Stata schemes to produce uncluttered bar and line graphs

View the Project on GitHub graykimbrough/uncluttered-stata-graphs

Uncluttered Stata Graphs

These schemes are intended to allow users to produce uncluttered basic graphs (particularly line and bar graphs) in Stata.

Files provided

The schemes directory contains two schemes, a basic uncluttered scheme (scheme-uncluttered.scheme), and one that varies line patterns for better reproduction in black and white (scheme-uncluttered_publication.scheme). The publication scheme is based on the uncluttered scheme, which must be present for it to work.

The examples directory contains an example and its accompanying data. When the uncluttered scheme is in the correct directory, this program will produce a graph with labels to the right of each line.

Basic setup

Place the .scheme file(s) in your Stata PERSONAL directory (if you don’t know it, use the sysdir command), then close and reopen Stata. Change the currently used scheme to the basic uncluttered scheme using the command set scheme uncluttered, or change to the uncluttered publication scheme using set scheme uncluttered_publication.

Change to a scheme permanently (including after Stata is closed and reopened) with the permanent option:

set scheme uncluttered, permanent

User settings and extensions

Line and bar colors

Line and bar colors for both themes are specified in the scheme-uncluttered.scheme file.

Four colors are provided, but feel free to change these so that your graphs don’t look exactly like the scheme author’s graphs. Also add additional colors as needed, beginning with p5. Colors are most easily specified as quoted RGB values, e.g. "24 105 109". Stata color names can also be used, e.g. maroon.

Jon Schwabish provides a selection of resources for selecting colors that work well together in the materials for his book Better Presentations. One great set of tools is Viz Palette in conjunction with Colorgorical.

Graph font

To the best of my knowledge, the only way to set the font used for graphs is through Stata Preferences. In Mac OS X, the Font setting is found under Preferences -> Graph preferences -> Window. This setting appears to take effect permanently.

Legends and axis titles

Legends are turned off by default, though they can be restored using the legend(on) option to the graph twoway command.

There does not appear to be a Stata scheme setting to turn off the display of only vertical axis titles. The example program accomplishes this using the ytitle("") option to the graph twoway command.


Users attempting to build more complicated graphs or different types of graphs may find these schemes limited. Extensions to cover additional graph types are welcome.


For an extended discussion of color themes and fonts for data visualizations, see Better Presentations.