Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site has some aesthetically pleasing figures, ignoring the content of the plots for a moment:

After pulling a few graphs locally, sampling colors, and crowd-sourcing the fonts used, I was able to come pretty close to replicating the style in Matplotlib styles. Here's an example (my figure dropped into an article on

Another example using the replicated styles:

So how to do it?

[Edit: these steps are old, you can still use them, but there is a better solution in the Update below]. I've prepacked the styles in a json file, located in this gist. Saving that file locally, you can use the following code to load it temporarily into your matplotlib styles: code here.

Notable Departures

  • The font they use for their axes is Decima Mono, a paywalled font, and there are no available alternatives.
  • They often have healthy margins between the lines and the axes, I wasn't able to replicate this.
  • Their figures almost always have a title and subtitle of different weights.


I'm not sure what software the team at FiveThirtyEight uses (Excel, Stata?), but there is definitely some post-processing of whatever the software spits out. The same can be done here, in which case you could achieve complete replication.


Here's an R version that @AustinClemens2 worked out.

New way: Matplotlib 1.4 now handles changing styles really well, using the'ggplot') syntax. (See full instructions here). I submitted a PR to have FiveThirtyEight style included in Matplotlib, so now you can type'fivethirtyeight')! I also include the popular Bayesian Methods for Hackers color scheme,'bmh'). Give it a try!