Designing Line Graphs

Make your line graphs accessible for color-blind readers.

Design your article’s line graphs to be understandable by color-blind readers, who may have difficulty distinguishing between red and green, blue and green, or yellow and red. Approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are color blind, so it’s highly likely that someone reading your article will be color blind. These tips will help you communicate better with those readers.

  • Use both color and shape to convey the same meaning; for example, solid and dashed lines or different fill patterns can help readers understand the figure without relying solely on color
  • Choose a color palette that is more visible to color-blind readers
  • Contrast different elements of the figure with both color hue and brightness
  • Each line of your line graph should be a thick line with a unique data point symbol
  • Connect the data label to the data line rather than relying on a color key

A quick way to evaluate your figure is to print it out in greyscale or apply a greyscale color filter and see if it can still be interpreted correctly; if not, use some of these tips to make it more accessible to all readers.