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16 Sep 2003 (Updated )

Horizontal errorbar plot.

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HERRORBAR Horizontal Error bar plot.
   HERRORBAR(X,Y,L,R) plots the graph of vector X vs. vector Y with horizontal error bars specified by the vectors L and R. L and R contain the left and right error ranges for each point in X. Each error bar is L(i) + R(i) long and is drawn a distance of L(i) to the right and R(i) to the right the points in (X,Y). The vectors X,Y,L and R must all be the same length. If X,Y,L and R are matrices then each column produces a separate line.
   HERRORBAR(X,Y,E) or HERRORBAR(Y,E) plots X with error bars [X-E X+E].
   HERRORBAR(...,'LineSpec') uses the color and linestyle specified by the string 'LineSpec'. See PLOT for possibilities.
      x = 1:10;
      y = sin(x);
      e = std(y)*ones(size(x));

History notice:
This code was originally posted to the newsgroup, comp.soft-sys.matlab, by me. In 2003 Greg Aloe (The MathWorks) rightfully decided to take ownership, after several unsuccesfull attempts to contact me, and put it on the FEX so that others could benefit from it.
In 2006 I contacted Greg Aloe and we decided to return ownership to me.
I like to thank him for his efforts. Jos


This file inspired Trimmed Spearman Karber Method. and Errorbar X.

MATLAB release MATLAB 6.5 (R13)
Other requirements This function should work with at least MATLAB 5.2 (R10) and later.
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Comments and Ratings (53)
25 Oct 2014 Jos (10584)

you can use UISTACK on the handles returned by HERRORBAR. Something along these lines might work for you:
h = errorbar(...)

With these handles you can also change the properties of the plot symbols and the error bars.

20 Oct 2014 Patricia

Is it possible to either change the order in which the errorbar and marker are plotted? Or is there any other fix that would remove the line that is drawn across the marker, so I can have something like -o-?

15 Oct 2014 Charles

Thanks a lot, really good tool. Had a little bit of trouble figuring out how to change the marker style, color, etc because of the plotting scheme, but I got there eventually.

@Hugh, to remove the vertical lines at either end simply change the "tee" variable to 0 in line 103.

28 Feb 2014 Stan

Great tool, did exactly what I wanted, no second guessing.

26 Nov 2013 Hugh

I am looking to plot a lot of these herrorbars together on one graph, to facilitate this is it possible to reduce the circle size, and also to reduce or even remove the vertical lines at the end of each arm? (Also is it possible to have other markers for the midpoint other than a circle?

26 Nov 2013 Hugh  
27 Aug 2013 Jos (10584)

The length of the vertical line (tee) is determined by the data. You can enforce a minimal tee length by modifying the code a little: add
tee = max(tee,0.2) ;
after line #103 of herrorbar.m

15 Aug 2013 Claire

I am having problems getting the lines at the end of the error bars (like this |--| , right now it's just plotting like this -- ).
Does anyone know how to turn on the end lines? I can't find it in the code anywhere.

03 Jun 2013 Pearl  
04 Mar 2013 Florian


28 Mar 2011 Gerry  
12 Mar 2011 Jos (10584)

@Carlos, to avoid modifying the file, you can easily change the linestyles afterwards:
h = herrorbar(...) ;
set(h(2), 'linestyle', 'none') ;

12 Mar 2011 Carlos

To remove the connecting lines just change
line 148 of the mfile to:
h = [h;plot(x,y,symbol,'LineStyle','none')];

04 Mar 2011 Dan

Nicely done - though I concur with previous problems concerning the height of tee for single points (or multiple points at the same y-value). My work around was to allow y to be longer than x, then clip y to y([1 : length(x)]), but this won't work for non-vector input.

20 Oct 2010 Jos (10584)

@Juha, it is ill-advised to use legend that way. Better get the indices of the plots and use them to create a proper legend.
Also note that this function was written for ML13, and therefore returns 2 handles instead of 1. Use this to your advantage!

h1 = herrorbar(22, 20, 2.74, 'o')
hold on;
h2 = herrorbar(21, 26, 2.63, 'p')
legend([h1(2) h2(2) h2(1)],{'test1', 'test2','error of test2'})

19 Oct 2010 Juha

Messes legend if you use different markers and legend. Try this example and you'll know what I mean:

herrorbar(22, 20, 2.74, 'o')
hold on;
herrorbar(21, 26, 2.63, 'p')
legend('test1', 'test2')

26 Apr 2010 Shirley

It works great, but I have one question: How can I get bigger end markers?

