Plotting graphs using python and Matplotlib

Plotting graphs using python and Matplotlib

Image for postPhoto by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

This article is about plotting different types of graphs such as line chart, bar chart, pie-chart, and scatter plot using Matplotlib, which is arguably the most popular graphing and data visualization library for Python.

Graphs are mathematical structures that represent pairwise relationships between objects.


Matplotlib is a Python 2D plotting library. The easiest way to install matplotlib is to use pip. Type following command in terminal:

pip install matplotlib

or, you can download it from here and install it manually.

Steps involved in plotting a graph

  • Define the x-axis and corresponding y-axis values as lists.
  • Plot them on canvas using .plot() function.
  • Give a name to x-axis and y-axis using .xlabel() and .ylabel() functions.
  • Give a title to your plot using .title() function.
  • Finally, to view your plot, we use .show() function.

The pseudocode looks like this.

import the library

define the x-axis list

define the y-axis list

plot function(plt.plot(), plt.scatter(),, plt.pie(), plt.histi())




show function

Plotting a line

python program to plot lines

The code seems self-explanatory. Following steps were followed:

  • Define the x-axis and corresponding y-axis values as lists.
  • Plot them on canvas using .plot() function.
  • Give a name to x-axis and y-axis using .xlabel() and .ylabel() functions.
  • Give a title to your plot using .title() function.
  • Finally, to view your plot, we use .show() function.

The output of the above code looks like this.

codesimple.infoline graph

Plotting two or more lines on the same plot

The following code plots the marks secured by three different students. Three lines will be plotted in this case.

plot multiple lines

  • We differentiate between the lines by giving them a name(label) which is passed as an argument of .plot() function.
  • The small rectangular box giving information about the type of line and its color is called ?legend?. We can add a legend to our plot using .legend() function. This will take the label?s value.

The output looks like this.

Image for postmultiple lines graph

Scatter plot

Scatter plots are used to plot data points on a horizontal and a vertical axis in the attempt to show how much one variable is affected by another. Each row in the data table is represented by a marker whose position depends on its values in the columns set on the X and Y axes.

scatter() function is used to plot the scatter-plot graph.

plt.scatter(x, y, label= “stars”, color= “green”, marker= “*”, s=30)

  • The label is the marker?s name on the legend. All the possible marker values can be found here.
  • ?s? is the size of the marker.

The plotted graph looks like this.

Image for postscatter plot


A pie chart (or a circle chart) is a circular statistical graphic, which is divided into slices to illustrate numerical proportions. In a pie chart, the arc length of each slice (and consequently its central angle and area), is proportional to the quantity it represents.

pie() function is used to plot the pie-chart graph.

plt.pie(proprotions, labels = items, colors=colors, startangle=90, shadow = True, explode = (0, 0, 0.1, 0),radius = 1.2, autopct = ‘%1.1f%%’)

These attributes can be explained easily with the following code.

  • explode : array-like, optional, default: None. I am setting an explode value to the first item and hence the slice corresponding to ?Samsung? gets a split-effect.

If not None, is a len(x) array that specifies the fraction of the radius with which to offset each wedge.

  • labels : list, optional, default: None

A sequence of strings providing the labels for each wedge

  • colors : array-like, optional, default: None

A sequence of matplotlib color args through which the pie chart will cycle. If None, will use the colors in the currently active cycle.

  • autopct : None (default), string, or function, optional

If not None, is a string or function used to label the wedges with their numeric value. The label will be placed inside the wedge. If it is a format string, the label will be fmt%pct. If it is a function, it will be called.

  • shadow : bool, optional, default: False

Draw a shadow beneath the pie.

  • startangle : float, optional, default: None

If not None, rotates the start of the pie chart by angle degrees counterclockwise from the x-axis.

  • radius : float, optional, default: None

The radius of the pie, if the radius is None it will be set to 1.

Image for postpie chart

Bar Chart

A bar chart or bar graph is a chart or graph that presents categorical data with rectangular bars with heights or lengths proportional to the values that they represent. The bars can be plotted vertically or horizontally. A vertical bar chart is sometimes called a column chart.

The output of the bar chart looks like this.

Image for postvertical bar graph

  • tick_label : string or array-like, optional. The tick labels of the bars. Default: None (Use default numeric labels.)
  • user plt.barh() function to draw horizontal graphs.

Image for posthorizontal bar chart


A histogram is a graphical display of data using bars of different heights. In a histogram, each bar group numbers into ranges. Taller bars show that more data falls in that range.

histtype : {?bar?, ?barstacked?, ?step?, ?stepfilled?}, optional. The function uses the bar for default.

bins: number of bars that we want in our graph.

range: units on the x-axis. Specify this value according to the values you have in the list.

Image for posthistogram

Customization of graphs

Graphs can be customized by altering various properties such as color, line style, line width, marker, markerfacecolor, marker size, etc.


plt.plot(x, y, color=’green’, linestyle=’dashed’, linewidth = 3, marker=’o’, markerfacecolor=’blue’, markersize=12)

various other properties can be found here.

The below graph is a customized graph.

Image for postcustomized graph


matplotlib.pyplot.plot – Matplotlib 3.3.1 documentation

Plot y versus x as lines and/or markers. Call signatures: The coordinates of the points or line nodes are given by x?


Hope this article is helpful. If you want to read more python articles check out the blog below.

Happy coding!

Python coders

This blog helps you learn and understand python effectively with code snippets and examples. This blog is intended for?


No Responses

Write a response