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Demystifying Axis Labeling in Matlab


Matlab is a popular programming language used by many professionals in various industries. It is well-known for its numerical computing capabilities and visualization tools. One of its most important visualization tools is the ability to plot graphs and charts. However, a graph is not complete without labeled axis. The labeling of axis allows the viewer to accurately interpret the data and understand the context of the plot.

Understanding Axis Labels

Axis labels are an essential part of any graph or chart. They give the viewer a clear understanding of the data points and help them interpret the plot. Axis labels consist of two parts: the vertical axis, which is also known as the y-axis, and the horizontal axis, which is also known as the x-axis. These labels show the range of values represented on the graph. Typically, the vertical axis shows the dependent variable, while the horizontal axis shows the independent variable.

How to Label Axis in Matlab

Matlab is an efficient tool for producing plots and charts. Its plotting functions are easy to use and offer a variety of options for customization. To label the axis in Matlab, you must first create a plot using one of the plotting functions such as ‘plot’, ‘scatter’, or ‘bar’. Once the plot is created, you can label the vertical and horizontal axis using the ‘xlabel’ and ‘ylabel’ functions.

Labeling the Vertical Axis (Y-Axis)

Labeling the vertical axis in Matlab is quite simple. You can use the ‘ylabel’ function to add a label to the vertical axis. Here is an example:

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ylabel(‘Temperature (Celsius)’);

In this example, we have created a plot with the ‘plot’ function and labeled the y-axis with the ‘ylabel’ function. The label we chose for the y-axis is ‘Temperature (Celsius)’. You can replace this label with any other relevant label depending on the data you are plotting.

Labeling the Horizontal Axis (X-Axis)

Labeling the horizontal axis in Matlab is similar to labeling the vertical axis. You can use the ‘xlabel’ function to add a label to the horizontal axis. Here is an example:

xlabel(‘Days of the Week’);

In this example, we have created a bar chart with the ‘bar’ function and labeled the x-axis with the ‘xlabel’ function. The label we chose for the x-axis is ‘Days of the Week’. Once again, you can replace this label with any other relevant label depending on the data you are plotting.


Labeling axis in Matlab is a crucial step in creating a complete and informative plot. By using the ‘xlabel’ and ‘ylabel’ functions, you can easily add labels to your plots’ vertical and horizontal axis. Remember to choose clear and concise labels that accurately reflect the data points you are representing on the graph. With proper axis labeling, your viewers will be able to understand the plot and make informed conclusions based on the data.

Basic Axis Labeling in Matlab

Before we delve into more advanced techniques of axis labeling in Matlab, let’s familiarize ourselves with the basic options. First, we need to label our x and y axis by assigning a title. This can be done by using the functions xlabel() and ylabel(), respectively. For instance:

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Alternatively, we can assign variable names to the axis labels:

xLabel = ‘Time (seconds)’;
yLabel = ‘Distance (meters)’;

To modify the font size and color of the axis label, we need to use the FontSize and Color properties of the labels. Here’s an example:


The value 12 corresponds to the font size, while ‘k’ stands for the color black. Other color options include red (‘r’), blue (‘b’), green (‘g’), and so on.

Adding Mathematical Symbols to Axis Labels

Matlab allows us to add mathematical symbols, such as Greek letters and operators, to our axis labels using LaTeX syntax. For instance:

xLabel = ‘$$theta$$ (degrees)’;
yLabel = ‘$$frac{1}{2}mv^2$$ (Joules)’;

The double dollar signs before and after the symbol indicate that it is to be processed as LaTeX code. We also need to set the Interpreter property to ‘latex’. Note that some symbols may require special syntax in LaTeX, such as the backslash () for operators like alpha and beta.

Rotating Axis Labels

If our axis label text is too long, it may overlap with tick labels or be difficult to read. One way to solve this is by rotating the labels. This can be done by using the rotation property. For instance:


The 45 value stands for the angle of rotation in degrees. Negative values rotate the label counterclockwise, while positive values rotate it clockwise. By default, the axis label is aligned horizontally (0 degrees).

Multiple Lines in Axis Labels

Sometimes we may want to insert line breaks or multiple lines in our axis labels. We can achieve this using the newline character (n) or the cell array data type. For instance:

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yLabel = {‘Amplitude’ ; ‘Voltage (V)’};

The cell array {‘Amplitude’ ; ‘Voltage (V)’} contains two strings separated by a semicolon (;), indicating the start of a new line. We can also use the newline character directly:

yLabel = ‘AmplitudenVoltage (V)’;

Both options produce the same result, which is a label with two lines stacked vertically.


By using the techniques described in this article, we can customize our Matlab plots in a variety of ways, from changing the font size and color of our axis labels to adding mathematical symbols and special characters. Rotating and splitting axis labels can also improve readability and organization of our plots.

Video: Demystifying Axis Labeling in Matlab