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Changing Axes Properties

This example shows how to get properties of an axes in MATLAB® and change axes property values to customize your graph.

Axes Objects

All plots are contained within an axes.

x = linspace(0,12);
y = 10*exp(-0.65*x);

figure
plot(x,y)

The gca function returns the current axes for the current figure. Like all graphics objects, axes have properties that you can view and modify. These properties have default values. The display of the axes object, ax, shows the most commonly used axes properties, such as XLim, YLim, XScale, and YScale.

ax = gca
ax = 
  Axes with properties:

             XLim: [0 12]
             YLim: [0 10]
           XScale: 'linear'
           YScale: 'linear'
    GridLineStyle: '-'
         Position: [0.1300 0.1100 0.7750 0.8150]
            Units: 'normalized'

  Show all properties

Get Individual Axes Properties

To access individual properties, use dot notation syntax object.PropertyName. For example, return the x-axis limits.

ax.XLim
ans = 

     0    12

Change Commonly Used Axes Properties

Several functions are available to change axes properties. For example, use the axis function to change the axes scaling and appearance.

axis square

Use the xlim, ylim, and zlim functions to change the axes limits.

xlim([0 10])

Use the xlabel, ylabel, and zlabel functions to label the axes.

xlabel('x')
ylabel('exp(x)')

Change Other Axes Properties

To customize the look of the axes, change property values using dot notation syntax object.PropertyName.

ax.YScale = 'log';    % set y-axis to logarithmic scaling
ax.FontSize = 12;     % set font size for axes labels
ax.XGrid = 'on';      % draw gridlines perpendicular to x-axis
ax.YGrid = 'on';      % draw gridlines perpendicular to y-axis

Get All Axes Properties

Graphics objects in MATLAB have many properties. To see all the properties of an object, use the get command.

get(ax)
                       ALim: [0 1]
                   ALimMode: 'auto'
     ActivePositionProperty: 'outerposition'
          AmbientLightColor: [1 1 1]
               BeingDeleted: 'off'
                        Box: 'on'
                   BoxStyle: 'back'
                 BusyAction: 'queue'
              ButtonDownFcn: ''
                       CLim: [0 1]
                   CLimMode: 'auto'
             CameraPosition: [5 5.0050 17.3205]
         CameraPositionMode: 'auto'
               CameraTarget: [5 5.0050 0]
           CameraTargetMode: 'auto'
             CameraUpVector: [0 1 0]
         CameraUpVectorMode: 'auto'
            CameraViewAngle: 6.6086
        CameraViewAngleMode: 'auto'
                   Children: [1×1 Line]
                   Clipping: 'on'
              ClippingStyle: '3dbox'
                      Color: [1 1 1]
                 ColorOrder: [7×3 double]
            ColorOrderIndex: 2
                  CreateFcn: ''
               CurrentPoint: [2×3 double]
            DataAspectRatio: [5 4.9950 1]
        DataAspectRatioMode: 'auto'
                  DeleteFcn: ''
                  FontAngle: 'normal'
                   FontName: 'Helvetica'
                   FontSize: 12
              FontSmoothing: 'on'
                  FontUnits: 'points'
                 FontWeight: 'normal'
                  GridAlpha: 0.1500
              GridAlphaMode: 'auto'
                  GridColor: [0.1500 0.1500 0.1500]
              GridColorMode: 'auto'
              GridLineStyle: '-'
           HandleVisibility: 'on'
                    HitTest: 'on'
              Interruptible: 'on'
    LabelFontSizeMultiplier: 1.1000
                      Layer: 'bottom'
                     Legend: [0×0 GraphicsPlaceholder]
             LineStyleOrder: '-'
        LineStyleOrderIndex: 1
                  LineWidth: 0.5000
             MinorGridAlpha: 0.2500
         MinorGridAlphaMode: 'auto'
             MinorGridColor: [0.1000 0.1000 0.1000]
         MinorGridColorMode: 'auto'
         MinorGridLineStyle: ':'
                   NextPlot: 'replace'
              OuterPosition: [0 0 1 1]
                     Parent: [1×1 Figure]
              PickableParts: 'visible'
         PlotBoxAspectRatio: [1 1 1]
     PlotBoxAspectRatioMode: 'manual'
                   Position: [0.1300 0.1100 0.7750 0.8150]
                 Projection: 'orthographic'
                   Selected: 'off'
         SelectionHighlight: 'on'
                 SortMethod: 'childorder'
                        Tag: ''
                    TickDir: 'in'
                TickDirMode: 'auto'
       TickLabelInterpreter: 'tex'
                 TickLength: [0.0100 0.0250]
                 TightInset: [0.0111 0.0943 0 0.0238]
                      Title: [1×1 Text]
    TitleFontSizeMultiplier: 1.1000
            TitleFontWeight: 'bold'
                       Type: 'axes'
              UIContextMenu: [0×0 GraphicsPlaceholder]
                      Units: 'normalized'
                   UserData: []
                       View: [0 90]
                    Visible: 'on'
                      XAxis: [1×1 NumericRuler]
              XAxisLocation: 'bottom'
                     XColor: [0.1500 0.1500 0.1500]
                 XColorMode: 'auto'
                       XDir: 'normal'
                      XGrid: 'on'
                     XLabel: [1×1 Text]
                       XLim: [0 10]
                   XLimMode: 'manual'
                 XMinorGrid: 'off'
                 XMinorTick: 'off'
                     XScale: 'linear'
                      XTick: [0 2 4 6 8 10]
                 XTickLabel: {6×1 cell}
             XTickLabelMode: 'auto'
         XTickLabelRotation: 0
                  XTickMode: 'auto'
                      YAxis: [1×1 NumericRuler]
              YAxisLocation: 'left'
                     YColor: [0.1500 0.1500 0.1500]
                 YColorMode: 'auto'
                       YDir: 'normal'
                      YGrid: 'on'
                     YLabel: [1×1 Text]
                       YLim: [0.0100 10]
                   YLimMode: 'auto'
                 YMinorGrid: 'on'
                 YMinorTick: 'on'
                     YScale: 'log'
                      YTick: [0.0100 0.1000 1 10]
                 YTickLabel: {4×1 cell}
             YTickLabelMode: 'auto'
         YTickLabelRotation: 0
                  YTickMode: 'auto'
                      ZAxis: [1×1 NumericRuler]
                     ZColor: [0.1500 0.1500 0.1500]
                 ZColorMode: 'auto'
                       ZDir: 'normal'
                      ZGrid: 'off'
                     ZLabel: [1×1 Text]
                       ZLim: [-1 1]
                   ZLimMode: 'auto'
                 ZMinorGrid: 'off'
                 ZMinorTick: 'off'
                     ZScale: 'linear'
                      ZTick: [-1 0 1]
                 ZTickLabel: ''
             ZTickLabelMode: 'auto'
         ZTickLabelRotation: 0
                  ZTickMode: 'auto'

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