5. Color Saturation

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Color saturation allows you to color your charts according to the values of a field. Learn how to use this formatting option in this lesson.


Color Saturation

  • Color saturation colors the points on a chart according to the value of a specified field
  • Color saturation is affected by the distribution of the dataset – a skewed distribution will lead to a distribution of colors that can be difficult to observe
  • We can format the minimum and maximum colors, for example, to produce a red-green scale
  • As color saturation and legends both modify colors, you can only use one of them on a chart


In this lesson, we'll look at how we can use color saturation to color data according to the size of one field. This formatting option is a particularly useful way of analyzing two variables with different scales on the same visualization. Let's duplicate the current sheet to use it for this lesson. There are two ways of doing this. The first is to right click on the sheet name at the bottom of the page and select duplicate page. Alternatively, we can navigate to the home tab in the ribbon, select new page, and then duplicate page.

We now have a copy of the existing report page. We won't need the revenue by state chart, so we'll select it and press delete to delete it. We'll sort the remaining graph by count of state. Our current chart shows the number of states that each salesperson has sold to. We would also like to consider their total revenue generated on the same chart. This will allow us to see if there is a relationship between the revenue generated by a salesperson and the number of states they operate in. To that end, we'll add revenue to the color saturation well.

The colors have changed slightly, but there's no significant difference for most salespeople. Salespeople with the darkest bars generate the most revenue, while those with the lightest bars generate the least revenue. The primary issue here is that the two lowest salespeople, Barkus and Stefani, have considerably lower revenue than the other salespeople. This means that the relative difference in revenue for all other salespeople is quite small, leading to a small divergence in colors. We'll deal with this by adding the salesperson field as a page-level filter and filter out Barkus and Stefani.

We can now see a greater spread of colors for the remaining salespeople. That being said, the standard color saturation does not stand out too much.

However, we can change this by adjusting the colors used.

We'll select the formatting icon under the visualizations pane, select the data colors option, and see that we can change the minimum and maximum colors. We'll select the minimum color, custom color, and select a red.

We'll then change the maximum color to a bright green. We'll also turn diverging on and keep it as white so we can easily see where the two colors meet. It's now easier to see that Moran and Holmberg are the highest earners.

Note that they are not selling to the highest number of states. This might mean that they sell to larger customers or they sell to a higher number of companies in the states where they operate. Note that color saturation cannot be combined with a legend. To illustrate this point, we'll navigate back to the field section of the visualizations pane and try to drag the region field to the legend well. It wouldn't make sense to have both these wells active on a single visualization, as they both modify the colors used to represent data. As we can see, the saturation well can be useful when visually analyzing performance. Note there is no indication on the visual of what variable is being used to determine the color saturation. Only the title gives a hint that revenue is being used in this chart. If using this tool, you'll want to ensure that your viewers understand the meaning of the chart's colors. In the next lesson, we'll continue our overview of visualization types by looking at tables and matrices.