January 13, 2023
Journal Article

On the Importance of Color in Mass Spectrometry Imaging


Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) data visualization relies on heatmaps to show the spatial distribution and measured abundances of molecules within a sample. Non-uniform color gradients such as jet are still commonly used to visualize MSI data, increasing the probability of data misinterpretation and false conclusions. Also, the use of non-uniform color gradients and the combination of hues used in common colormaps makes it challenging for people with color vision deficiencies (CVDs) to visualize and accurately interpret data. Here we present best practices for choosing a colormap to accurately display MSI data, improve readability, and accommodate all CVDs. We also provide other resources on the misuse of color in the scientific field and resources on scientifically derived colormaps presented herein.

Published: January 13, 2023


Knizer K., R.R. Kibbe, K.P. Garrard, J. Nunez, C.R. Anderton, and D.C. Muddiman. 2022. On the Importance of Color in Mass Spectrometry Imaging. Journal of Mass Spectrometry 57, no. 12:Art. No. e4898. PNNL-SA-178154. doi:10.1002/jms.4898