Set axis limits and aspect ratios
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Syntax
axis(limits)
axis style
axis mode
axis ydirection
axis visibility
lim = axis
___ = axis(ax,___)
Description
example
axis(limits)
specifiesthe limits for the current axes. Specify the limits as vector of four,six, or eight elements.
example
axis style
uses apredefined style to set the limits and scaling. For example, specifythe style as equal
to use equal data unit lengthsalong each axis.
example
axis mode
sets whether MATLAB^{®} automaticallychooses the limits or not. Specify the mode as manual
, auto
,or one of the semiautomatic options, such as 'auto x'
.
example
axis ydirection
, where ydirection
is ij
,places the origin at the upper left corner of the axes. The y valuesincrease from top to bottom. The default for ydirection
is xy
,which places the origin at the lower left corner. The y valuesincrease from bottom to top.
example
axis visibility
, where visibility
is off
,turns off the display of the axes background. Plots in the axes stilldisplay. The default for visibility
is on
,which displays the axes background.
example
lim = axis
returnsthe xaxis and yaxis limitsfor the current axes. For 3D axes, it also returns the zaxislimits. For polar axes, it returns the thetaaxisand raxis limits.
example
___ = axis(ax,___)
usesthe axes or polar axes specified by ax
insteadof the current axes. Specify ax
as the first inputargument for any of the previous syntaxes. Use single quotes aroundinput arguments that are character vectors, such as axis(ax,'equal')
.
Examples
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Set Axis Limits
Open Live Script
Plot the sine function.
x = linspace(0,2*pi);y = sin(x);plot(x,y,'o')
Change the axis limits so that the xaxis ranges from $$0$$ to $$2\pi $$ and the yaxis ranges from 1.5 to 1.5.
axis([0 2*pi 1.5 1.5])
Add Padding Around Stairstep Plot
Open Live Script
Create a stairstep plot, and use the axis padded
command to add a margin of padding between the plot and the plot box.
x = 0:12;y = sin(x);stairs(x,y)axis padded
Use Semiautomatic Axis Limits
Open Live Script
Create a plot. Set the limits for the xaxis and set the minimum yaxis limit. Use an automatically calculated value for the maximum yaxis limit.
x = linspace(10,10,200);y = sin(4*x)./exp(.1*x);plot(x,y)axis([10 10 0 inf])
Set Axis Limits for Multiple Axes
Open Live Script
Starting in R2019b, you can display a tiling of plots using the tiledlayout
and nexttile
functions. Call the tiledlayout
function to create a 2by1 tiled chart layout. Call the nexttile
function to create the axes objects ax1
and ax2
. Plot data in each axes. Then set the axis limits for both axes to the same values.
tiledlayout(2,1)x1 = linspace(0,10,100);y1 = sin(x1);ax1 = nexttile;plot(ax1,x1,y1)x2 = linspace(0,5,100);y2 = sin(x2);ax2 = nexttile;plot(ax2,x2,y2)axis([ax1 ax2],[0 10 1 1])
Display Plot Without Axes Background
Open Live Script
Plot a surface without displaying the axes lines and background.
surf(peaks)axis off
Use Tight Axis Limits and Return Values
Open Live Script
Plot a surface. Set the axis limits to equal the range of the data so that the plot extends to the edges of the axes.
surf(peaks)axis tight
Return the values of the current axis limits.
l = axis
l = 1×6 1.0000 49.0000 1.0000 49.0000 6.5466 8.0752
Change Direction of Coordinate System
Open Live Script
Create a checkerboard plot and change the direction of the coordinate system.
First, create the plot using the summer
colormap. By default, the x values increase from left to right and the y values increase from bottom to top.
C = eye(10);pcolor(C)colormap summer
Reverse the coordinate system so that the y values increase from top to bottom.
axis ij
Retain Current Axis Limits When Adding New Plots
Open Live Script
Plot a sine wave.
x = linspace(0,10);y = sin(x);plot(x,y)
Add another sine wave to the axes using hold on
. Keep the current axis limits by setting the limits mode to manual.
y2 = 2*sin(x);hold onaxis manualplot(x,y2)hold off
If you want the axes to choose the appropriate limits, set the limits mode back to automatic.
axis auto
Input Arguments
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limits
— Axis limits
fourelement vector  sixelement vector  eightelement vector
Axis limits, specified as a vector of four, six, or eight elements.
For Cartesian axes, specify the limits in one of these forms:
[xmin xmax ymin ymax]
— Set the xaxis limits to range fromxmin
toxmax
. Set the yaxis limits to range fromymin
toymax
.[xmin xmax ymin ymax zmin zmax]
— Also set the zaxis limits to range fromzmin
tozmax
.[xmin xmax ymin ymax zmin zmax cmin cmax]
— Also set the color limits.cmin
is the data value that corresponds to the first color in the colormap.cmax
is the data value that corresponds to the last color in the colormap.
The XLim, YLim, ZLim, and CLim properties for the Axes
object store the limit values.
For polar axes, specify the limits in this form:
[thetamin thetamax rmin rmax]
— Set the thetaaxis limits to range fromthetamin
tothetamax
. Set the raxis limits to range fromrmin
tormax
.
The ThetaLim and RLim properties for the PolarAxes
object store the limit values.
For partially automatic limits, use inf
or inf
forthe limits you want the axes to choose automatically. For example, axis([inf10 0 inf])
lets the axes choose the appropriate minimum xaxislimit and maximum yaxis limit. It uses the specifiedvalues for the maximum xaxis limit and minimum yaxislimit.
Note
If the xaxis, yaxis,or zaxis displays categorical, datetime, orduration values, then use the xlim, ylim, and zlim functionsto set the limits instead.
Example: axis([0 1 0 1])
Example: axis([0 1 0 1 0 1])
Example: axis([0 inf 0 inf])
mode
— Manual, automatic, or semiautomatic selection of axis limits
manual
 auto
 'auto x'
 'auto y'
 'auto z'
 'auto xy'
 'auto xz'
 'auto yz'
Manual, automatic, or semiautomatic selection of axis limits, specified as one of the values in this table. All of the auto mode values use the tickaligned
style to calculate the limits for the particular axis or set of axes you specify.
Value  Description  Axes Properties That Change 

