Issue 7019 - more pretty default colors
Summary: more pretty default colors
Alias: None
Product: General
Classification: Code
Component: chart (show other issues)
Version: 3.3.0 or older (OOo)
Hardware: All All
: P3 Trivial (vote)
Target Milestone: ---
Assignee: kla
QA Contact: issues@graphics
Keywords: rfe_eval_ok, usability
Depends on:
Blocks: 67785
  Show dependency tree
Reported: 2002-08-15 19:45 UTC by lars
Modified: 2013-02-24 21:20 UTC (History)
10 users (show)

See Also:
Latest Confirmation in: ---
Developer Difficulty: ---

beautiful color circle with 12 colors (16.61 KB, image/png)
2006-12-11 10:33 UTC, gleppert
no flags Details
the tango palette (64.30 KB, image/png)
2006-12-11 11:55 UTC, pagalmes.lists
no flags Details
Chart default palette from the early chart2-days. Just copy as "user-dir"/user/registry/data/org/openoffice/Office/Chart.xcu (456 bytes, text/xml)
2006-12-11 13:17 UTC, bjoern.milcke
no flags Details
Another chart palette (450 bytes, text/xml)
2006-12-11 13:18 UTC, bjoern.milcke
no flags Details
And a third one with nice colors :-) (451 bytes, text/xml)
2006-12-11 13:19 UTC, bjoern.milcke
no flags Details
Tango colors ( (1.25 KB, text/xml)
2006-12-11 23:23 UTC, jimmac
no flags Details
Color circle Ilten (471 bytes, text/plain)
2006-12-12 09:34 UTC, gleppert
no flags Details
Sample charts for Color circle Ilten (39.96 KB, application/pdf)
2006-12-12 09:35 UTC, gleppert
no flags Details
Sample charts for Color circle 2 (37.45 KB, application/pdf)
2006-12-12 09:35 UTC, gleppert
no flags Details
Sample charts for Color circle 3 (36.32 KB, application/pdf)
2006-12-12 09:36 UTC, gleppert
no flags Details
Sample charts for Color circle Tango (35.69 KB, application/pdf)
2006-12-12 17:14 UTC, gleppert
no flags Details
Some tries about colors, by obi (74.04 KB, image/png)
2006-12-13 16:52 UTC, pagalmes.lists
no flags Details
6 color default palette from Apple iWork suite (335.97 KB, application/pdf)
2006-12-15 21:08 UTC, moxfox
no flags Details
Maureen C. Stone's writing on color use (317.89 KB, application/pdf)
2006-12-28 09:14 UTC, pagalmes.lists
no flags Details
Comparison of same colors in different charts (black and white) (15.75 KB, application/pdf)
2007-02-22 15:33 UTC, moxfox
no flags Details
EXAMPLES of Colour Schemes (574.82 KB, application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.text)
2007-03-04 22:01 UTC, discoleo
no flags Details

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Description lars 2002-08-15 19:45:18 UTC
if one doesn't have much time, one sticks with the standard color scheme, 
symbols and layout;

I think however that these aren't very pretty;

so therefore consider to "improve" these standard attributes of a newly created 
chart so that it looks better for presentation.

[Improving standard "layout" is actually a general recommendation for all parts 
where such things are "preselected"]
Comment 1 kla 2002-11-28 08:51:15 UTC
Hi Falko,
one for you.
Comment 2 falko.tesch 2003-10-08 09:30:09 UTC
Re-assigned to Matthias Müller-Prove for further evaluation.
Comment 3 matthias.mueller-prove 2003-10-08 17:42:11 UTC
to Bettina, our central dispatcher for RFEs
Comment 4 bettina.haberer 2004-11-29 18:00:00 UTC
Reassigned to Björn.
Comment 5 bjoern.milcke 2005-01-28 17:09:23 UTC
->IHA: Sending you these issues so that all unconfirmed enhancements and
features are at one place.
Comment 6 IngridvdM 2005-04-14 11:01:14 UTC
Its true that the default look of the chart needs to become more pretty and
modern. But what should be done in detail has still to be defined. Any suggestions?
Comment 7 IngridvdM 2005-04-14 11:06:26 UTC
There are some issues related to this one:
Issue 4291 is about having multiple color schemes
Issue 12581 is about making the default settings customizable
Issue 33793 is about offering templates for charts
Comment 8 IngridvdM 2006-12-08 12:29:00 UTC
added 'colors' to summary for better searching
Comment 9 IngridvdM 2006-12-08 12:36:40 UTC
Help of some color experts would be appreciated.
There are 12 colors needed.
They should be suiteable for thin lines as well as filled areas.
They should be distinguishable on black and white printers as well.
Comment 10 gleppert 2006-12-11 10:33:59 UTC
Created attachment 41318 [details]
beautiful color circle with 12 colors
Comment 11 gleppert 2006-12-11 10:35:50 UTC
The attachement shows a color circle consisting of 12 nice colors in the outside
circle. At least for my own eyes, they are very nice colors for charts :-) 
Comment 12 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-11 10:51:59 UTC
gleppert -> Nice colors :-)