23 Apr 2010 J B  
21 Apr 2010 Jos (10584)

@ J B
You can modify the two handles returned by herrorbar separately, as in:

h = errorbar(x,y,ex) ;
set(h(1),'color','r') ;
set(h(2),'linewidth',2) ;

21 Apr 2010 J B

Has anyone had any success when using the herrorbar function of plotting thin errorbars (i.e. linewidth = 1) yet with a thick line (i.e. linewidth =2) conecting plotted points?

29 Jan 2010 Jos (10584)

@ J B. Please see my comment of 10 dec 2009:

h = errorbar(x,y,ex) ;

28 Jan 2010 J B

great, but can one change 'linewidth'?...or shall i give up trying!

10 Dec 2009 Jos (10584)

@Jordan, @ Andrew
Note that HERRORBAR is based on errorbar R13. As a work around you can get the handle:

h = herrorbar(x,y,ex) ;

and modify its properties using SET. For instance,

set(h,'color',[0.5 0.7 1])

09 Dec 2009 Andrew Stephenson

How do I go about changing the colour to something other than the default 'k, r, g, b' values? When using the errorbar command I can simply type

erroarbar(x,y,ex,'.', 'color',[0.5, 0.7, 1])

but this doesn't work when using herrorbar.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.


05 May 2009 Jordan

How do I put vertical end markers on my horizontal error bars? The code worked great to put them in but I have data points that overlap substantially so I need end markers to show their bounds.


21 Nov 2008 Kim Hansen


I am almost about to give up. How do I remove those crappy connection lines that herrorbar produces. In the normal errorbar i can just write


where e offcourse is the error on the y values which in my case should be added to the x values. So I really want the command to be like this


but that does not work.
Please help

19 Oct 2008 philippe chassot  
10 Sep 2008 Jos (the author)

Dear Aniruddha Sengupta, these incongruencies between errorbar and herrorbar are most likely due to version differences.

01 Sep 2008 Aniruddha Sengupta

Certain specifications, such as 'LineWidth', don't seem to work with "herrorbar" but work perfectly with "errorbar".

16 Nov 2007 S I  
05 Mar 2007 Josh Hanson

Nice. Thank you

28 Sep 2006 Anindo Roy

Great code. I had a question: is there any MATLAB code out there which allows one to errorbars on a bar plot (like Excel does)?
Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

21 Sep 2006 David Sterling

Nice work. Currently won't put an error bar on a single point though... How about changing line 103 to be something like:

tee = max(0.01, (max(y(:))-min(y(:)))/100);

so that there is a default tee height for single points. More generally you might set default tee height to some function of Ylim so error bars show up no matter the Y scale.

31 Aug 2006 Seth G.

Works as described

23 Aug 2006 Jos vdG

To Steven Shimizu:
thanks for your rating. This submission is based on the errorbar function in R10, which does not expand scalar inputs. This feature has only been introduced in more recent releases (>R13).

18 Aug 2006 Steven Shimizu

very good, except you can't just enter the value of the error, (i.e. herrorbar(x,y,0.1), unlike with errorbar. Instead, you have to create a vector of all the same values.

20 Jun 2006 Nadya V

Good job! Thank you.

06 Jun 2006 B L

Very good. Thanks

23 Sep 2005 David Swa

Nice job, this is a very useful tool. Dont forget you can overlay graphs to get both x and y errorbars.

15 Sep 2005 C L

excellent. i have been trying to do this for ages. thankyou.

25 Jul 2005 Eugene Tan

Would like to recommend a change in the code

tee = (max(x(:))-min(x(:)))/100;

changed to using some average of the given error:

tee = mean([u; l])/3;

This will then accomodate single points with errors. You can do the same in the for Matlab's "errorbar" function.

24 May 2005 Josh F

Good stuff. You saved my thesis.

18 May 2005 Rebecca Vislay-Meltzer

This rocks!! Use it with errorbar to plot both x and y error bars. I've had issues with "errorbarxy" function.

22 Feb 2005 Ted R

This function works exactly as advertised. Use it!

14 Feb 2005 Carlos Vargas

Right waht I need, it also saved me a lot of trouble.

12 Jan 2005 Boh Ruffin  
29 Nov 2004 Rem Z

Not robust to log axes.

22 Nov 2004 Jonathan Ashmore

its great, worked first time, thanx heaps, has saved me a whole lot of hassle

26 Apr 2004 Bob Wood

works like errorbar.

28 Jan 2004 Stefan Schlamp  
06 Jan 2004 david wang

very good, you can use
hold on;
to have both horizontal and verical error bars created.

28 Oct 2003 Troy Goodson

I looked at a few of the errorbar functions here. I really like that this is based on the included errorbar.m function as I don't have to learn new input arguments. The only things I think are missing are

- an option to do both horizontal and vertical error bars.

- an option to change the size of the tees on the error bars (MathWorks' errorbar.m doesn't have this, either)

25 Oct 2003 David Koski  

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