Labels, Colours, and Shapes

The labels, colours and shapes panel allows configuration of your visualisations.

TIP: While colours and shapes can be defined in the imported metadata table file, the __colour and __shape columns are not displayed in the metadata table panel, since they are configuration columns and not metadata columns. To view the information in those columns, you can download the CSV file from the project.


Labels affect which field is displayed on tree tips and network nodes


The colour column is the field used to colour map markers, tree nodes, chart features and timeline blocks

  • Any column can be used to colour the panels.

The colour palette used can be changed by toggling and clicking on the colour palette box.

  • If a colour has been specified in the metadata sheet with a name <FIELD NAME>_colour corresponding to the colour column, these will be used as categorical values. (e.g. if you want to define the colours for the 'country' column, add a column to your data called 'country__colour' (or 'country__color') before importing to Microreact)

  • Auto-colour will be used as a default when no __colour column is defined

    • By default, if a __colour field has not been specified for a column in the metadata sheet, a categorical colour palette with 24 qualitative colours will be used.

  • Even if the colour palette is set via a __colour column, you can override those colours by manually setting them in the colour palette box.

  • A selection of pre-defined palettes are available and these colours can be edited by the user from within Microreact.

  • Numeric columns can be coloured continuously using a gradient

  • Colour palettes can be re-used for other columns which contain the same values.

  • Colours can be defined for any and all columns, regardless of whether they are used as the main colour column for the panels. Charts and tree Metadata Blocks colour by columns other than the main Colour Column.

These can customised using the custom palette toggle button and clicking on each colour in turn.

If a column has shared values with other columns that already has a colour these can be re-used using the re-use feature.

For a column that has numerical values only there is the option to select a gradient palette that can either be continuous or from 3-24 steps. The palette for the individual steps or the continuous start and stop boundaries can be customised.

TIP: Use the palettes available at


Tree nodes and single-row marks on maps can be configured with shapes in addition to colour. The only way to set shapes is within the data, by creating a __shape column. If there is no "Shape Column" shown in the Labels, Colours, and Shapes menu, then no columns have a corresponding __shape column. All columns with a corresponding __shape column will be available for selection in the Shape Column dropdown.

The available shapes are listed here in Phylocanvas:

Example of a tree displaying shapes and the corresponding metadata table containing the __shape field:

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