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Best Practice

Colored text and legends

Colored text is sometimes used to help a presenter add another layer of information to a chart or slide. For example, green text means the object is associated to a certain category (for example), blue a different category, and so forth. There are a few things to keep in mind when using this technique:

  • Be sure you use colors that contrast well from your presentation's background (avoid yellow text on a white background, for example)
  • Be sure you use distinctive colors; colors that are too similar can easily be misinterpreted. This seems obvious, but if there are a lot of categories, you're going to run out of colors quickly. Also you want to choose color tones that blend well with your template's color scheme, which further restricts the number of colors you can use.
  • Colored text usually needs a legend to make sure your audience understands the significance of the colors
  • You can avoid using legends on multiple pages if you're deliberate about branding the colors to a category. This means that you look for additional ways to colorize the categories in your presentation. Background colors, tinted photographs, colored boundary boxes, etc., can all help reinforce the category color identity. This will add another level of proofing, because consistency is very important if you're relying on this technique to communicate the distinctions correctly.