I would like to add this plot to my article but it has lots of colors which I'm not in favor of. This figure represents a continuous value as a function of the number of sources that has been calculated for two different categorical parameters (prior knowledge and number of voxels). I appreciate your ideas on how to modify and enhance this figure.


  • 6
    Is there a reason why the bars fade at the top? This looks like a horrible choice; in bar graphs one must be able to see clearly where the bar ends. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 12:56
  • 1
    A related question to the other comment: what is that scale on the right? Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:00
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    Using three colors that close is a horrbile idea (and agree with @FedericoPoloni, fading bars are also very bad). Also, I do not recommend serif font in figures.
    – Greg
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


If you don't want to use colors, you could use patterns instead. Here is an example:

enter image description here

Image Source


The use of pattern, per Alberto Casas Ortiz, is a great solution. It appears that, for each group defined by prior knowledge (excellent, good, poor), the # (Sources x Detectors) increases (the vertical axis) in every category of Number of Voxels. As the number of voxels increases, the # (Sources x Detectors) goes up in each group defined by prior knowledge. To convey this information, the patterns could be selected so that the pattern for excellent is, for example, dense dots; the pattern for good is less dense dots; the pattern for poor is light dots.

Here is a graphic of data like your data made using excel (clustered column chart). By the way, the figure legend is probably easier to understand when placed at the right and read horizontally or beneath the horizontal axis.

enter image description here

  • Yes, and these pattern choices are more readable.
    – Dawn
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 4:09

This graph looks like it would be a lot more readable as a line graph:

enter image description here

Image source

  • Noooo. No line graphs unless there is some meaning to the linking (like years over time).
    – Dawn
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 4:07
  • @Dawn Good point about my example image (I just looked up a freely reusable image without wasting much time on it), but note that in OP's problem the x axis is numeric, not categorical, so there is a meaning to the linking. Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 8:47

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