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04 Mar 2011 (Updated )

This is a very simple extension of MatLab's bar function to add error bars.

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This acts in the same way as MatLab's bar function but with an additional first parameter containing the errors on the y values.
The y values are plotted using MatLab's bar function.
The x values are determined from the bar plot and used with MatLab's errorbar function to add errorbars to the bar chart that are centred on the column.
Adding an extra dimension to the errors allows for asymmetric errors.
Now also compatible with new graphics introduced in 2014b

MATLAB release MATLAB 7.11 (R2010b)
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Comments and Ratings (48)
17 Dec 2014 Wasim

Any chance you could add an option to control the errorbar tick width, as this code used to do before Matlab 2014b kicked in:

16 Dec 2014 Barbara  
29 Oct 2014 Martina Callaghan

Now updated for 2014b - thanks Jiri for the linke.

28 Oct 2014 Jiri

The fix for 2014b is here:

Love it!

28 Oct 2014 Francesco

As mentioned by others, error bars don't show properly on the new 2014b...

27 Oct 2014 Carl

Great submission - very useful! The instructions are pretty clear as well.

17 Sep 2014 Martina Callaghan

Hi WH,

I do not know why it wouldn't work in 2014b. Something similar was reported for 2013b though it worked in previous versions and in 2014a. I do not use 2014b so haven't tested. Perhaps a Matlab issue that will be ironed out.

17 Sep 2014 WH

This is a very useful script. Thank you!
However, I can get it to work in Matlab 2014a, but it doesn't work in Matlab 2014b trial version. The bars display properly but the error bars didn't. Do you know what the problem is? Thank you!

16 Sep 2014 Parto

Thanks for your quick response. The color of both bars change together to red or green.
for example:

16 Sep 2014 Martina Callaghan

Hi Parto,

For example:
h = barwitherr(randn(3,4), randn(3,4));
set(h(1), 'FaceColor','r')
set(h(2), 'FaceColor','g')

The first parameter will be red and the second parameter will be green.

15 Sep 2014 Parto

Thank you very much for this useful matlab file. I just wanted to know how I can modify each bar separately, for example color?

23 Jul 2014 Elizabeth

Thank you! Works a charm!

13 May 2014 Feifei Zhou  
11 Apr 2014 Jaakko

Nice and clean output. But, something fishy going on with Matlab R2013b. Even the example

y = randn(3,4);
errY = 0.1.*y;
h = barwitherr(errY, y);

spits out error

Error using errorbar (line 74)
X, Y and error bars must all be the same length

Error in barwitherr (line 126)
hErrorbar(col) = errorbar(mean(x,1), values(xOrder,col), lowerErrors(xOrder,col),
upperErrors(xOrder, col), '.k');

With earlier releases barwitherr.m seemed to work fine, and the very latest R2014a works as well, so probably some minor changes/bugs in Matlab internal functions..

28 Feb 2014 Efren

Thank you very much! This is a very good extra. It is nice from you :)

12 Feb 2014 Martina Callaghan

Hi Clare, yes, you can change the line width via:
[hBox hErr] = barwitherr(errY, y);
set(hErr(:), 'LineWidth', 2)

12 Feb 2014 Clare

Very useful submission.
Is it possible to change the line width of the error bars?

09 Feb 2014 Annick

Just got it to do it with the plot editor. all good.

09 Feb 2014 Annick

Really helpful function, thanks! Is there any way to get it to plot a horizontal bar graph? I tried using the "rotate" function but it comes up the error "H must contain axes children only".


20 Jan 2014 Martina Callaghan

Hi Cui, use asymmetric error bars (example in header) and set one error to 0.

20 Jan 2014 Cui

I only want to plot the above half errorbar, how can I do with this function? Thanks very much.

01 Nov 2013 Beate  
25 Sep 2013 Matt


18 Jul 2013 Charles Collin

Very nice function. I changed the last bit (starting at line 107) like so to get rid of the dot in the middle of the error bar.

if nRows > 1
for col = 1:nCols
% Extract the x location data needed for the errorbar plots:
x = get(get(handles.bar(col),'children'),'xdata');
% Use the mean x values to call the standard errorbar fn; the
% errorbars will now be centred on each bar; these are in ascending
% order so use xOrder to ensure y values and errors are too:
ebhandle = errorbar(mean(x,1),values(xOrder,col),lowerErrors(xOrder,col), upperErrors(xOrder, col), '.k');
set(ebhandle, 'Marker', 'none');

x = get(get(handles.bar,'children'),'xdata');
ebhandle = errorbar(mean(x,1),values,errors,'.k');
set(ebhandle, 'Marker', 'none');


12 Jul 2013 Cherkasov Nikolay

Unfortunately it does not work when one deals with the only group. Even the modified built-in example does not work ( y = randn(1,4); errY = zeros(1,4,2); errY(:,:,1) = 0.1.*y; errY(:,:,2) = 0.2.*y; barwitherr(errY, y); )
In order to solve this problem, line 118 should be modified to provide errors more explicitly - like this

12 Jul 2013 Cherkasov Nikolay

Unfortunately it does not work when one deals with the only group. Even the modified built-in example does not work ( y = randn(1,4); errY = zeros(1,4,2); errY(:,:,1) = 0.1.*y; errY(:,:,2) = 0.2.*y; barwitherr(errY, y); )
In order to solve this problem, line 118 should be modified to provide errors more explicitly - like this

24 Jun 2013 Martina Callaghan

Mossi, see the help entry for the file and the help entry for bar (dictates what kind of plots can be created).

