[G-1] graph editor -- Graph Editor
Remarks are presented under the following headings:
Starting and stopping the Graph Editor
The Pointer Tool
Add Text Tool
Add Line Tool
Add Marker Tool
Grid Edit Tool
The Object Browser
Right-click Menus, or Contextual Menus
The Standard Toolbar
The main Graph Editor menu
Tips, tricks, and quick edits
Start the Editor by right-clicking on any graph and selecting Start Graph
Editor. Select any of the tools along the left of the Editor to edit the
graph. The Pointer Tool is selected by default.
Change the properties of objects or drag them to new locations by using
the Pointer. As you select objects with the Pointer, a Contextual
Toolbar will appear just above the graph. Use any of the controls on the
Contextual Toolbar to immediately change the most important properties of
the selected object. Right-click on an object to access more properties
and operations. Hold the Shift key when dragging objects to constrain
the movement to horizontal, vertical, or 90-degree angles.
Do not be afraid to try things. If you do not like a result, change it
back with the same tool, or click on the Undo button in the Standard
Toolbar (below the main menu). Edit > Undo in the main menu does the
Add text, lines, or markers (with optional labels) to your graph by using
the three Add ... tools. Lines can be changed to arrows with the
Contextual Toolbar. If you do not like the default properties of the
added objects, simply change their settings in the Contextual Toolbar
before adding the text, line, or marker. The new setting will then be
applied to all subsequently added objects, even in future Stata sessions.
Remember to reselect the Pointer Tool when you want to drag objects or
change their properties.
Move objects on the graph and have the rest of the objects adjust their
position to accommodate the move with the Grid Edit Tool. With this
tool, you are repositioning objects in the underlying grid that holds the
objects in the graph. Some graphs, for example, by-graphs, are composed
of nested grids. You can reposition objects only within the grid that
contains them; they cannot be moved to other grids.
You can also select objects in the Object Browser to the right of the
graph. This window shows a hierarchical listing of the objects in the
graph. Clicking or right-clicking on an object in the Browser is the
same as clicking or right-clicking on the object in the graph.
You can record your edits and play them back on other graphs. Click on
the Start Recording button in the Standard Toolbar to begin recording;
all ensuing edits are recorded. Click on the same button to end the
recording. You will be prompted to name the recording. While editing
another graph, click on the Play Recording button and select your
recording from the list. Your recorded edits will be applied to the
graph. You can also play recorded edits from the command line when a
graph is created or used from disk. See the play(recordingname) option
in [G-3] std_options and [G-2] graph use.
Stop the Editor by selecting File > Stop Graph Editor from the main menu.
You must stop the Graph Editor to enter Stata commands.
Start editing graphs now, or read on for a gentler introduction that
discusses some nuances of the Editor.
With Stata's Graph Editor you can change almost anything on your graph.
You can add text, lines, arrows, and markers wherever you would like. As
you read through this documentation (or at least on your second reading),
we recommend that you open Stata, draw a graph, and try what is
described. If you are surprised by a result, or do not like how
something looks, you can always undo the operation by pressing the Undo
button on the Standard Toolbar (more on that later) or by selecting Edit
> Undo from the main menu.
Starting and stopping the Graph Editor
To start the Editor, 1) right-click within the Graph window and select
Start Graph Editor, 2) select File > Start Graph Editor from the main
menu, or 3) click on the Start Graph Editor button in the toolbar.
To close the Editor, 1) right-click within the Graph window and select
Stop Graph Editor, 2) select File > Stop Graph Editor from the main menu,
or 3) click on the Stop Graph Editor button in the toolbar.
When in the Editor, you cannot execute Stata commands. In fact, the
Command window is grayed out and will not accept input.
When the Graph Editor starts, you will notice several changes to the
Graph window. The most important is the addition of a Tools Toolbar to
the left of the graph. (You can move this toolbar under Microsoft
Windows, and if you have previously moved it, it will appear wherever you
last placed it.) This toolbar holds the tools you use to edit graphs.
There are other changes to the window, but ignore these for now.
To use any tool, simply click on that tool. The selected tool will remain
in effect until you select another tool.
You are always using one of the tools. When you first start the Editor,
the Pointer Tool is active.
