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The benefit of the continuous color scale

Aleks sends in this item from Gabriel Florit on choropleth classification systems. Oddly enough, Malecki and I were just talking about color mapping schemes earlier today.


  1. Ian Fellows says:

    Andrew, I’m curious what software you use to create choropleths. I’ve looked around R for beautiful solution, but came up with something that was just okay ( ).

    • Andrew says:


      We’ve been using R base graphics, taking a lot of care to get the details how we like them. Our soon-to-be-released mrp package will have pretty U.S. maps by state as a default option.

  2. Munsell says:

    The diverse applications of the modern color scale are truly remarkable, and underscore the great utility that lies in precise communication.

  3. Jens says:

    Isn’t using a continuous color scale to represent continuous values kind of the obvious choice?

    The advantage of having discrete (and easily identifiable) colors would be that it makes it easier to map a color on the graph/map to a clearly defined value range. But for that to work well you would need to use a very limited number of discrete classes, I guess.