If you want to look polished, then you have no other choice but to customize your visualization’s color palette. Don’t worry–customizing your colors is an easy low-hanging-fruit edit. Locate your style guide, scroll down to the color section, and decode the jargon. If you don’t have a style guide, or can’t find it, identify your color codes with an eyedropper or with Paint.
Then, enter your color codes in Excel!
Build your graph. Here’s a histogram that displays how many people fell into each age range. The default graph has Microsoft’s blue.
Declutter that cluttered graph. Delete the border, grid lines, title, and vertical axis. Label the columns directly. Nudge the columns closer together.
Now it’s time to customize the color. Click on the bar, line, or pie wedge that you want to adjust. Can you see that the columns are selected?
Go to Chart Tools, then Format, and then Shape Outline (line graphs) or Shape Fill (all other types of graphs, like this one). Ignore the default colors! Go to the bottom where it says More Fill Colors.
On the pop-up window, click on the Custom tab.
Enter your RGB code. RGB stands for red, green, and blue. This is the recipe of reds, greens, and blues that get mixed together to produce your exact shade.
I used 120, 29, 125, which is the exact shade of purple from a client’s logo. Now I can quickly customize other pieces of the graph, like the numeric labels, because that purple is already stored under Recent Colors.
With just a few clicks, custom colors reinforce branding and make you look professional.