What Colors Look Good on a Map

09-13-2012 07:07 AM
New Contributor II
Hi everybody,

I will start off with I know how to create a customized color ramp in ArcMap 10. My question is what colors do people like to use. My manager is not a fan of the ESRI color ramp selections and would like something that isn't hard on the eyes. I create several heat maps showing population by zip code so I will use between 8-10 colors.

I am also interested in knowing what colors other users use, what colors they like to use and what colors they don't like and would never use on a map.

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New Contributor II
I highly recommend:


A serious investment in one's ability to work with color might include this:


Other resource material may be found here:



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Occasional Contributor II
While I was working in Jordan a graphic artist argued with me to change our mapping from yellows and oranges to blues and greens.
I refused and the GA did it anyways over a weekend. The Jordanians were not pleased as desert colours are more appealing to them then Canadian forest colours.

I use:


I make most maps and colour ramps from Pantone 300 which is our corporate colour. Most people don't even notice that all of the colours are in the same family as the logo.

I would recommend either using your corporate colours or spy on your manager's office and see what colours he/she likes.
My current Director loves garish colours on a muted background while the last one hated purple.

"This mapping shows where we can maximize our return on investment down to sub-metre accuracy"
"Can you make the streets less gray?"

The life of a GIS...
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