Are the "requirements" satisfied :

- suiteable for thin lines as well as filled areas
- distinguishable on black and white printers as well
- Nice with 2D and 3D charts ?

Could you attach a 2D and a 3D chart example with your colors ? Thanks.
Comment 13 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-11 11:54:29 UTC
Here is a second proposal, based on the tango palette and provided by Jakub Steiner.
Comment 14 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-11 11:55:23 UTC
Created attachment 41320 [details]
the tango palette
Comment 15 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-11 12:22:10 UTC
For those wanting to try the result on OOo, here are two tips :

- For adding colors to the palette that are not by default in OOo :            
Tools > Option... > > Colors

- For changing default colors of a newly created chart :
Tools > Option... > Chart > Default Colors
Comment 16 IngridvdM 2006-12-11 13:10:17 UTC
This are the files where the information is stored:

or cvs: officecfg/registry/schema/org/openoffice/Office/Chart.xcs

Look for this line:
<value>0x9999ff 0x993366 0xffffcc 0xccffff 0x660066 0xff8080 0x0066cc 0xccccff
0x000080 0xff00ff 0x00ffff 0xffff00</value>
It contains 12 RGB default colors for the chart.
Comment 17 IngridvdM 2006-12-11 13:12:15 UTC
Please note: the colors should be easily distinguishable!!
Comment 18 bjoern.milcke 2006-12-11 13:17:32 UTC
Created attachment 41328 [details]
Chart default palette from the early chart2-days. Just copy as "user-dir"/user/registry/data/org/openoffice/Office/Chart.xcu
Comment 19 bjoern.milcke 2006-12-11 13:18:10 UTC
Created attachment 41329 [details]
Another chart palette
Comment 20 bjoern.milcke 2006-12-11 13:19:00 UTC
Created attachment 41330 [details]
And a third one with nice colors :-)
Comment 21 jimmac 2006-12-11 23:23:11 UTC
Created attachment 41349 [details]
Tango colors (
Comment 22 gleppert 2006-12-12 09:34:19 UTC
Created attachment 41354 [details]
Color circle Ilten
Comment 23 gleppert 2006-12-12 09:35:11 UTC
Created attachment 41355 [details]
Sample charts for Color circle Ilten
Comment 24 gleppert 2006-12-12 09:35:42 UTC
Created attachment 41357 [details]
Sample charts for Color circle 2
Comment 25 gleppert 2006-12-12 09:36:27 UTC
Created attachment 41358 [details]
Sample charts for Color circle 3
Comment 26 gleppert 2006-12-12 17:14:59 UTC
Created attachment 41381 [details]
Sample charts for Color circle Tango
Comment 27 nmailhot 2006-12-13 14:20:59 UTC
Of course the OO.o default palette would not matter so much if it was able to
take advantage of the palettes that already ship with major FLOSS drawing apps
(Issue 67648)

I see the Tango palette being proposed there for example - why should it be
recoded in yet another proprietary format when a reference file already exists
for the Gimp or Inkscape (don't remember which, they share their palettes on my
Comment 28 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-13 16:51:32 UTC
Another interresting comment from obi :

Choosing a color palette for OOo  is quite a tough challenge, 12 shades of gray
is a lot, 7/8 is the limit of what you can distinguish "easily". So I tried a
pragmatic approach, with shades of gray from 25% to 90%, a first row of 6 colors
sticking to 10 multiples, and a second one with multiples of 5. Then setting
saturation to 100% (assuming vibrant colors are the best to draw charts),
there's only the hue left to play with. So aesthetically speaking, it's, hum,
perfectible. Slight gradient to darker colors somehow improve the results.

