View License

Download apps, toolboxes, and other File Exchange content using Add-On Explorer in MATLAB.

» Watch video

Highlights from
tight_subplot(Nh, Nw, gap, marg_h, marg_w)

4.7 | 52 ratings Rate this file 330 Downloads (last 30 days) File Size: 2.03 KB File ID: #27991 Version: 1.01
image thumbnail

tight_subplot(Nh, Nw, gap, marg_h, marg_w)



23 Jun 2010 (Updated )

Fills the figure with axes subplots with easily adjustable margins and gaps between the axes.

Editor's Notes:

This file was selected as MATLAB Central Pick of the Week

| Watch this File

File Information

Subplot tends to leave a lot of empty space around the axes. Tight_subplot allows to adjust the spacing between the axes as well as the margins around the axes.
For example:
[ha, pos] = tight_subplot(3,2,[.01 .03],[.1 .01],[.01 .01])
for ii = 1:6; axes(ha(ii)); plot(randn(10,ii)); end
set(ha(1:4),'XTickLabel',''); set(ha,'YTickLabel','')


This file inspired Subtightplot, Tight Plots, Correlation Matrix Scatterplot, Smplot For Small Multiples, and Tight Subplot With Units In Centimeter.

MATLAB release MATLAB 7.10 (R2010a)
MATLAB Search Path
Tags for This File   Please login to tag files.
Please login to add a comment or rating.
Comments and Ratings (57)
15 Feb 2017 Megan Fowler

This is very helpful! One issue I'm unclear on is how to add a colorbar to one subplot without screwing up the alignment with all the other panels in the figure - is there a fix for this?

20 Jan 2017 Jonas Stein

thank you. PS: The ';' behind the three if-lines are unnecessary.

if numel(gap)==1;

24 Nov 2016 bravomuse

Really useful, thank you!

23 Nov 2016 Grzegorz Knor

11 Nov 2016 Mr.Leung

非常感谢作者提供的函数命令,非常有用!(thank you so much for your this code,it is very helpful to me!)

27 Oct 2016 Jonathan Bent

This really made my dissertation work come together nicely. I've used it hundreds of times, and appreciate it hugely! One question now that I'm using the function to generate some different plots: is it possible to specify that the bottom of two subplots take up less of the figure area than the top? I.e. the top plot would have, say 500 pixels in height, and the bottom 200? Cheers.

11 Aug 2016 mocha

mocha (view profile)

28 Jul 2016 ABehrooz

06 Jun 2016 grega

grega (view profile)

05 Jun 2016 Shawn Mikula

27 Mar 2016 jose mejia

10 Mar 2016 Andrew Diamond

Nice but I had to add a shift parameter to stop my tick labels on the left from being truncated (as per below where the "bias" parameter is a new 2 element vector input arg and just added to the position as follows

'Position',[px+bias(2) py+bias(1) axw axh], ...

I guess it would be nice to have it totally auto centered (not that I know how off the top of my head) but I'm just really happy that you wrote this. Thanks.

03 Mar 2016 Pekka Kumpulainen

This function does not follow subplot's default syntax because this is not subplot but another function. The third input argument is the gap between axes. Not the number-in-order of the axis to set as 'CurrentAxes' of figure as in subplot. See help for description of the input arguments.
There seemed to be an ancient version in Fex, I updated a mre recent version, which makes it easer top live with colorbar and other functions, which modify the positions of existing axes.

Comment only
03 Mar 2016 SL

SL (view profile)

A discussion about the problems in the subplot here where colorbars with an example and subplot's 3rd parameter are discussed.

03 Mar 2016 SL

SL (view profile)

Does not follow subplot's default syntax by omitting the third parameter. Fails with colorbars.

03 Mar 2016 SL

SL (view profile)

01 Mar 2016 Mulberry Son

Perfect! Thank you!

28 Feb 2016 Junia Josephine D

14 Dec 2015 K E

K E (view profile)

You can find tightfig.m here,

Comment only
13 Dec 2015 pingfanyu

Undefined function or variable 'tightfig'.
Why i encountered this problem and how can i do?

Comment only
29 Oct 2015 Natan

Natan (view profile)

this is one of the most useful FEX contributions I have ever encountered. Thank you for the effort!

28 Apr 2015 Ashley Zhang

Excellent function!
Yet I have one problem. When I plot odd number of subplot, say 7 plot arrayed as 4*2, there is always one blank plot that I cannot remove even though I delete the last value in ha.
Any one have any idea to fix it?

* Problem fixed by setting axis, XColor and YColorthe of the last plot invisible.

subplot(ha(8)); set(gca,'Color','none','XColor','none','YColor','none');

11 Feb 2015 Naveen Gowdayyanadoddi

Excellent function. Works fine for me.

06 Feb 2015 Tero

Tero (view profile)

06 Oct 2014 FeedMeImATroll

Excellent function, thanks. The one thing I am missing: Is there a way to connect different subplots, as in subplot(4,2,[1,3,5])?

Comment only
03 Aug 2013 hadi

hadi (view profile)

17 Jul 2013 Petter

Petter (view profile)

tnx, great job

16 Jul 2013 Enrico Fonda

23 Apr 2013 Rina

Rina (view profile)

13 Apr 2013 Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos

this file really helped me! however i have one question. i want to set fixed limits of the x,y axis in each subplot.For example: (axis([0 700 -500 10000])).i tried to do it but with no result. any advice of how can i do this?

