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Adjust error bar width

version (1.86 KB) by Arnaud Laurent
Adjust error bars width in an errorbar plot to a ratio of the x-axis or a length (x-axis units).


Updated 06 Feb 2009

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Editor's Note: This file was selected as MATLAB Central Pick of the Week

function errorbar_tick(h,w,xtype)
ERRORBAR_TICK Adjust the width of errorbars

ERRORBAR_TICK(H) adjust the width of error bars with handle H. Error bars width is given as a ratio of X axis lenght (1/80).

ERRORBAR_TICK(H,W) adjust the width of error bars with handle H. The input W is given as a ratio of X axis lenght (1/W). The result is independant of the x-axis units. A ratio between 20 and 80 is usually fine.

ERRORBAR_TICK(H,W,'UNITS') adjust the width of error bars with handle H. The input W is given in the units of the curent x-axis.

Cite As

Arnaud Laurent (2021). Adjust error bar width (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

Comments and Ratings (42)

Song Liu

The adaptation from Matt 30 Jan 2015 works.

DS Chen

Works for 2013b but not 2015b
Please update


It does not work in matlab 2016a either


Kai Chan

doesn''t work


it does not work in matlab R2015a. any solutions?


I have used this in the past, but it does not seem to work with MATLAB R2015a.



The same as Tamas and Charlie, I too cannot save the plot in any way with the altered lengths, even attempting to print it to pdf reverts the lengths to automatic.

Does anyone have a workaround for this?

very good for the submission.

Nessima kaabeche

I would like to know if it is possible to include error bars with specific values on each point? (not a percentage)


Hi Matt,

For a non-experienced user, this file is a blessing to use with log graphs, however, I'm struggling with the same problem as Charlie - the changed ticks reset when trying to save the file. Do you have any workaround for this by any chance?

Charlie Demene

Hi Matt

Thank you for your update Matt. Works well in 2014b as long as you don't want to save the figure... When you save it (tried png, eps, fig) the size of the ticks go back to original. Any idea?

Adam Goldsmith

Very simple and works really well, however it receives four stars because I did have issues with a script breaking because of this. The issue turned out to be that the script would try to execute the command before the figure was generated, resulting in an error. Adding pause(1) before the errorbar_tick command solved this.


In order to get this file working with 2014b you can replace the original if/else statement from the "Plot error bars" portion with the following:

if strcmpi(flagtype,'errorbar') % ERRORBAR(...)

x = h.Bar.VertexData(1,:); % Retrieve bar xdata from errorbar
dp = length(x)/3; % 3 data points per error bar
m = 1; % Multiplier for addition/subtraction
for ii = 1:dp
m = -1*m; % Switch between subtraction and addition
x(dp+ii:dp:end) = x(ii)+m*w/2; % Change xdata with respect to the chosen ratio
h.Bar.VertexData(1,1:end) = x;


error('Please enter an ErrorBar object!');


The .VertexData is an undocumented property of the .Bar object (which is also undocumented), used to draw the actually 'error bars' of an ErrorBar object. The first row of VertexData is somewhat of an equivalent to the 'xdata' property currently used by this function.

Tobia vendrametto

It seems a great and useful function, but it is not working with 2014b version.

x = get(hh(2),'xdata');

hh = [ ] and so the error. But I cannot solve it. =(
Can someone?



Always loved this function, but seems to be broken by 2014b :-(

John Trimper

I've used/loved this function for years, but something's going wrong for me tonight. Also the first time I've used it with MatLab 2014b (64bit).

With x values of [1:4], errorbar_tick is moving my 4th point over to an x-value of .08, so the updated series of x values becomes [1 2 3 .08]. I'm totally boggled. Any ideas?

Cengiz Gunay


Josef Pörnbachr

Arnab Banerjee

Works great. For a graph with many errorbar plots this works:
>> h = get(gca,'Children');
>> % h is an array of plot handles
>> errorbar_tick(h(n),200); % etc.


Works great for my linear axis. Thanks for sharing.


What about if the x axis is in log scale?


This function is really helpful!

Note that if you simply find and replace "x" with "y" throughout the code, it then works on horizontal error bars generated by, for example, errorbar_x.



Amanda Whitmire

I really like this function, but I wish it also worked on horizontal error bars (FEX function herrorbar). Otherwise, this is very handy.

Min Liu

Solved my long-standing problem. Thank you~

James Herman

Felipe G. Nievinski

You might want to insert this at line # 39:

if ~isscalar(h)
arrayfun(@(h) errorbar_tick(h,w,xtype), h);

Felipe G. Nievinski

It's great that this function operates on the handle output by the errorbar function, rather than duplicating what the errorbar function already does.

Frank Coumans

Tom Etzer

Lin Li

Anton Daneyko

Tim DuBois


Thanks for sharing your solution! It works fine as long as I one have one error bar series in a plot but I can't get it to work when I have more (as in> errorbar, hold on, errorbar). Do you have a fix for this?


Works great! Thanks a lot!

alex m

good idea, but I'm new to matlab and am unsure of the variables h and xtype, could someone post an example?

Dan Knudsen

Thanks very much! Easy to use and works great.

One quick tip, which is relatively obvious but might be nice to add to the help: If you'd like to get rid of the ticks entirely, it's as easy as calling: errorbar_tick(h,0,'units')

Arnaud Laurent

Re: thanks for your input Sathish, you're right the script wasn't made for log scale. I'll update the file to take care of that.

Sathish Krishnan

cool job!! but the feature does not retain when I change linear scale to log scale(i.e. the width is wider in log scale and is uncontrollable)

Joey Doll


Nice work! This has driven me crazy in the past, but not any more .

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2007b
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
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