Microsoft Power BI Color Reference

Recently, I took some time to document the default color palette in Power BI. Why might it be import to document the colors? For certain visuals, the color picker is not always available. For example, if you create a visual in Power BI using R, and you want to match the default theme from other charts, you are on your own.

When creating visualizations, I typically shy away from software default colors for a few reasons. Sometimes, leaving the defaults can even be a wrong or misleading choice. Taking a few extra seconds to change colors to something other than the defaults shows added care and professionalism. Assuming that the colors complement each other well, it makes your report stand out in a good way. Be mindful though that colors that do not complement each other well also make your report stand out–for the wrong reason.

My suggestion would be to find style guides and stick with them. Working with data is my job–not finding colors that match well. Guides typically include a set of colors and may also include recommended fonts. I trust the choices of the design professionals who put style guides together. Some companies have their own guide already, or you could find guides from other sources such as universities.

In some cases though, leaving the defaults is beneficial. The most important reason would be for marketing and branding. If I wanted my audience to immediately recognize the software I used, there is no better way to do so than to let them see Power BI green, yellow, and red.

The standard Power BI palette is a variation of ten colors. If you ever include more than ten colors on a chart (please don’t…), the color sequence would closely match the first ten in sequence. Once you hit twenty colors, the sequence repeats, and so on. Also, one interesting anomaly is that the exact same color is used for both the fifth as well as twelfth in sequence.

Power BI Color Sequence, documented by David Eldersveld

For a little fun, I also matched the hex colors as closely as possible to their Crayola equivalent. This exercise came about after a colleague at BlueGranite wanted to know why Power BI used defaults of “mint green” and “hot pink”. Now when discussing the Power BI theme, I can refer to these colors by their closest Crayola names — Caribbean Green and Bittersweet.

Power BI Colors - Crayola Equivalents

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