Anyway, IMO, the best way to make colors stand-out on any background are
outlines (I like thick rounded outlines, but it gives a cartoonesque look which
might be inappropriate). Inverse video is also very efficient, but not always
nice to the eyes. Yet another solution is to associate two colors, one for the
fill and another one for the outline so your chances of confusion are lowered (2
hints instead of 1). Or to associate motifs to colors (stripes, bubbles, stars),
but this does not work for lines.

Anyway, here's a first try
Comment 29 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-13 16:52:42 UTC
Created attachment 41407 [details]
Some tries about colors, by obi
Comment 30 bjoern.milcke 2006-12-14 15:43:56 UTC
Added bm to CC
Comment 31 moxfox 2006-12-15 21:08:48 UTC
Created attachment 41455 [details]
6 color default palette from Apple iWork suite
Comment 32 moxfox 2006-12-15 21:15:13 UTC
I think the Tango -project's set of color represent the most cross-platform feel
to the colors. I am currently most familiar with Mac OS X, but have also used
Windows and Linux.

As previous comments have stated 12 well-combining colors is quite much,
although probably not impossible. Apple's iWork suite uses only 6 default colors
(7th uses the 1st color etc), see attachment above.

I would vote for using the Tango palette directly and then refining the 2D and
3D views of the charts to make those colors look good. Especially the 3D -view
seems to need overall increase in luminance.

This is more or less what Apple has done (see the difference in colors between
2D and 3D chart, in the attachment above).
Comment 33 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:00:49 UTC
From a post on the KDE-Usability lists, I've got an answer from Daniel J. Wilson
pointing to an interresting link:

I'm also working on chart design and have found Maureen C. Stone's  
writing on color useful:
Comment 34 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:01:24 UTC
From a post on the KDE-Usability lists, I've got an answer from Daniel J. Wilson
pointing to an interresting link:


I'm also working on chart design and have found Maureen C. Stone's  
writing on color useful:
Comment 35 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:01:46 UTC
From a post on the KDE-Usability lists, I've got an answer from Daniel J. Wilson
pointing to an interresting link:


I'm also working on chart design and have found Maureen C. Stone's  
writing on color useful:
Comment 36 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:02:43 UTC
From a post on the KDE-Usability lists, I've got an answer from Daniel J. Wilson
pointing to an interresting link. quote:

I'm also working on chart design and have found Maureen C. Stone's  
writing on color useful:
Comment 37 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:03:07 UTC
Comment 38 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:04:05 UTC
From a post on the KDE-Usability lists, I've got an answer from Daniel J. Wilson
pointing to an interresting link. quote:

I'm also working on chart design and have found Maureen C. Stone's  
writing on color useful:
Comment 39 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:07:20 UTC
From a post on the KDE-Usability lists, I've got an answer from Daniel J. Wilson
pointing to an interresting link. quote:

I'm also working on chart design and have found Maureen C. Stone's  
writing on color useful:
Comment 40 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:14:06 UTC
Created attachment 41732 [details]
Maureen C. Stone's writing on color use
Comment 41 pagalmes.lists 2006-12-28 09:16:27 UTC
Sorry for posting multiple times, there was a problem with issue tracker... Can
the duplicate comments be removed ?
Comment 42 pagalmes.lists 2007-01-12 13:13:46 UTC
Just for info, there is a palette for the new OOo Icons (Galaxy theme). This 
may be  useful. Here is the link:

BTW, there was an issue closed about a new color palette for draw where 
palettes are attached:

Issue 52162
Comment 43 lutz.hoeger 2007-02-02 16:27:15 UTC
Bjoern and I just had a conversation about this. Having a more compelling color
set for (new) charts would be good. 

However, there is one constraint: we must not decrease the current level of MS
Office interoperability, i.e. after alering the default set, the colors of any
given Excel (Version 2000-2007) chart loaded in Calc have to be as similar to
the original as they are today. This may imply, that our new default colors for
chart need to match (at least to some extent) with the old Excel chart palette...

A few more things to keep in mind: 

The new chart colors need to be available in the default office color palette,
too, so they can also be used for other charting / drawing elements. 

Looking at the current office palette, it seems likely that we need to enhance
it, in order to have a well working subset for charts. 

Enhancing the office palette by more than (I believe) 12 colors, leads to
usability problems in the color drop downs in Writer and Calc.