The Pointer Tool
With the Pointer Tool you can select objects, drag objects, or modify the
properties of objects. For example, you can select a title and by
holding the left mouse button drag that title to another position on the
graph. Hold the Shift key while dragging to constrain the direction to
horizontal, vertical, or a 90-degree angle from the original position.
A few graph objects cannot be moved with the Pointer, in particular,
axes, plot regions, and plots. Moving these objects would almost
certainly distort the information in the graph. You can reposition these
objects by using the Grid Editor Tool with a better chance of not
distorting the information; more on that later.
Some objects cannot by default be repositioned, but you can right-click
on many of these objects and select Unlock Position from the resulting
menu. The object can then be repositioned by dragging. If you want to
relock the object's position on the graph, just right-click on the object
and select Lock Position. In the same way, you can lock the position of
objects that can normally be dragged.
When you select an object -- whether a title, axis, legend, scatterplot,
line plot, etc. -- you will notice that a toolbar appears (or changes)
immediately above the graph. This is the Contextual Toolbar, with which
you can immediately change the most important properties of the selected
object: color, text size, or even text for titles and other text
objects; marker color, marker size, or marker symbol for scatterplots;
etc. Try it. Select something in the graph and change one of the
properties in the Contextual Toolbar: the change is immediately reflected
on the graph.
Only the most important properties are shown on the Contextual Toolbar.
Most objects have many more settable properties. You can see and change
all of an object's properties by selecting the More... button on the
right of the Contextual Toolbar or by double-clicking on the object. You
will be presented with a dialog box with all of the object's properties.
Change one or more of those properties. Then click on Apply if you want
to see the changes on the graph and continue changing properties, or
click on OK to apply the properties and dismiss the dialog box. Click on
Cancel to dismiss the dialog without applying any of the edits since you
last clicked on Apply.
Almost anything that you can do to change the look of an object with the
graph command, you can also do with the object's dialog box.
As with dragging, any changes made from the object toolbar or the dialog
boxes can be reversed by clicking on the Undo button or by selecting Edit
> Undo from the main menu.
Add Text Tool
You add text by using the Add Text Tool in the Tools Toolbar. Select the
Add Text Tool and then click anywhere in your graph that you would like
to add some text. You will be presented with the text dialog box. Type
your text in the Text control. You can change how the text looks on the
graph by changing the properties on the dialog, or select the text later
with the Pointer and make changes then.
If the text is not exactly where you want it, switch to the Pointer and
drag the text to the desired position.
As with text options in the graph command, you can create multiline text
by placing each line in quotation marks. For example, "The little red
hen" "baked bread" will appear as two lines of text. If you have text
with embedded quotes, use compound quotes to bind the line, for example,
`"She said to "use compound quotes" in such cases"'.
When you select the Add Text Tool, the Contextual Toolbar shows the
properties for the tool. Any changes you make to the properties on the
toolbar will be recorded as new default settings. These new settings are
then used on all added text. In fact, these settings are stored and will
be used on added text whenever you reopen the Graph Editor, either in
your current Stata session or in future Stata sessions. When setting new
default properties, you are not limited to the settings available on the
Contextual Toolbar; you can also select the More... button to bring up a
dialog box with the complete set of text properties. Any changes made
and saved there will also become new defaults for adding text. If you
want to change back to the default settings from when Stata was
installed, select the Advanced tab on the dialog and click on Reset
Add Line Tool
You add lines and arrows by using the Add Line Tool, which is located
below the Add Text Tool in the Tools Toolbar. To add a line, click
within the graph to establish a starting point, and hold the left mouse
button while dragging to the ending point. The line's path is shown as
you drag, and the line is added when you release the left button. If you
want an arrow rather than a line, click on the Pointer Tool and then
select whether you want the arrowhead at the beginning or at the end of
the line from the Arrowhead control in the Contextual Toolbar.
After adding a line, you can use the Pointer to drag not only the entire
line but also either endpoint separately.
As with the Add Text Tool, you can change the default properties for
added lines by changing the settings in the Contextual Toolbar or
associated dialog box while the Add Line Tool is active. As with the
text settings, these settings are retained until you change them again.
If you draw more arrows than lines, this may be the time to change your
default setting for the Add Line Tool. Select the tool and then select
Head in the Arrowhead control of the Contextual Toolbar. Now, whenever
you draw a line, an arrowhead will be drawn on the endpoint where you
release the mouse.