11 Mar 2013 Ahmed Fasih

18 Jan 2013 Beth

Beth (view profile)

27 Dec 2012 Felipe G. Nievinski

It's great that it offers variable outer margins in addition to inner gaps. I wish it could support asymmetric plots, where a panel spans multiple rows/columns, though.

01 Nov 2012 Lucas Koorneef

26 Oct 2012 Philip Valencia

Nice, very handy, though by default I prefer my tick labels left on... others who want this might just mod the file.. just remove in the inner loop where it sets the ticks off... i.e.

for ix = 1:Nw
ii = ii+1;
ha(ii) = axes('Units','normalized', ...
'Position',[px py axw axh]);
px = px+axw+gap(2);

22 Oct 2012 Thomas

Thomas (view profile)

17 Sep 2012 Gal Haspel

useful and does what it claims

16 Aug 2012 Giovanni

This is a great script. I'm experiencing a bug that makes my ticks disappear. Here's a sample:

figure('position',[100 100 1000 600])
for a=ha'
xlim(a,[.1 10])
ylim(a,[-90 10])
% 1
scatter(ha(1),x11,10*log10(y11),30,[0 .5 0],'x');
scatter(ha(1),x12,10*log10(y12),30,[0 0 1],'filled');
% 2
scatter(ha(2),x21,10*log10(y21),30,[0 .5 0],'x');
scatter(ha(2),x22,10*log10(y22),30,[0 0 1],'filled');
% 3
scatter(ha(3),x31,10*log10(y31),30,[0 .5 0],'x');
scatter(ha(3),x32,10*log10(y32),30,[0 0 1],'filled');

I would expect to see xticks at .1, 1 and 10, but on my system they simply disappear. If I tried and add them manually the log scale gets screwed up, so there's gotta be another way around. I'm using Matlab R2012a.

09 Jul 2012 Marin

Marin (view profile)

Really excellent file, thank you. Maybe an extra example wouldn't be a bad idea in the comments for the new Matlab user to better learn to use this file.

I have two questions though if I may ask them here...

1. How do i add numbers on the y axis? (only on the rightmost side of course)

2. How do I write x & y labels? (only one that applies to all axis)

Thank you in advance.

02 Jul 2012 alexpapi

28 Jun 2012 Kevin Claytor

Very nice, needed something exactly like this, and it's quite easy to use.

16 Jun 2012 Jiangmin zhang

i cannot do anything but give a five star! absolutely smarter than mathworks!

17 Apr 2012 Aditya

Aditya (view profile)


Great function. Pity I came across it after I spent much of my time writing a similar function. As some people have said above, I wanted the function to work with multiple rows/columns spanning subplots. So I included that capability in the following function:

Just thought it might be useful to some.

17 Apr 2012 Karl

Karl (view profile)

I second what Dan said. Spanning multiple columns/rows would be really useful. For example:
ha = tight_subplot(2,2,0.1,0.1,0.1)
axes(ha([3 4]))plot(x3,y3);

01 Mar 2012 Rakesh Chalasani

17 Jan 2012 Ravi

Ravi (view profile)

Thanks a lot for the script.

10 Jan 2012 Matthew Schroeder

Great work. Would be nice to be able to have the subplots fill a uipanel instead of the entire figure (doesn't play with within a GUI).

Comment only
10 Jan 2012 Matthew Schroeder

10 May 2011 Carlos Baiz

28 Feb 2011 Dan

Dan (view profile)

Nice function, and one that I've come to rely on. It would be great if axes could span multiple columns/rows as you can do using the built-in subplot. Otherwise, great.

27 Feb 2011 Brent Boehlert

Oops -- didn't know that rating the submission meant submitting. Excellent function that saved me tons of time in having to generate graphics through GIS. No clue why the subplot command has this issue, but thanks for addressing it!

27 Feb 2011 Brent Boehlert

26 Dec 2010 kos go

kos go (view profile)

18 Oct 2010 Einar Olason

Excellent little script! Thanks a lot!

Still, I have one suggestion: Instead of saying "axes(ha(ii));" in the example a better way may be to say "subplot(ha(ii));". Using axes gave me unpredictable behaviour when setting up two plots side by side. I would (almost always) plot to the axes on the right, no mater how often I tried giving the "axes(ha(1))" command (or "axes(ha(2))" for that matter). Using subplot solved that. Don't know why though ...

15 Sep 2010 Thomas

Thomas (view profile)

Good work. I needed to create several plots with several sub-plots within a loop. Had trouble with empty plots as the result and Matlab was broke until I restarted it. Even a plot(1:100, rand(1, 100)) would return an empty figure. Anyway, I returned the value for the axes position matrix "ha", and removed the internal axes command. When I was ready to plot in one of the figures I had being created to a specific subplot location I called:

subplot('Position', ha4(fc4).pos); p=plot(1:100, rand(1, 100));

where ha4(fc4).pos corresponds to the fc4'th subplot position in figure with handle "h4".

11 Aug 2010 Alexander

Thank you for this contribution. I like it very much.
In my opinion the input check should be like that:
if nargin<3 || isempty(gap); gap = .02; end
if nargin<4 || isempty(marg_h); marg_h = .05; end
if nargin<5 || isempty(marg_w); marg_w = .05; end

So you can modify marg_w and take the defaults for the other parameters.
tight_subplot(nrows,ncolumns,[],[],[.1 .05]);

02 Jul 2010 Alex

Alex (view profile)

i dont know what mathworks was thinking with their subplot routine... this is much nicer

03 Mar 2016 1.01

Positions of the created axes objects are returned. Allowing to reset the positions after some standard functions, which reposition existing axxes (eg. colorbar)

Contact us