manual  Freeze all axis limits at their current values.  Sets XLimMode , YLimMode , and ZLimMode to 'manual' . If you are working with polar axes, then this option sets ThetaLimMode and RLimMode to 'manual' . 
auto  Automatically choose all axis limits.  Sets XLimMode , YLimMode , and ZLimMode to 'auto' . If you are working with polar axes, then this option sets ThetaLimMode and RLimMode to 'auto' . 
'auto x'  Automatically choose the xaxis limits.  Sets XLimMode to 'auto' . 
'auto y'  Automatically choose the yaxis limits.  Sets YLimMode to 'auto' . 
'auto z'  Automatically choose the zaxis limits.  Sets ZLimMode to 'auto' . 
'auto xy'  Automatically choose the xaxis and yaxis limits.  Sets XLimMode and YLimMode to 'auto' . 
'auto xz'  Automatically choose the xaxis and zaxis limits.  Sets XLimMode and ZLimMode to 'auto' . 
'auto yz'  Automatically choose the yaxis and zaxis limits.  Sets YLimMode and ZLimMode to 'auto' . 
Note
You cannot use these options with polar axes.
style
— Axis limits and scaling
tight
 padded
 fill
 equal
 image
 square
 vis3d
 normal
Axis limits and scaling, specified as one of these values.
Value  Description  Axes Properties That Change 

tickaligned  In general, align the edges of the axes box with the tick marks that are closest to your data without excluding any data. The appearance might vary depending on the type of data you plot and the type of chart you create. 

tight  Fit the axes box tightly around the data by setting the axis limits equal to the range of the data. 

padded  Fit the axes box around the data with a thin margin of padding on all sides. The width of the margin is approximately 7% of your data range. 

