Scatter plot
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Syntax
scatter(x,y)
scatter(x,y,sz)
scatter(x,y,sz,c)
scatter(___,"filled")
scatter(___,mkr)
scatter(tbl,xvar,yvar)
scatter(tbl,xvar,yvar,"filled")
scatter(ax,___)
scatter(___,Name,Value)
s = scatter(___)
Description
Vector and Matrix Data
example
scatter(x,y)
creates a scatter plot with circular markers at the locations specified by the vectors x
and y
.
To plot one set of coordinates, specify
x
andy
as vectors of equal length.To plot multiple sets of coordinates on the same set of axes, specify at least one of
x
ory
as a matrix.
example
scatter(x,y,sz)
specifies the circle sizes. To use the same size for all the circles, specify sz
as a scalar. To plot each circle with a different size, specify sz
as a vector or a matrix.
example
scatter(x,y,sz,c)
specifies the circle colors. You can specify one color for all the circles, or you can vary the color. For example, you can plot all red circles by specifying c
as "red"
.
example
scatter(___,"filled")
fills in the circles. Use the "filled"
option with any of the input argument combinations in the previous syntaxes.
example
scatter(___,mkr)
specifiesthe marker type.
Table Data
example
scatter(tbl,xvar,yvar)
plots the variables xvar
and yvar
from the table tbl
. To plot one data set, specify one variable for xvar
and one variable for yvar
. To plot multiple data sets, specify multiple variables for xvar
, yvar
, or both. If both arguments specify multiple variables, they must specify the same number of variables. (Since R2021b)
example
scatter(tbl,xvar,yvar,"filled")
plots the specified variables from the table with filled circles. (Since R2021b)
Additional Options
example
scatter(ax,___)
plots into the axes specified by ax
instead of into the current axes. The option ax
can precede any of the input argument combinations in the previous syntaxes.
example
scatter(___,Name,Value)
modifies the scatter plot using one or more namevalue arguments to set properties. For example:
scatter(x,y,"LineWidth",2)
creates a scatter plot with 2point marker outlines.scatter(tbl,"MyX","MyY","ColorVariable","MyColors")
creates a scatter plot from data in a table, and customizes the marker colors using data from the table.
For a full list of properties, see Scatter Properties.
example
s = scatter(___)
returns the Scatter
object or an array of Scatter
objects. Use s
to set properties after creating the plot. For a full list of properties, see Scatter Properties.
Examples
collapse all
Create Scatter Plot
Open Live Script
Create x
as 200 equally spaced values between 0 and $$3\pi $$. Create y
as cosine values with random noise. Then, create a scatter plot.
x = linspace(0,3*pi,200);y = cos(x) + rand(1,200); scatter(x,y)
Vary Circle Size
Open Live Script
Create a scatter plot using circles with different sizes. Specify the size in points squared
x = linspace(0,3*pi,200);y = cos(x) + rand(1,200);sz = linspace(1,100,200);scatter(x,y,sz)
Corresponding elements in x
, y
, and sz
determine the location and size of each circle. To plot all circles with the equal area, specify sz
as a numeric scalar.
Vary Circle Color
Open Live Script
Create a scatter plot and vary the circle color.
x = linspace(0,3*pi,200);y = cos(x) + rand(1,200);c = linspace(1,10,length(x));scatter(x,y,[],c)
Corresponding elements in x
, y
, and c
determine the location and color of each circle. The scatter
function maps the elements in c
to colors in the current colormap.
Vary Color Palette
Since R2023b
Named color palettes provide a convenient way to change the colors of a chart. This example compares a scatter plot with three different color palettes.
Create a scatter plot of random numbers using the default palette.
x = rand(50,5);y = randn(50,5) + (5:5:25);scatter(x,y,"filled")
Change the color palette to reef
by using colororder
function.
colororder("reef")
Change the color palette to meadow
.
colororder("meadow")
Fill the Markers
Open Live Script
Create a scatter plot and fill in the markers. scatter
fills each marker using the color of the marker edge.
x = linspace(0,3*pi,200);y = cos(x) + rand(1,200);sz = 25;c = linspace(1,10,length(x));scatter(x,y,sz,c,'filled')
