Data Visualisation Colour Palette

Below is my go-to colour palette for use in Data Visualisation, specifically for standard category dimensions. Feel free to use this in your own work or open it in Coolors and edit it with your own colours.

In creating a colour palette like this one, there are certain aspects I always consider:

  • Choose colours that go with each other but are easily distinguished
  • Choose relatively bold colours and avoid grey, which I save for ‘other’ or missing values
  • Use mid-range colours which show clearly against a white or black background
  • Avoid pure green and red and save these for something that is good or bad
  • Alternate dark and light shades for a smooth flow

To create this colour palette, I started with a particular blue colour code that Intuita use in its in-house Data DQ software. I then chose 4 other colours of a similar shade but different hues (teal, orange, pink, purple) and then created a lighter version of each. This isn’t a strict rule – often I will chose 4 main hues with 2 or 3 varying shades.

One of the first things I do when working on a new client is create a similar palette customised for their own branded colours. This ensures a good level of consistency in all reporting I deliver. Prioritise the points above rather than sticking solely to colours provided by the client. Often companies have a red (or even green) logo which I will still avoid in visualisations.

See below for examples where I have done this for clients (see if you can guess who they are!). And also my go-to RAG palettes – a bold one for text/icons against a white background and a light one for background to black text.