Institutional colors


2020 12 18


This vignette shows how the color-related tools provided by unikn can be applied to other institutions. (For a general introduction of the unikn colors, color palettes, and color functions, see the vignette on Colors and color palettes. The vignette on text provides information on creating text boxes and decorations.)

The color palettes included in the unikn package are based on the CD manual of the University of Konstanz, Germany. However, the functionality provided by the package makes it easy and straightforward to define and use your own color scales. In the following, we provide examples to illustrate how this can be achieved for other institutions.

Please install and/or load the unikn package to get started:

# install.packages('unikn')  # install unikn from CRAN client
library('unikn')             # loads the package

Defining colors and color palettes

The following examples show how to define color palettes (with dedicated color names) for three institutions. They can be easily adapted to any other group, company, or entity, that uses some pre-defined set of colors.

A. University of Freiburg, Germany:

Uni Freiburg

The Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg provides fairly extensive information on its corporate color scheme (available here and here). Colors can be defined in a variety of ways, but R comes with convenient tools (like col2rgb and convertColor in grDevices) to handle most cases. The most straightforward way of creating a new color palette in R is by using its HEX/HTML code (provided in character format). As the University of Freiburg kindly provides their colors in this format, we can easily define the corresponding color palettes as named vectors:

Alternatively, we can define both (colors and names) in one step by using the newpal() function:

Once a new color palette has been defined (and is available in your current R environment), we can use the seecol() and usecol() functions to view, modify, and use the palette:

B. Princeton University, USA:

Princeton University

The color scheme of Princeton University is easily recognized by its combination of orange with black and white elements. The official guidelines (available here) define “Princeton Orange” as Pantone (PMS) 158 C.

These definitions suggest defining three separate versions of orange and corresponding color palettes:

C. Max Planck Society, Germany:


The CD manual (available here) of the Max Planck Society specifies the use of 2 primary colors:

Again, the easiest way of defining a corresponding color palette is by defining vectors of colors and their names and then use the newpal() function for creating a new color palette. To allow for better color gradients, we insert the color "white" between the two dedicated colors:

As before, can now use the seecol() and usecol() functions to view, modify, and use the new pal_mpg color palette:

Comparing custom color palettes

Once a new palette has been defined (and is available in your current R environment), the seecol() and usecol() functions allow comparing, scaling, and using them in the same fashion as the native unikn color palettes:

# Compare and extend custom color palettes:
# seecol(list(pal_freiburg_info, pal_freiburg_basic, pal_mpg, pal_princeton_1))

# Scaled version: 
seecol(list(pal_freiburg_basic, pal_princeton_1, pal_mpg, pal_unikn), n = 9,
       pal_names = c("Uni Freiburg", "Princeton Uni", "Max Planck", "Uni Konstanz"),
       title = "Comparing scaled color palettes")


The following versions of unikn and corresponding resources are currently available:

Type: Version: URL:
A. unikn (R package): Release version
  Development version
B. Online documentation: Release version
  Development version



The following vignettes provide instructions and examples for using the unikn colors, color palettes, and functions:

Nr. Vignette Content
1. Colors Colors and color functions
2. Color recipes Recipes for color-related tasks
3. Institutional colors Creating color palettes for other institutions
4. Text Text boxes and decorations