October 16, 2013
Color is often used to display an extra dimension in plots of scientific data. Unfortunately, everyone does not decode color in exactly the same way. This is especially true for those with color vision deficiency, which affects up to 8 percent of the population in its two most common forms. As a result, it has been estimated that the odds of a given plot reaching a reviewer with some form of color vision deficiency in a group of three males is approximately 22%. Hopefully, when we are creating figures, this number alone is compelling enough to always keep these viewers in mind. The truth, however, is that your figures aren‘t only seen by reviewers: they are seen by a much wider group that includes readers of your paper, members of the audience when you present your work, viewers of your lab‘s website, and potentially many others. As your audience grows, your choices in color become more and more important for effectively communicating your work.