times worse on a screen for viewers or on a projector.



Now, to discuss the colors we love to see in data stories! 

  • Mixing Warm Colors:
    • It’s always safe to use color groups by the tone they give off. Warmer colors (such as yellow, orange, and red) mix very well with each other and as accent colors for shades of brown.
  • Mixing Cool Colors:
    • Just as with warm colors, mixing cool colors is another way to wow your audience! Colors like green, purple, and blue all look great with each other OR with shades of gray.
  • White, Beige, Black
    • These colors can mix well with both of the above mentioned color groups!



Lastly, we’re going to talk to you about how these colors could make your audience feel. It may seem a little silly, but every color can have a meaning and a lot of them either pair directly with something good or something bad. We’re going to share a little chart with you (pictured above) that will hopefully help you choose some of the vibes you’d like to give to your audience during your next data story!




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