Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Please Pluck Out My Eyes

Regular readers of the blog may know my one-man campaign to eradicate "coloring book" abstract graphics. Of course color helps out - when applied sparingly and to 'draw the eye' - but why the MSPaint-fill backgrounds? Especially those with similar structure colors, which obfuscate more than help?

I ask, of course, because these two abstracts just showed up back-to-back in my RSS feed:

Abe Group, JACS ASAP

Jia Group, JACS ASAP
Readers: Do these colors help you to understand something specific about the chemistry? Or are they just too much?


  1. Too much! Why do people continue to do this?!

  2. I don't see the problem with the first graphic. If the background was white, you couldn't see the color change in the cuvette. The red molecule goes with the red solutions. Seems rational to me.

    The second one is terribly hard to read.

    1. It's good to keep an open mind, unless you are colour blind that is.

    2. Yeah, the trifluoromethyl group hardly needs a spotlight for us to keep tabs on its location.

  3. They're both headache inducing to me as well. I understand the previous comment about the white background obscuring the color change, but I think there were better ways to address it than filling the whole background with green (e.g. maybe putting just the cuvettes in a colored box, if the pictures couldn't be taken under different conditions).

    However, well used color can really aid in quickly understanding an abstract in my opinion.

  4. White backgrounds are nice, especially if the handouts are not color copied...

  5. Looks like a science lesson for 6-year old geniuses in gifted programs ("All right, now stay focused on that giant yellow circle on top of the molecule")

    By the way, yellow on blue backgrounds is also annoyingly common among professional presenters. I have seen world-famous scientists use this hideous combination on their slides. Why would they do this?