And last but not least: For "old" documents containing charts, users need to
have an option to switch between the new and the old chart color palette, in
order to add charts that look consistently to the existing ones.
Comment 44 IngridvdM 2007-02-02 16:53:38 UTC
->lho: I talked to the filter developer dr and he told me that there is no
hurdle with excel import or export. He knows all the colors he needs to know,
completely independent from the choice for the 12 default colors.
So that is not a problem.
Comment 45 pagalmes.lists 2007-02-21 16:21:56 UTC
chart module: Vote for the new default colors

Do you want to see the default chart colors changed? So, please, just go to that
page and vote:
Comment 46 moxfox 2007-02-22 15:33:19 UTC
Created attachment 43281 [details]
Comparison of same colors in different charts (black and white)
Comment 47 discoleo 2007-03-04 21:29:47 UTC
*CHART2: Default Colours*

"Color used well can enhance and clarify a presentation. Color used poorly will
obscure, muddle and confuse.*
     -- Maureen Stone

Unfortunately, people have difficulty learning this simple fact. I just voted
for the new default pallet to be used in Chart2, yet I was NOT very impressed by
the various pallets. The last colour scheme (number 12, blue - yellow) is
probably the better one, but even this one lacks professionalism.

*What is the problem*?

As the first quote from Maureen Stone says, *too many colors* will obscure and
confuse. Therefore I will try to expand this concept further and add some
real-life examples from professional presentations.

A few remarks are needed before expanding this issue:
I will add some examples as jpg-images to better show the reasoning for the colours.

I attach some professional charts taken from the WHO 2005 and 2006 reports. The
full reports (some 5 - 7 MB) can be downloaded from and (while for older reports see Please take a look at these
charts, they look really good.

Sometimes, charts get printed on black-white printers, or colour presentations
are copied on a black-white photocopying machine (quite often). Many
colour-schemes fail poorly in this instance due to poor contrast/luminosity
difference between 2 neighboring fields.

2.) I e-mailed a similar post to the chart mailing list. However, presumably
because I appended some jpg-images, the post never showed up.
2'.) I sent a similar e-mail (with jpg-attachements) directly to people working
for Sun (e.g. to Ingrid Halama), but got NO response either, so it was
presumably deleted as well.
2''.) this is my third attempt and I will post it as a comment to issue 7019
( I will attach the
beforementioned jpg-images to that issue, too. This is a greatly expanded review.

3.) TOC
This document will be organised as follows:
  b'. 2-3 Colours
c. PIE CHARTS and other Chart Types


Colours used in a chart should clarify the chart and NOT confuse the viewer.
Unfortunately, this is difficult when choosing many colours as they 1.) tend to
distract the viewer from the relevant information and 2.) obscure some of the
colours used. 

This is the reason why professional presentations never use more than 5
different colour groups (hue-groups). Actually, IF more groups seem to be
needed, there are 2 ways to resolve this issue:
 - either the user does NOT recognise the essentials in the chart (to *highlight
only the essential information*), or
 - (IF – rarely – the previous statement does NOT apply) use basically a *single

This will be further expanded for BAR-Charts and separately for the OTHER-Chart


Bar charts are likely to contain many groups of data. A common mistake is to
draw every BAR a different colour. This is both unnecessary and obstructs the
meaning of the bar chart.

A good colour-scheme will have to distinguish between:
B1. are there only 2 groups of data: then use of 2 oppsoing colours
(significantly different hues) is OK. Also, make the luminosity different, so
that black-white printing looks good, too.

B2. are there 3-5 groups of data: selecting 3 to 5 different colours is
feasible, BUT alternatives using only 1-2 colours are equally effective.

B3. more than 5 bars: NEVER use more than 5 colour-groups!!!

To quote Maureen Stone again:
"In most design situations, the best results are achieved by limiting hue to a
palette of two or three colors, and using hue and chroma variations within these
hues to create distinguishably different colors. Such a palette is both
aesthetically pleasing and functional. It minimizes an over-dependence on hue
variation (which can cause visual clutter), and replaces it with careful control
of value and chroma. Figure 8 shows several such palettes, and their location on
the hue wheel."
     -- Maureen Stone

There are some solutions to this problem:
 i.) do we need to highlight *SOMETHING*?
  NO => just use the same colour for every bar (*MONOCHROME*)

 ii.) IF we need to highlight 1 or 2 groups of data, apply a different colour
only to those 1-2 groups (maximum colours used = 3). IF you need to highlight
more than 3 groups, you are doing something wrong.
[in the rare situation, where a bar graph is drawn for a group of 4 or more
items repeated several times, use either monochrome, or see later for
pie-charts, BUT strong consideration should be given NOT to compare 2 or more
groups of MORE THAN 4 items each]

C. PIE CHARTS (& other chart types)
A similar reasoning applies to pie charts as for bar charts: NEVER use more than
5 colour-groups.

