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(Not recommended) Polar coordinate plot

polar is not recommended. Use polarplot instead. For information on updating your code, see Version History.


polar(theta,rho) plots a line in polar coordinates, with theta indicating the angle in radians and rho indicating the radius value for each point. theta and rho must be the same size.


polar(theta,rho,LineSpec) specifies the line style, marker symbol, and color for the lines drawn in the polar plot.

polar(ax,___) plots into the specified axes instead of the current axes (gca).

ln = polar(___) returns the Line object used to create the polar plot. Use ln to modify the polar plot after it is created. For a list of properties, see Line Properties.


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Create a polar plot using a dashed red line.

theta = 0:0.01:2*pi;
rho = sin(2*theta).*cos(2*theta);

Input Arguments

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Angle values, specified as a vector or matrix. Specify the values in radians.

Radius values, specified as a vector or matrix.

Negative rho values reflect through the origin, rotating by pi (since (theta,rho) transforms to (rho*cos(theta),rho*sin(theta))). If you want different behavior, you can manipulate rho prior to plotting. For example, you can set rho equal to max(0,rho) or abs(rho).

Line style, marker, and color, specified as a string scalar or character vector containing symbols. The symbols can appear in any order. You do not need to specify all three characteristics (line style, marker, and color). For example, if you omit the line style and specify the marker, then the plot shows only the marker and no line.

Example: "--or" is a red dashed line with circle markers.

Line StyleDescriptionResulting Line
"-"Solid line

Sample of solid line

"--"Dashed line

Sample of dashed line

":"Dotted line

Sample of dotted line

"-."Dash-dotted line

Sample of dash-dotted line, with alternating dashes and dots

MarkerDescriptionResulting Marker

Sample of circle marker

"+"Plus sign

Sample of plus sign marker


Sample of asterisk marker


Sample of point marker


Sample of cross marker

"_"Horizontal line

Sample of horizontal line marker

"|"Vertical line

Sample of vertical line marker


Sample of square marker


Sample of diamond marker

"^"Upward-pointing triangle

Sample of upward-pointing triangle marker

"v"Downward-pointing triangle

Sample of downward-pointing triangle marker

">"Right-pointing triangle

Sample of right-pointing triangle marker

"<"Left-pointing triangle

Sample of left-pointing triangle marker


Sample of pentagram marker


Sample of hexagram marker

Color NameShort NameRGB TripletAppearance
"red""r"[1 0 0]

Sample of the color red

"green""g"[0 1 0]

Sample of the color green

"blue""b"[0 0 1]

Sample of the color blue

"cyan" "c"[0 1 1]

Sample of the color cyan

"magenta""m"[1 0 1]

Sample of the color magenta

"yellow""y"[1 1 0]

Sample of the color yellow

"black""k"[0 0 0]

Sample of the color black

"white""w"[1 1 1]

Sample of the color white

Target axes, specified as an Axes object. If you do not specify the axes, MATLAB® plots into the current axes or it creates an Axes object if one does not exist. polar does not support plotting into PolarAxes objects.

Extended Capabilities

Version History

Introduced before R2006a

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