Be Consistent. Be Careful with Color
Use the same font, colors and alignment
throughout your presentation. Using a single color on your graph is
usually the best practice for presenting
data, so people can see the shape of the
data without distraction. (Grays are a good
Use Clear and Minimal Text.
Focus on the figure first and the text
second, with only enough text to clarify
the graphical elements.
Color can be a useful tool in visually
conveying your data’s story – when used
• Title: Include a simple, easily
understood title in the title slot or in
the graph itself.
• Show intensity/volume with a color
gradient. Using gradations of a single
color tells readers that the data is
growing bigger as the color darkens.
• Data labels: Directly label elements so
they can be identified and understood
quickly. Do not use a legend, as it can
be difficult to see and disadvantages
people with limited color vision.
• Use a pop of color for emphasis.
Highlight key findings with a bold
color, keeping the others muted and
• Make the most important text
Allow Your Audience to Focus on Key
• Remove extraneous elements: 3D bars,
grid lines, tick marks, beveling, fancy
• Avoid boxes and arrows. Instead, use
a pop of color to make key elements
stand out against more monochrome/
muted data, or use animation to
gradually add elements while reducing
the color in other areas of the graph.
• Ensure colors are of similar intensity.
If you need to use multiple colors,
as in a line graph, select colors of
similar intensity. Otherwise, you
may unintentionally give some data
more weight, which can lead to
Avoid Additional Formatting
• Limit the number of points to five per
slide (three is better).
• Limit the amount of text on a slide.
Use phrases with key words, not
sentences, and avoid sub-bullets if
• Don’t place text over photos.
• Don’t paste a copy of a graph into a
slide. Copies are hard to see and will be
inconsistent with other graphs in your
presentation. Take a few minutes to
make a version of the original.
“I know you can’t see this but”
If a graph or chart will not be visible from
the back of a darkened conference room,
eliminate it! n
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Winter 2020 LAB MATTERS