Specify Marker Symbol
Open Live Script
Create vectors x
and y
as sine and cosine values with random noise. Then, create a scatter plot and use diamond markers with an area of 140 points squared.
theta = linspace(0,2*pi,150);x = sin(theta) + 0.75*rand(1,150);y = cos(theta) + 0.75*rand(1,150); sz = 140;scatter(x,y,sz,'d')
Change Marker Color and Line Width
Open Live Script
Create vectors x
and y
as sine and cosine values with random noise. Create a scatter plot and set the marker edge color, marker face color, and line width.
theta = linspace(0,2*pi,300);x = sin(theta) + 0.75*rand(1,300);y = cos(theta) + 0.75*rand(1,300); sz = 40;scatter(x,y,sz,'MarkerEdgeColor',[0 .5 .5],... 'MarkerFaceColor',[0 .7 .7],... 'LineWidth',1.5)
Vary Transparency Across Data Points
Open Live Script
You can vary the transparency of scattered points by setting the AlphaData
property to a vector of different opacity values. To ensure the scatter plot uses the AlphaData
values, set the MarkerFaceAlpha
property to 'flat'
.
Create a set of normally distributed random numbers. Then create a scatter plot of the data with filled markers.
x = randn(1000,1);y = randn(1000,1);s = scatter(x,y,'filled');
Set the opacity of each point according to its distance from zero.
distfromzero = sqrt(x.^2 + y.^2);s.AlphaData = distfromzero;s.MarkerFaceAlpha = 'flat';
Plot Data from a Table
Open Live Script
Since R2021b
A convenient way to plot data from a table is to pass the table to the scatter
function and specify the variables you want to plot. For example, read patients.xls
as a table tbl
. Plot the relationship between the Systolic
and Diastolic
variables by passing tbl
as the first argument to the scatter
function followed by the variable names. Notice that the axis labels match the variable names.
tbl = readtable('patients.xls');scatter(tbl,'Systolic','Diastolic');
You can also plot multiple variables at the same time. For example, plot both blood pressure variables versus the Weight
variable by specifying the yvar
argument as the cell array {'Systolic','Diastolic'}
. Add a legend, and notice that the legend labels match the variable names.
scatter(tbl,'Weight',{'Systolic','Diastolic'});legend
Plot Table Data with Custom Colors and Marker Sizes
Open Live Script
Since R2021b
One way to plot data from a table and customize the colors and marker sizes is to set the ColorVariable
and SizeData
properties. You can set these properties as namevalue arguments when you call the scatter
function, or you can set them on the Scatter
object later.
For example, read patients.xls
as a table tbl
. Plot the Height
variable versus the Weight
variable with filled markers. Vary the marker colors by specifying the ColorVariable
namevalue argument. Return the Scatter
object as s
, so you can set other properties later.
tbl = readtable('patients.xls');s = scatter(tbl,'Weight','Height','filled','ColorVariable','Diastolic');
Change the marker sizes to 100
points by setting the SizeData
property. Then add a colorbar.
s.SizeData = 100;colorbar
Specify Target Axes and Marker Type
Open Live Script
Since 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 scattered data into each axes. In the bottom scatter plot, specify diamond filled diamond markers.
x = linspace(0,3*pi,200);y = cos(x) + rand(1,200);tiledlayout(2,1)% Top plotax1 = nexttile;scatter(ax1,x,y)% Bottom plotax2 = nexttile;scatter(ax2,x,y,'filled','d')
Modify Scatter Series After Creation
Open Live Script
Create a scatter plot and return the scatter series object, s
.
theta = linspace(0,1,500);x = exp(theta).*sin(100*theta);y = exp(theta).*cos(100*theta);s = scatter(x,y);
Use s
to query and set properties of the scatter series after it has been created. Set the line width to 0.6
point. Set the marker edge color to blue. Set the marker face color using an RGB triplet color.
s.LineWidth = 0.6;s.MarkerEdgeColor = 'b';s.MarkerFaceColor = [0 0.5 0.5];
Input Arguments
collapse all
x
— xcoordinates
scalar  vector  matrix
xcoordinates, specified as a scalar, vector, or matrix. The size and shape of x
depends on the shape of your data. This table describes the most common situations.
Type of Plot  How to Specify Coordinates 

