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How to create subplots with little vertical spacing?

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Sepp on 13 Aug 2015
I want to do a figure in Matlab consisting of a grid of images (subplots). I have used the subaxis toolbox :
subaxis(4,6,1, 'Spacing', 0.03, 'Padding', 0, 'Margin', 0);
The problem is that the vertical space between the subplots (images) is too big.
How can this be solved? The horizontal spacing is ok but I want the vertical spacing the same as the horizontal spacing. With the above toolbox this seems not working.
I'm also interested in other solutions than the mentioned toolbox.

Accepted Answer

Kelly Kearney
Kelly Kearney on 13 Aug 2015
The subaxis command allows you to specify different values for vertical and horizontal spacing. Try playing around with different values to get what you want. Remember that the spacing/padding/margins are defined in terms of normalized coordinates, so if your figure isn't square, the vertical and horizontal distances won't be quite the same.
For example, the following will give you very little vertical spacing:
iax = 1; % Or whichever
subaxis(4, 6, iax, 'sh', 0.03, 'sv', 0.01, 'padding', 0, 'margin', 0);
Kelly Kearney
Kelly Kearney on 17 Aug 2015
I've added a bunch of comments to the example above to walk you through exactly what each line does.

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More Answers (2)

Cedric Wannaz
Cedric Wannaz on 13 Aug 2015
Edited: Cedric Wannaz on 13 Aug 2015
You can store/use the axis handles of both subplots and access/modify their properties. Here is an example:
t = 0:0.1:10 ;
hAxis(1) = subplot( 2, 1, 1 ) ;
plot( t, sin(t) ) ;
hAxis(2) = subplot( 2, 1, 2 ) ;
plot( t, cos(t) ) ;
This produces:
Then you can access axes properties through their handles. E.g. for querying all available properties:
>> set( hAxis(1) )
ALim: {}
ALimMode: {'auto' 'manual'}
ActivePositionProperty: {'position' 'outerposition'}
Browsing all properties, you realize that the Position property is probably what you need to update. For getting a specific property, e.g. Position:
>> pos = get( hAxis(1), 'Position' )
pos =
0.1300 0.5838 0.7750 0.3412
where the first two coordinates are the horizontal and vertical relative (in [0,1]) coordinates of the origin of the axis with respect to the lower left corner of the figure, and the second two are the relative width and height. Say you want to make the first axis taller and closer to the second:
>> pos(2) = 0.5 ; % Shift down.
>> pos(4) = 0.45 ; % Increase height.
>> set( hAxis(1), 'Position', pos ) ;
and when you execute it, you get:
PS: I would favor this type of approache over 3rd party functions, because it is easy to learn using handles, and then you are really free to design almost whatever you want (e.g. small inserts in larger plots). For this purpose, the last thing that you need to know is the AXES function, which creates a new axes graphic object in a figure. To illustrate:
hAxis(3) = axes( 'Position', [0.66, 0.55, 0.2, 0.2] ) ;
[X,Y,Z] = peaks( 15 ) ;
surf( X, Y, Z);
adds the following insert:
William Chamberlain
William Chamberlain on 5 Oct 2018
jump to use subaxis if you just need to get it done right now (which is generally when I'm Googling for answers), but definitely come back and learn this ASAP, because this is a better solution than subaxis : you can easily set things up literally any way you want, and I'm kicking myself for not learning this a year ago.

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 13 Aug 2015
subaxis(4,6,1, 'Spacing', 0.03, 'Padding', 0, 'Margin', 0, 'SpacingVert', 0.03);

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