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Color theory and design



This article, first published online on February 4, 2011 in Wiley Online Library (, has been revised at the request of the Editors-in-Chief and the Publisher. References and links have been added to aid the reader interested in following up on any technique. Please follow the link to the Supporting Information to view the original version of this article.

In this article, we discuss color theory and design with emphasis on use in statistical, scientific, and data visualization. Color theory is inextricably linked to the physiology of the human visual system, and color design is similarly inextricably linked to human perception. We discuss color perception in the human visual system. We then quantify color perception in terms of the Munsell System and the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) color space. We continue to discuss color design with a perspective on individuals with defective color perception and finally conclude with a discussion of design of color usage in presentations. WIREs Comp Stat 2011 3 104–117 DOI: 10.1002/wics.146

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