You appear to have four parameters in three conditions. So, your data (y) and errors (errY) should each be held in a 3x4 matrix.
h = barwitherr(errY, y);

Use the handles "h" to tailor figure properties/appearance.

24 Jun 2013 Mossi

Thank you so much for the useful function. I could not create a special plot though. Here is the link to the plot picture:


I have created this plot in Excel but could not use Matlab to do it. Could you please guide me on how to use your function for plotting this?

14 Jun 2013 Eric

Very useful function - I added a line to return the handle to the plot, so that existing commands from Matlab's "bar" can still be used with barwitherr:

>handles.bar = bar(varargin{:}); % standard implementation of bar fn
>hold on

h = handles.bar

and then change the function line at the top of the program to:

function h = barwitherr(errors,varargin)

You can then use things like


in your code that calls barwitherr, exactly as you would with calls to 'bar'.

05 Jun 2013 Stratos  
10 May 2013 Brett

Thanks for the program. Aurélien, nice addition, I modified your code a little to allow for different colors for multiple parameters in each group:

edge = [.4 .4 .4;.4 .4 .4;.4 .4 .4];
face = [0 1 0;0 0 1;1 0 0];
for n=1:length(handles.bar) %set colors

10 May 2013 Aurélien BERTIN

I've added the following nice things to change color and bar size :
After line "handles.bar = bar(varargin{:}); % standard implementation of bar fn":
for n=1:length(handles.bar)
set(handles.bar(n),'edgecolor',[.4 .4 .4],'facecolor',[1 0.6 0.2]);
Colors can be even changed for a specified n.

After "hold off":
for n=1:length(h)
clear hh
x = get(hh(2),'xdata');
w = .1; % Horizontal lines width
x(4:9:end) = x(1:9:end)-w/2;
x(7:9:end) = x(1:9:end)-w/2;
x(5:9:end) = x(1:9:end)+w/2;
x(8:9:end) = x(1:9:end)+w/2;

It changes the width, and the aspect of the error bar line. With tha, you should also add an "end" after, the hold off being non longer the termination.

Anyway, very nice program!

27 Apr 2013 Laura  
26 Mar 2013 Armita  
19 Mar 2013 Alexandre  
09 Oct 2012 Brendan Floyd

Simple and works well. Nice job.

04 May 2012 Don Vaughn

Simple. Quick. Easy. Exactly what I was looking for

04 May 2012 Alex

Works great for me, thanks!

16 Nov 2011 Martina Callaghan

Asymmetric errors on 1D/2D data now working.

11 Nov 2011 Jens

The asymmetric errors seem to work only with grouped/2D data

28 Oct 2011 Martina Callaghan

The other options I came across were barerror #9377 & barweb #10803 as noted earlier. They were too complex for what I wanted. This submission is not an extension of any other hence no reference. It is something I find useful and have submitted in case others would too. If not of use, no problem.

28 Oct 2011 Bolu Ajiboye

You stated that you came across other error bar scripts (like barweb, which has been around at least 6 years) but completely failed to acknowledge them.

24 Oct 2011 Martina Callaghan

I have just gotten around to updating this so that it can be called with asymmetric error bars. Add an extra dimension to the erros so as to specify the upper and lower in each. Hope this helps.

19 Oct 2011 sinoTrinity Liu

The errors are symmetric. How can I add asymmetric errors?

25 May 2011 Quoc Viet Hung Nguyen  
09 Mar 2011 Martina Callaghan

The ones I came across (barerror #9377 & barweb #10803) are much more complex. With complexity came the need for extra parameters and less user control.
This submission is just a basic extension of MatLab's bar and errorbar functions, which are cited!
I don't have the time to go through all of the other versions to compare. If you do, feel free to post how you get on.

08 Mar 2011 Zachary Danziger

Sorry, maybe its easier to search for files with file names instead of file IDs:


08 Mar 2011 Zachary Danziger

What is the relevant difference between this code and submission #24718 specifically (or generally submissions #27387, #25613, #9377, or #9541)?

This is not a critique specific to this code, which is probably fine, but is there some way to reach a consensus on which of these functions is best? Or perhaps merge these submissions, or create a new umbrella submission for all of these? At any rate, the author should cite some of these predecessors.

12 Aug 2011

Now accounts for the fact that if x-values are also supplied, they may not be in ascending order.

24 Oct 2011

This version allows for asymmetric errors as requested.

15 Nov 2011

Now allows asymmetric errors on 1D data.

14 Jan 2013

Bug fix: xOrder should be specified when second argument for standard bar function is a width/property.

14 Jun 2013

Returns handle as recommended by Eric in submission comments

08 Jul 2013

Only return handle if requested.

18 Jul 2013

Recent comments addressed via bug fix, appearance update and extra optional output parameter.

27 Aug 2013

Errors always defined in terms of upper and lower, even if symmetric.

29 Oct 2014

Added compatibility with 2014b graphics

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