Add Marker Tool
You add markers by using the Add Marker Tool, which is located below the
Add Line Tool. With the Add Marker Tool active, simply click anywhere
you wish to add a marker. As with text and lines, you can change the
marker's properties immediately or later by using the Pointer Tool and
the Contextual Toolbar or the associated dialog box.
As with markers on plots, added markers can be labeled. Double-click on
an added marker with the Pointer Tool (or select More... from its
Contextual Toolbar) and use the controls on the Label tab of the dialog
As with the other Add... tools, you can change any of the properties of
the default marker by changing settings in the Contextual Toolbar or the
associated dialog when the tool is in use.
Grid Edit Tool
The final tool on the Tools Toolbar is the Grid Edit Tool. This is an
advanced tool that moves objects within their containing grid. See Grid
editing for details; we mention it here only because it is part of the
The Object Browser
To the right of the Graph window (unless you have moved it elsewhere or
turned it off) is the Object Browser, or just Browser. The Browser is
for advanced use, but we mention it here because it comes up when
discussing some other tools and because there is not much to say. The
Browser shows a hierarchical listing of all the objects in your graph.
At the top of the hierarchy is the name of your graph, and within that is
typically a plot region (plotregion1), the axes (yaxis1 and xaxis1), the
legend, a note, a caption, a subtitle, a title, and the positional
titles. Some of these objects contain other objects. Most importantly,
the plot region contains all the plots, for example, scatterplots, line
plots, and area plots. These plots are simply numbered 1 through N,
where N is the number of plots on your graph. In addition to containing
its own titles, the legend contains a key region that holds the legend's
components: keys and labels.
Some graphs, such as bar charts, box plots, dot charts, and pie charts,
have slightly different sets of objects. Combined graphs, in addition to
their own set of titles, have a plot region that contains other graphs,
which themselves nest all the objects listed earlier. By-graphs are
particularly messy in the Browser because they are constructed with many
of their objects hidden. Showing these objects rarely leads to anything
Although you may be able to largely ignore the Browser, it has several
features that are helpful.
First, if two or more objects occupy the same space on the graph, you
will be able to select only the topmost object. You would have to move
the upper objects to reach a lower object. With the Browser, you can
directly select any object, even one that is hidden by another object.
Just select the object's name in the Browser. That object will stay
selected for dragging or property changes through the Contextual Toolbar
or associated dialog.
Second, the Browser is the quickest way to add titles, notes, or captions
to a graph. Just select one of them in the Browser and then type your
title, note, or caption in the Text control of the Contextual Toolbar.
As you select objects with the Pointer, those objects are also selected
and highlighted in the Browser. The reverse is also true: as you select
objects in the Browser, they will also be selected on the graph and their
Contextual Toolbar will be displayed. There is no difference between
selecting objects by name in the Browser and selecting them directly on
the graph with the Pointer. In fact, you can right-click on an object in
the Browser to access its properties.
If you find the Browser more of a distraction than a help, select
Tools > Hide Object Browser from the main menu. You can always reshow
the Browser from the same place.
Right-click menus, or Contextual menus
You can right-click on any object to see a list of operations specific to
the object and tool you are working with. This feature is most useful
with the Pointer Tool. For almost all objects, you will be offered the
Hide Hide an object that is currently shown. This will also
gray the object in the Browser.
Show Show an object that is currently hidden. Available only
when selecting grayed objects in the Browser.
Lock Lock the object, making it unselectable and unchangeable
by the Pointer. When you lock an object, a lock icon
will appear beside the object in the Browser. This is
another way to select an object that is underneath
another object. Lock the upper object and you will be
able to select the lower object.
Unlock Unlock the object, making it selectable and its
properties changeable. Available only when selecting
locked objects in the Browser.
xyz Properties Open the properties dialog box for object xyz. The same
dialog is opened by double-clicking on an object or
clicking on the More... button from its Contextual
When you have selected an object that can be repositioned, you will also
see the following:
Lock Position Lock the position of an object so that it cannot be
dragged to a different position. This type of lock is
not reflected in the Browser.
Unlock Position Unlock the position of an object so that it may be
dragged to a different position by using the Pointer.
Some objects are created with their position locked by
default to avoid accidental dragging, but many may be
manually unlocked with this menu item.