Single point  Specify scatter(1,2) 
One set of points  Specify scatter([1 2 3],[4; 5; 6]) 
Multiple sets of points that are different colors  If all the sets share the same x or ycoordinates, specify the shared coordinates as a vector and the other coordinates as a matrix. The length of the vector must match one of the dimensions of the matrix. For example: scatter([1 2 3],[4 5 6; 7 8 9]) scatter plots a separate set of points for each column in the matrix.Alternatively, specify scatter([1 3 5; 2 4 6],[10 25 45; 20 40 60]) 
Data Types: single
 double
 int8
 int16
 int32
 int64
 uint8
 uint16
 uint32
 uint64
 categorical
 datetime
 duration
y
— ycoordinates
scalar  vector  matrix
ycoordinates, specified as a scalar, vector, or matrix. The size and shape of y
depends on the shape of your data. This table describes the most common situations.
Type of Plot  How to Specify Coordinates 

Single point  Specify scatter(1,2) 
One set of points  Specify scatter([1 2 3],[4; 5; 6]) 
Multiple sets of points that are different colors  If all the sets share the same x or ycoordinates, specify the shared coordinates as a vector and the other coordinates as a matrix. The length of the vector must match one of the dimensions of the matrix. For example: scatter([1 2 3],[4 5 6; 7 8 9]) scatter plots a separate set of points for each column in the matrix.Alternatively, specify scatter([1 3 5; 2 4 6],[10 25 45; 20 40 60]) 
Data Types: single
 double
 int8
 int16
 int32
 int64
 uint8
 uint16
 uint32
 uint64
 categorical
 datetime
 duration
sz
— Marker size
36 (default)  numeric scalar  row or column vector  matrix  []
Marker size, specified as a numeric scalar, vector, matrix, or empty array ([]
). The size controls the area of each marker in points squared. An empty array specifies the default size of 36 points. The way you specify the size depends on how you specify x
and y
, and how you want the plot to look. This table describes the most common situations.
Desired Marker Sizes  x and y  sz  Example 

Same size for all points  Any valid combination of vectors or matrices described for x and y.  Scalar  Specify x = [1 2 3 4];y = [1 6; 3 8; 2 7; 4 9];scatter(x,y,100) 
Different size for each point  Vectors of the same length 
 Specify x = [1 2 3 4];y = [1 3 2 4];sz = [80 150 700 50];scatter(x,y,sz) Specify x = [1 2 3 4];y = [1 3 2 4];sz = [80 30; 150 900; 50 2000; 200 350];scatter(x,y,sz) 
Different size for each point  At least one of 
 Specify x = [1 2 3 4];y = [1 6; 3 8; 2 7; 4 9];sz = [80 150 50 700];scatter(x,y,sz) Specify x = [1 2 3 4];y = [1 6; 3 8; 2 7; 4 9];sz = [80 30; 150 900; 50 2000; 200 350];scatter(x,y,sz) 
Data Types: single
 double
 int8
 int16
 int32
 int64
 uint8
 uint16
 uint32
 uint64
c
— Marker color
color name  RGB triplet  matrix of RGB triplets  vector of colormap indices
Marker color, specified as a color name, RGB triplet, matrix of RGB triplets, or a vector of colormap indices.
Color name — A color name such as
"red"
, or a short name such as"r"
.RGB triplet — A threeelement row vector whose elements specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of the color. The intensities must be in the range
[0,1]
; for example,[0.4 0.6 0.7]
. RGB triplets are useful for creating custom colors.Matrix of RGB triplets — A threecolumn matrix in which each row is an RGB triplet.
Vector of colormap indices — A vector of numeric values that is the same length as the
x
andy
vectors.
The way you specify the color depends on the desired color scheme and whether you are plotting one set of coordinates or multiple sets of coordinates. This table describes the most common situations.
Color Scheme  How to Specify the Color  Example 

Use one color for all the points.  Specify a color name or a short name from the table below, or specify one RGB triplet.  Plot one set of points, and specify the color as scatter(1:4,[2 5 3 7],[],"red") Plot two sets of points, and specify the color as red using an RGB triplet. scatter(1:4,[2 5; 1 2; 8 4; 11 9],[],[1 0 0]) 
Assign different colors to each point using a colormap.  Specify a row or column vector of numbers. The numbers map into the current colormap array. The smallest value maps to the first row in the colormap, and the largest value maps to the last row. The intermediate values map linearly to the intermediate rows. If your plot has three points, specify a column vector to ensure the values are interpreted as colormap indices. You can use this method only when  Create a vector c = 1:4;scatter(1:4,[2 5 3 7],[],c)colormap(gca,"winter") 
Create a custom color for each point.  Specify an mby3 matrix of RGB triplets, where m is the number of points in the plot. You can use this method only when  Create a matrix c = [0 1 0; 1 0 0; 0.5 0.5 0.5; 0.6 0 1];scatter(1:4,[2 5 3 7],[],c) 
Create a different color for each data set.  Specify an nby3 matrix of RGB triplets, where n is the number of data sets. You can use this method only when at least one of  Create a matrix c = [1 0 0; 0.6 0 1];s = scatter(1:4,[2 5; 1 2; 8 4; 11 9],[],c) 
Color Names and RGB Triplets for Common Colors
Color Name  Short Name  RGB Triplet  Hexadecimal Color Code  Appearance 

