10 thoughts on “Black & White Charts”

  1. To color or not to color… another fundamental question when designing graph.
    I do agree that black & white is an interesting option has it allow for minimum fuzz and should prevent the adoption of inappropriate default themes and color option.

    Opting to use grey for all non essential data series allows the use of black to single out one data series in particular. Using thickness can also enhance precognitive identification and facilitate visual comparison.

    As to why and how we should use color (taking into consideration that a small portion of the population is colorblind) in would recommend have a look at Cindy Brewers “Color Brewer”. She describes the use of color to carry information on different scales (Binary / Ordinal / Sequential / Diverging).

    On top of this, we could also consider the notion of creating a balanced color palette.

    With all this in mind, one has to devote enough time to try different schemes and identify the most appropriate and efficient graphs color options.

  2. @Rene: Let’s say this is not a post, just a quick reminder of what the day is today. Normal program will resume in a few moments…

  3. @Bernard: Great comment, thanks. Color should be used functionally and perhaps symbolically, not to prettify. That’s not always possible, but it should be our goal.

  4. @Ivan: Doesn’t have to be black and white. You can use several shades of gray, and that’s a good start.

  5. I see this post hasn’t been active in a while but I try anyway… Do you know if there is a possibility to make the an excel line graph default solid black lines on white background? I have over 200 lines in my graph so to sit and click on each one to change from the default rainbow palette with and without dotted lines feels just stupid and time consuming… Not to mention that I probably have to change things a few times and have to do the whole procedure again! Frustration at maximum!

  6. Marit: that’s what VBA if for! I just recorded this macro:

    Sub Macro1()

    For i = 1 To 4
    ActiveSheet.ChartObjects("Chart 1").Activate
    With Selection.Border
    .ColorIndex = 1
    .Weight = xlMedium
    .LineStyle = xlContinuous
    End With
    With Selection
    .MarkerBackgroundColorIndex = xlNone
    .MarkerForegroundColorIndex = xlNone
    .MarkerStyle = xlNone
    .Smooth = False
    .MarkerSize = 3
    .Shadow = False
    End With

    Next i
    End Sub

    Then I added the loop For… Next. Instead of 4, use the number of series you have (200?). I changed line style to .LineStyle = xlContinuous but you can remove that line of code.

    So, go to Tools / Macros / Visual Basic Editor. Then Insert/Module and copy this macro. Change the chart name if you have to.

    Hope this helps…

  7. Hi Jorge!
    Thank you! This seems like the correct track… But I get some bug errors (Run-time error 1004, Unable to get ChartObjects property of the Chart class). And when I choose debug, the line starting with ActiveSheet is highlighted.
    The chart type is “4-xLine” and it runs in columns not in rows (from B to CX) and with 2600 lines. So I changed the first lines to:

    For i = B To CX (Which runs fine apparently)

    But as this is the first time I use macros I’m at a loss for what to change to fix the problem. Can you help??

    Thanks a lot!

  8. so how does one find black and what chart bar options for excel that can be used in a publication rather than pretty colors for a ppt presentation

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