Quick Tips For Using Color Effectively

by Speaking Tips | January 5, 2004

Many people feel insecure about working with colors. What we often fail to appreciate is that we each have a lifetime of experience which began with baby toys and continues through life in nature, art, the media, clothes, and furnishings. In visual aids and presentation slides color can be a very effective method for reinforcing content and focusing attention.

Tips on Using Color

  1. Approach color as a palette combining several colors. Select a palette that supports your presentation (festive, somber, exciting, relaxing).
  2. Keep your palette simple. Don't use too many colors or many shades of one color. Too many bright colors can be distracting.
  3. Anything with text in it must pass the legibility test. "Is it easy to read?" Aim for high contrast between the color of the text and the background.
  4. Select a consistent color scheme for format elements throughout a slide presentation. The audience can recognize the titles and headers by constant color.
  5. Consider the ambient light as well as the pigment. Light colors reflect more illumination than dark ones.  Too much brightness may cause glare and fatigue eyes. Under dim lights color disappears.  Dark colors disappear faster than lighter shades and tints.
  6. Obtain or make a color wheel and use it. Select one which identifies the warm and cool colors.
  7. Collect colored paper cut from old magazines, catalogs and brochures to try out ideas and combinations.  Collect brochures and ads that resonant with you.
  8. Learn the 14 basic color building blocks which are: (i) Primaries (yellow, blue, red), (ii)Secondaries (orange, green, violet), (iii) Tertiaries (yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, yellow-range<), and (iv) Black and white (technically not colors but commonly used as colors and functionally required to create tints, shades, tones and earth colors).

There are many excellent books and articles on color. Some of the best place to find such books are in: libraries, art bookstores, Stores selling supplies for artists and graphic designers and the art section of major bookstores.

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