However, pie charts often have more data groups, therefore sometimes a different
solution is needed:
C1. 2 data groups => NEVER draw a pie chart with ONLY 2 segments (as the second
segment will always be (1 - first segment))
C2. 3-4(-5) data groups: use of 3-(5) different colour groups is possible
(though alternatives are equally effective)
C3. more than 5 data groups: this is tricky; obviously we can NOT use a
monochrome drawing.

HOWEVER, more than 5 different colour groups is a strong NO. Instead, use only
one colour group (rarely 2), with:
 - slight hue-variations (NOTE: the next version is better)
 - *contrast/luminosity* changes: 2 adjacent colours should have very different
luminosities, so that black-white printing looks OK and also viewing in colour
highlights the difference.

IF there are more than 8-10 groups of data, the user makes something wrong!!!
Some of the groups should be contracted into a single group.

Also, with more than 5 colours, some of the colours are chosen as *shades of
gray* (+ sometimes the colour black). This fits in the concept of only
luminosity changes (with sometimes colour saturation changes).

An example will be presented from the WHO report.

Other charts (like line and dot charts) bear similarity to the pie charts.


I have looked to the various chart styles on the voting page. Some look
interesting, though NONE looks really professionally. If I was to choose from
the available, I'll probably prefer the last one (number 12, blue - yellow - for
which I actually voted). This is the only one to have a professional look. All
multi-colour styles just don't seem right. Please NOTE that even this one fails
for the bar chart: there are simply to many colours. Instead use either a single
colour or only 2 colours (whith the second one to highlight only important parts
of the bar chart).

Various other professional examples from WHO reports will be presented in a
second writer document attached to the previous issue.


a.) *multi-coloured charts* actually never look professional
IF the chart contains many groups of data, instead of using dozens of colours,
  i.)  a *single colour* (see attached Chart_Bars_Styles_Blue.jpg)
  ii.) a limited number of similar colours + shades of gray (see examples
Chart_Bars_Styles_Orange.jpg, and most other examples)

In this latter case, consider using the highest contrast colour-pair to
highlight only the important aspects of the chart. Therefore, it is really NOT
important to have dozens of colours, BUT rather a limited number of them and use
them appropriately.

b.) there is a huge difference if somebody draws a chart only with 2 groups of
data (high contrast might be OK in this case), 3-5 groups (medium contrast and
optimal colour spread) or > 5 groups (various shades/hues of same colour
interspersed with gray tones). Having more than 5 completely different (widely
differing) colours looks awfully.

c.) As a last note: I would prefer more than one colour scheme. As pointed
previously, different schemes for the BAR and PIE charts, as well as the 2
groups case, 3-5 and >5 groups case is also warranted.


Leonard Mada
Comment 48 discoleo 2007-03-04 22:01:59 UTC
Created attachment 43519 [details]
EXAMPLES of Colour Schemes
Comment 49 bjoern.milcke 2007-03-06 13:37:30 UTC
Taking over.

Checked in the new default palette that was voted for. See for the
voting results.
Comment 50 bjoern.milcke 2007-03-06 13:44:52 UTC
Fixed in CWS chart2mst3.

Changed files:
* officecfg/registry/schema/org/openoffice/Office/Chart.xcs
* svx/source/dialog/Attic/cfgchart.cxx

Note, that the new colors are not yet in the color palette (standard.soc).
Comment 51 IngridvdM 2007-03-06 15:20:57 UTC
changed target and flags
Comment 52 bjoern.milcke 2007-03-07 10:57:35 UTC
Please verify in CWS chart2mst3.
Comment 53 bjoern.milcke 2007-03-07 14:31:10 UTC
Now we have 12 nice new colors, but they are not yet in the standard color
palette of OOo, so you cannot use them to set the color of objects to one of
them yet. This is addressed in Issue 75202.
Comment 54 kla 2007-03-14 16:55:04 UTC
verified follow up issue is i75397
Comment 55 lohmaier 2007-06-14 20:31:58 UTC
This one is fixed. Chart now has new default colors that were voted on.

Seen good in m215 → closing.