equal  Use the same length for the data units along each axis.  Sets This style disables the default “stretchtofill” behavior. 
image  Use the same length for the data units along each axis andfit the axes box tightly around the data.  Sets This style disables the default “stretchtofill” behavior. 
square  Use axis lines with equal lengths. Adjust the increments betweendata units accordingly.  Sets This style disables the default “stretchtofill” behavior. 
fill  Enable the “stretchtofill” behavior (the default). The lengths of each axis line fill the position rectangle defined in the Position property of the axes.  Sets 
vis3d  Freeze the aspect ratio properties.  Sets 
normal  Restore the default behavior.  Sets 
For more information on the plot box aspect ratio and the dataaspect ratio, see the PlotBoxAspectRatio and DataAspectRatio properties.
Note
You cannot use these options with polar axes, except for the axistight
and axis normal
commands.
ydirection
— yaxis direction
xy
(default)  ij
yaxis direction, specified as one of thesevalues:
xy
— Default direction.For axes in a 2D view, the yaxis is verticalwith values increasing from bottom to top.ij
— Reverse direction.For axes in a 2D view, the yaxis is verticalwith values increasing from top to bottom.
Note
You cannot use these options with polar axes.
visibility
— Axes lines and background visibility
"on"
 "off"
 true
or 1
 false
or 0
 OnOffSwitchState
value
Axes lines and background visibility, specified any of these values:
"on"
or"off"
— A value of"on"
displays the axes lines and background, and"off"
hides them. You can also specify the character vectors'on'
or'off'
.Numeric or logical
1
(true
) or0
(false
) — A value of1
ortrue
displays the axes lines and background, and0
orfalse
hides them. (since R2024a)A matlab.lang.OnOffSwitchState value — A value of
matlab.lang.OnOffSwitchState.on
displays the axes lines and background, andmatlab.lang.OnOffSwitchState.off
hides them. (since R2024a)
Note
Use parentheses to specify 1
, 0
, true
, false
, or an OnOffSwitchState
value. For example, axis(0)
and axis(false)
hide the axes.
Parentheses are optional for the values "on"
and "off"
. For example, axis off
hides the axes.
Specifying the visibility sets the Visible property of the Axes
object or PolarAxes
object to the specified value.
ax
— Target axes
one or more axes
Target axes, specified as one or more axes. You can specify Axes
objectsor PolarAxes
objects. If you do not specify theaxes, then axis
sets the limits for the currentaxes (gca).
When you specify the axes, use single quotes around other inputarguments that are character vectors.
Example: axis(ax,'tight')
Example: axis(ax,limits)
Example: axis(ax,'manual')
Output Arguments
collapse all
lim
— Current limit values
fourelement vector  sixelement vector
Current limit values, returned as a fourelement or sixelementvector.
For Cartesian axes in a 2D view,
lim
is of the form[xmin xmax ymin ymax]
. For axes in a 3D view,lim
is of the form[xmin xmax ymin ymax zmin zmax]
. The XLim, YLim, and ZLim properties for theAxes
object store the limit values.For polar axes,
lim
is of the form[thetamin thetamax rmin rmax]
. The ThetaLim and RLim properties for thePolarAxes
object store the limit values.
Tips
You can combine multiple input arguments together, for example,
axis image ij
. The options are evaluated from left to right. Subsequent options can overwrite properties set by prior ones.If axes do not exist, the
axis
functioncreates them.Use
hold on
to keep plotting functionsfrom overriding preset axis limits.
Version History
Introduced before R2006a
expand all
R2024a: Display or hide axes by specifying logical or OnOffSwitchState
value
Display or hide the axes by specifying the visibility
input argument as a logical value or as a matlab.lang.OnOffSwitchState value. The values 1
and true
are equivalent to "on"
, and 0
and false
are equivalent to "off"
.
The values "on"
and "off"
are still supported.
R2015a: Querying limit selection mode, visibility, and yaxis direction will no longer be supported
This syntax, which returns the axis limit selection mode (m
), visibility (v
), and yaxis direction (d
) issues a warning that it will be removed in a future release.
[m,v,d] = axis('state')
You can get the same information by querying these Axes
properties:
Axis limit selection mode — XLimMode, YLimMode, and ZLimMode properties
Visibility — Visible property
x and yaxis direction — XDir and YDir properties
See Also
Functions
 xlim  ylim  zlim  tiledlayout  nexttile  title  grid
Properties
 Axes Properties  PolarAxes Properties
Topics
 Specify Axis Limits
 Control Ratio of Axis Lengths and Data Unit Lengths
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