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Create chart with two y-axes


yyaxis left
yyaxis right



yyaxis left activates the side of the current axes associated with the left y-axis. Subsequent graphics commands target the left side. If the current axes do not include two y-axes, then this command adds a second y-axis. If there are no axes, then this command first creates them.

yyaxis right activates the side of the current axes associated with the right y-axis. Subsequent graphics commands target the right side.


yyaxis(ax,___) specifies the active side for the axes ax instead of the current axes. If the axes do not include two y-axes, then this command adds a second y-axis. Specify the axes as the first input argument. Use single quotes around 'left' and 'right'.


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Create axes with a y-axis on both the left and right sides. Plot a set of data against the left y-axis. Then, use yyaxis right to activate the right side so that subsequent graphics functions target it. Plot a second set of data against the right y-axis and set the limits for the right y-axis.

x = linspace(0,10);
y = sin(3*x);
yyaxis left

z = sin(3*x).*exp(0.5*x);
yyaxis right
ylim([-150 150])

Create a chart with two y-axes and add a title and axis labels to each side.

Load the matrix hwydata from the example file accidents.mat. Create a scatter plot of the fifth column in hwydata against the left y-axis. Add a title and axis labels.

ind = 1:51;
drivers = hwydata(:,5);
yyaxis left
title('Highway Data')
ylabel('Licensed Drivers (thousands)')

Create a second scatter plot of the seventh column in hwydata against the right y-axis. Then, label the right y-axis.

pop = hwydata(:,7);
yyaxis right
ylabel('Vehicle Miles Traveled (millions)')

Plot two lines against the left y-axis by using the hold on command.

x = linspace(0,10);
yl1 = sin(x);
yl2 = sin(x/2);
yyaxis left
hold on

Plot two lines against the right y-axis. The hold command affects both the left and right y-axes, so you do not need to reissue it. After plotting, turn hold back off.

yr1 = x;
yr2 = x.^2;
yyaxis right
hold off

Clear the left side by making it active and then using the cla command.

yyaxis left

Create a figure with two subplots and assign the Axes objects to variables ax1 and ax2. Add a second y-axis to the upper subplot by specifying ax1 as the first input to yyaxis. If you do not specify the axes, then yyaxis adds a second y-axis to the current axes.

x = linspace(1,10);
ax1 = subplot(2,1,1);

ax2 = subplot(2,1,2);

Input Arguments

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Target axes, specified as an Axes object. If you do not specify an Axes object, then yyaxis uses the current axes.


  • When working with two y-axes, you cannot:

    • Rotate the axes (2-D view only).

    • Pin annotations.

    • Copy the axes object using copyobj.


  • To determine which side of the axes is active, query the YAxisLocation property for the Axes object. The property is set to 'left' when the left side is active and 'right' when the right side is active. The YAxisLocation property for an Axes object with two y-axes is read only.

  • To clear the active side, use cla. To clear both sides of the axes and remove the right y-axis, use cla reset. Alternatively, you can wait to clear both sides and remove the right y-axis until the next plotting command by setting the NextPlot property of the Axes object to 'replaceall'.


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Grid Lines

Grid lines correspond with the tick mark locations along the left y-axis.

Colors and Line Styles

Plots associated with a particular side of the axes use the same color as the y-axis on that side. If a side contains multiple lines, then the lines cycle through the line style order. The left y-axis uses the first color in the color order of the Axes object, and the right y-axis uses the second color.

If you add a second y-axis to an Axes object that contains charts, then the existing charts and the left y-axis do not change colors. The right y-axis uses the next color in the color order.

Axes Properties

Axes properties related to the y-axis have two values. However, MATLAB® gives access only the value for the active side. For example, if the left side is active, then the YLim property of the axes object contains the limits for the left y-axis. Similarly, if the right side is active, then the YLim property contains the limits for the right y-axis.

An exception is that the YAxis property of the Axes object contains an array of two ruler objects (one for each y-axis). You can use the rulers to access each y-axis without depending on the active side. For an example, see Modify Properties of Charts with Two y-Axes.

Introduced in R2016a