Humans experience the world largely through vision. Seventy percent of our bodies' sense receptors reside in our eyes. As a result, there is an intimate connection between seeing and thinking. It is no accident that when we understand something we say, "I see" - not, "I hear," "I smell," "I taste" or "I feel." Our tastebuds can only make five distinctions - sweet, bitter, salty, sour and a lesser-known savory characteristic called umami - but we can distinguish a seemingly endless number of subtle differences in color. Our rich ability to perceive colors can be applied to data visualization in powerful and useful ways, but it is often misapplied simply because most folks don't understand it and the limitations of its use.

In this column, I'd like to focus on three recommended practices for using color in graphs:

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