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RE: st: Absolute point size in Stata schemes

From   "Dupont, William" <>
To   <>
Subject   RE: st: Absolute point size in Stata schemes
Date   Thu, 5 Oct 2006 16:38:33 -0500


In many situations I agree with you.  I do think, however, that the context in which the graph is displayed is also very important.  If you are designing a graph for a lecture then it matters whether your audience is 20 or 200 people.  Regardless of its complexity a graph is of little use if your audience cannot read it.  Hence, text size needs to be related to the size of the viewing screen and the distance between the audience and the screen.

On the other hand, if you are writing a book then the reader is always the same distance from the page.  Publishers are always tempted to cut costs by reducing figure sizes so that the absolute text size is fairly constant.  If you want your more complex or detailed graphs to be larger than your simple ones then it is prudent to make sure that the text size of your figures is fairly uniform before you send them to your publisher.  Also, in any book, it makes esthetic sense to pick a legible text size and stick with it.  Hence, it would be convenient in this circumstance to be able to set a uniform text size automatically.

Of course, this is a minor point and I am grateful that Stata gives us as much control as it does.  However, there is so much that Stata does allow that I thought it was worth asking if there was a simple way to set a default absolute text size across many graphs.

Thank you for your responses.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Svend Juul
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 3:50 PM
Subject: RE: st: Absolute point size in Stata schemes 

Bill wrote:
The scale option is very useful.  Still it would be nice if it were possible to choose between absolute and relative sizes when designing Stata schemes.  The scale option does require a little trial and error to get the precise appearance that one is looking for.

To me it is not a choice between absolute and relative size. This is hardly an exact science, but to get a visually appealing - and readable - graph, I think that:
- for a small graph, use a small absolute, but a large relative text size.
- for a large graph, use a large absolute, but a small relative text size.
Illustrated by these examples:
1.  twoway (scatter mpg weight), xsize(6) ysize(4) 2.  twoway (scatter mpg weight), xsize(3) ysize(2) 3.  twoway (scatter mpg weight), xsize(3) ysize(2) scale(2) 4.  twoway (scatter mpg weight), xsize(3) ysize(2) scale(1.5)
Example 1 and 2 have the same relative text and marker size; example 2 is hardly readable.
Example 1 and 3 have the same absolute text and marker size; example 3 is ugly, in my mind.
Example 4 is a decent compromise.
It may be possible to create a formula taking these things into account, and to make a wrapper for graph commands utilizing the formula, but I am not sure that it is worth the effort.
Svend Juul
Institut for Folkesundhed, Afdeling for Epidemiologi (Institute of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology) Vennelyst Boulevard 6 DK-8000 Aarhus C,  Denmark Phone, work:  +45 8942 6090 Phone, home:  +45 8693 7796 
Fax:          +45 8613 1580 

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