"red"  "r"  [1 0 0]  "#FF0000"  
"green"  "g"  [0 1 0]  "#00FF00"  
"blue"  "b"  [0 0 1]  "#0000FF"  
"cyan"  "c"  [0 1 1]  "#00FFFF"  
"magenta"  "m"  [1 0 1]  "#FF00FF"  
"yellow"  "y"  [1 1 0]  "#FFFF00"  
"black"  "k"  [0 0 0]  "#000000"  
"white"  "w"  [1 1 1]  "#FFFFFF" 
Here are the RGB triplets and hexadecimal color codes for the default colors MATLAB^{®} uses in many types of plots.
RGB Triplet  Hexadecimal Color Code  Appearance 

[0 0.4470 0.7410]  "#0072BD"  
[0.8500 0.3250 0.0980]  "#D95319"  
[0.9290 0.6940 0.1250]  "#EDB120"  
[0.4940 0.1840 0.5560]  "#7E2F8E"  
[0.4660 0.6740 0.1880]  "#77AC30"  
[0.3010 0.7450 0.9330]  "#4DBEEE"  
[0.6350 0.0780 0.1840]  "#A2142F" 
mkr
— Marker symbol
"o"
(default)  "+"
 "*"
 "."
 "x"
 ...
Marker symbol, specified as one of the values listed in this table.
Marker  Description  Resulting Marker 

"o"  Circle  
"+"  Plus sign  
"*"  Asterisk  
"."  Point  
"x"  Cross  
"_"  Horizontal line  
""  Vertical line  
"square"  Square  
"diamond"  Diamond  
"^"  Upwardpointing triangle  
"v"  Downwardpointing triangle  
">"  Rightpointing triangle  
"<"  Leftpointing triangle  
"pentagram"  Pentagram  
"hexagram"  Hexagram 
"filled"
— Option to fill interior of markers
"filled"
Option to fill the interior of the markers, specified as "filled"
. Use this option with markers that have a face, for example, "o"
or "square"
. Markers that do not have a face and contain only edges do not draw ("+"
, "*"
, "."
, and "x"
).
The "filled"
option sets the MarkerFaceColor
property of the Scatter
object to "flat"
and the MarkerEdgeColor
property to "none"
, so the marker faces draw, but the edges do not.
tbl
— Source table
table  timetable
Source table containing the data to plot, specified as a table or a timetable.
xvar
— Table variables containing xcoordinates
one or more table variable indices
Table variables containing the xcoordinates, specified as one or more table variable indices.
Specifying Table Indices
Use any of the following indexing schemes to specify the desired variable or variables.
Indexing Scheme  Examples 

Variable names:


Variable index:


Variable type:


Plotting Your Data
The table variables you specify can contain numeric, categorical, datetime, or duration values.
To plot one data set, specify one variable for xvar
, and one variable for yvar
. For example, read Patients.xls
into the table tbl
. Plot the Diastolic
variable versus the Weight
variable.
tbl = readtable("Patients.xls");scatter(tbl,"Weight","Diastolic")
To plot multiple data sets together, specify multiple variables for xvar
, yvar
, or both. If you specify multiple variables for both arguments, the number of variables must be the same.
For example, plot the Systolic
and Diastolic
variables against the Weight
variable.
scatter(tbl,"Weight",["Systolic","Diastolic"])
You can use different indexing schemes for xvar
and yvar
. For example, specify xvar
as a variable name and yvar
as an index number.
scatter(tbl,"Weight",9)
yvar
— Table variables containing ycoordinates
one or more table variable indices
Table variables containing the ycoordinates, specified as one or more table variable indices.
Specifying Table Indices
Use any of the following indexing schemes to specify the desired variable or variables.
Indexing Scheme  Examples 

Variable names:


Variable index:


Variable type:


