At first, we were limited by Microsoft’s color palette of Chart Styles in Excel. All three of us had agreed on a blue-red-green style because the Student Survey I was working on had 3 columns of data to compare (VCU 2013, VCU 2014 and National Average 2014). Once we uploaded all the images from the 2 surveys, the colors looked pretty dismal on the web. Tom Woodward, my supervisor, suggested we google for some “awesome color palettes for websites” to replace the hideous-looking charts.
A google search led us to the Betterment site with a collection of web color palettes. The palette for us had to allow for high contrast and yet be aesthetically pleasing. #42 – Adam Hartwig‘s palette it is. Thank you, Mr. Hartwig! [Note: He has a pretty awesome website himself, check it out.]
Creating a Palette in Excel (Mac computer)
I had no idea how to insert Hartwig’s palette into Excel’s color charts. As far as I could recall, Excel had no option for a user to enter hexadecimal web color codes. Once again, Tom came to the rescue.
On an iMac, double-clicking on the chart area opens up a Format Plot Area window. From there, select Fill > click on the drop-down menu besides Automatic > select More Colors.
|Format Chart Area Window|
Make sure you are then on the Color wheel tab (see image below). See the Magnifier icon beside the white color box? Click on it and it turns into a color dropper.
|Selecting the Correct Color|
I had Hartwig’s color palette open just beside the color wheel window. I clicked on all 5 colors and they showed up right away on the white little swatch boxes below the color wheel.
|Hartwig’s Color Palette Shows on My Color Swatch boxes!|
Back to my Excel charts with this color palette. At first, I thought this arrangement looked okay, but after applying it to the existing charts, it began to look a bit too bubble-gummy and jaundiced-looking. Especially if I just had 2 columns of data – VCU 2014 and National Average 2014 to compare (yellow and green; yellow and green, … yuk!). I couldn’t tolerate it too long and didn’t know how anyone else could.
|Pink-Yellow-Green Color Selection|
So after I had reformatted all the charts to the pink-yellow-green palette, I decided to switch it to another color arrangement – green, turquoise, black. It seemed to look more professional.
|Green-Turquoise-Black Color Selection|
How could I change all 70-something charts to the same color palette efficiently? The solution is to save my preferred Chart Style as a template. This option is available under the Chart > Other (Chart Type) menu. Click on the dropdown menu > Scroll to the bottom. See the Save as Template phrase?
|Creating a Chart Template in Excel|
Even though I was a research assistant in grad school and processed much survey data, I had not once thought of how the chart colors might look set against an entire website. This perspective is new to me. I’m happy to learn time-saving ways to speed up the work process. Thanks Tom and Adam Hartwig!