Plotting Your Data
The table variables you specify can contain numeric, categorical, datetime, or duration values.
To plot one data set, specify one variable for xvar
, and one variable for yvar
. For example, read Patients.xls
into the table tbl
. Plot the Diastolic
variable versus the Weight
variable.
tbl = readtable("Patients.xls");scatter(tbl,"Weight","Diastolic")
To plot multiple data sets together, specify multiple variables for xvar
, yvar
, or both. If you specify multiple variables for both arguments, the number of variables must be the same.
For example, plot the Systolic
and Diastolic
variables against the Weight
variable.
scatter(tbl,"Weight",["Systolic","Diastolic"])
You can use different indexing schemes for xvar
and yvar
. For example, specify xvar
as a variable name and yvar
as an index number.
scatter(tbl,"Weight",9)
ax
— Target axes
Axes
object  PolarAxes
object  GeographicAxes
object
Target axes, specified as an Axes
object, a PolarAxes
object, or a GeographicAxes
object. If you do not specify the axes and the current axes object is Cartesian, then the scatter
function plots into the current axes.
A convenient way to create scatter plots in polar or geographic coordinates is to use the polarscatter or geoscatter functions.
NameValue Arguments
Specify optional pairs of arguments as Name1=Value1,...,NameN=ValueN
, where Name
is the argument name and Value
is the corresponding value. Namevalue arguments must appear after other arguments, but the order of the pairs does not matter.
Before R2021a, use commas to separate each name and value, and enclose Name
in quotes.
Example: "MarkerFaceColor","red"
sets the marker face color to red.
The Scatter
object properties listed here areonly a subset. For a complete list, see Scatter Properties.
ColorVariable
— Table variable containing color data
table variable index
Table variable containing the color data, specified as a variable index into the source table.
Specifying the Table Index
Use any of the following indexing schemes to specify the desired variable.
Indexing Scheme  Examples 

Variable name:


Variable index:


Variable type:


Specifying Color Data
Specifying the ColorVariable
property controls the colors of the markers. The data in the variable controls the marker fill color when the MarkerFaceColor property is set to "flat"
. The data can also control the marker outline color, when the MarkerEdgeColor is set to "flat"
.
The table variable you specify can contain values of any numeric type. The values can be in either of the following forms:
A column of numbers that linearly map into the current colormap.
A threecolumn array of RGB triplets. RGB triplets are threeelement vectors whose values specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of specific colors. The intensities must be in the range
[0,1]
. For example,[0.5 0.7 1]
specifies a shade of light blue.
When you set the ColorVariable
property, MATLAB updates the CData
property.
Output Arguments
collapse all
s
— Scatter
object
Scatter
object  array of Scatter
objects
Scatter
object or an array of Scatter
objects. Use s
to modify properties of a scatter chart after creating it.
Extended Capabilities
Tall Arrays
Calculate with arrays that have more rows than fit in memory.
Usage notes and limitations:
Supported syntaxes for tall arrays
X
andY
are:scatter(X,Y)
scatter(X,Y,sz)
scatter(X,Y,sz,c)
scatter(___,"filled")
scatter(___,mkr)
scatter(___,Name,Value)
scatter(ax,___)
sz
must be scalar or empty[]
.c
must be scalar or an RGB triplet.Categorical inputs are not supported.
With tall arrays, the
scatter
function plots in iterations, progressively adding to the plot as more data is read. During the updates, a progress indicator shows the proportion of data that has been plotted. Zooming and panning is supported during the updating process, before the plot is complete. To stop the update process, press the pause button in the progress indicator.
For more information, see Visualization of Tall Arrays.
GPU Arrays
Accelerate code by running on a graphics processing unit (GPU) using Parallel Computing Toolbox™.
Usage notes and limitations:
This function accepts GPU arrays, but does not run on a GPU.
For more information, see Run MATLAB Functions on a GPU (Parallel Computing Toolbox).
Distributed Arrays
Partition large arrays across the combined memory of your cluster using Parallel Computing Toolbox™.
Usage notes and limitations:
This function operates on distributed arrays, but executes in the client MATLAB.
For more information, see Run MATLAB Functions with Distributed Arrays (Parallel Computing Toolbox).
Version History
Introduced before R2006a
expand all
R2022b: Plots created with tables preserve special characters in axis and legend labels
When you pass a table and one or more variable names to the scatter
function, the axis and legend labels now display any special characters that are included in the table variable names, such as underscores. Previously, special characters were interpreted as TeX or LaTeX characters.
For example, if you pass a table containing a variable named Sample_Number
to the scatter
function, the underscore appears in the axis and legend labels. In R2022a and earlier releases, the underscores are interpreted as subscripts.
Release  Label for Table Variable "Sample_Number" 

R2022b  
R2022a 
To display axis and legend labels with TeX or LaTeX formatting, specify the labels manually. For example, after plotting, call the xlabel
or legend
function with the desired label strings.
xlabel("Sample_Number")legend(["Sample_Number" "Another_Legend_Label"])
R2021b: Pass tables directly to scatter
Create plots by passing a table to the scatter
function followed by the variables you want to plot. When you specify your data as a table, the axis labels and the legend (if present) are automatically labeled using the table variable names.
See Also
Functions
 hold  plot  scatter3  bubblechart  swarmchart
Properties
 Scatter Properties
Topics
 Plot Dates and Times
 Plot Categorical Data
 Plots That Support Tables
External Websites
 MATLAB PlotGallery
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