When you select a plot where individual observations are visible -- for
example, scatterplots, connected plots, spike plots, range bar plots,
arrow plots -- you will also see
Observation Properties Change the properties of the currently
selected observation without affecting the
rendition of the remaining plot. You can
further customize the observation later by
reselecting it with the Pointer. Once
changed, the observation's custom properties
become available in the Contextual Toolbar
and properties dialog box.
When you select an axis, you will also see the following:
Add Tick/Label Add a tick, label, or tick and label to the
Tick/Label Properties Change the properties of the tick or label
closest to your current Pointer position.
This is a quicker way to customize a tick or
label than navigating to it through the Edit
or add individual ticks and labels button in
the axis properties dialog box.
Many objects with shared properties -- such as plots and labels on a
scatterplot matrix, bars and labels on a bar chart, and pie slices and
labels on a pie chart -- will also add
Object-specific Properties Change the properties of only the selected
object, not all the objects that by default
share its properties.
With Object-specific Properties, you can customize one bar, label, or
other object that you would normally want to look the same as related
Many of the operations come in pairs, such as Hide/Show. You are offered
only the appropriate operations, for example, to Hide a shown object or
to Show a hidden object.
The Standard Toolbar
The Standard Toolbar normally resides at the top of the Graph window
(just below the main menu on Unix and Windows systems). In addition to
standard operations -- such as Open Graph, Save Graph, and Print Graph --
there are several graph and Graph Editor-specific operations available.
You can Rename graphs, Start/Stop Graph Editor, Show or Hide Object
Browser, Deselect the selected object, Undo or Redo edits, Record edits,
and Play previously recorded edits.
You can undo and redo up to 300 consecutive edits.
The main Graph Editor menu
On Unix and Windows systems, the Graph Editor menus reside on the menubar
at the top of the Graph window. Menu locations on the Mac are a little
different than on other operating systems. On the Mac, all the menus
referenced throughout this documentation except File, Edit, and Help are
located under the Graph Editor menu. In addition, items found under the
Tools menu on Windows and Unix systems are found under the Graph Editor
menu on the Mac.
File In addition to opening, closing, saving, and printing graphs,
you can start and stop the Graph Editor from this menu. The
Save as... menu not only saves graphs in Stata's standard
"live" format, which allows future editing in the Graph
Editor, but also exports graphs in formats commonly used by
other applications: PostScript, Encapsulated PostScript
(EPS), TIFF, and Portable Network Graphics (PNG) on all
computers; Windows Metafile (WMF) and Windows Enhanced
Metafile (EMF) on Microsoft Windows computers; and Portable
Document Format (PDF) on Mac computers.
Object Mirrors the operations available in the right-click menu for an
object, with two additions: 1) you can unlock all objects by
using Object > Unlock All Objects and 2) you can deselect a
selected object by using Object > Deselect. On the Mac, this
menu is located under the Graph Editor menu.
Graph Launches the dialog boxes for changing the properties of the
objects that are common to most graphs (titles, axes, legends,
etc.). You can also launch these dialogs by double-clicking
on an object in the graph, by double-clicking on the object's
name in the Object Browser, by selecting Properties from the
object's right-click menu, or by clicking on More... in the
object's Contextual Toolbar. On the Mac, this menu is located
under the Graph Editor menu.
Tools Selects the tool for editing: Pointer, Add Text, Add Line, Add
Marker, Grid Edit. These can also be selected from the Tools
Toolbar. Under Tools, you can also control the Graph
Recorder. From here you can also hide and show the Object
Browser. On the Mac, this menu is named Graph Editor and also
contains the Object and Graph menus.
Help Provides access to this documentation, Help > Graph Editor;
advice on using Stata, Help > Advice; a topical overview of
Stata's commands, Help > Contents; searching,
Help > Search...; and help on specific commands,
Help > Stata command....
Click on the Grid Edit Tool to begin grid editing. When you drag objects
with this tool, you are rearranging them on the underlying grid where
graph placed them.
When you select an object, it will be highlighted in red and the grid
that contains the object will be shown. You can drag the object to other
cells in that grid or to new cells that will be created between the
existing cells. As you drag an object to other cells, those cells will
appear darker red. If you drop the object on a darker red cell, you are
placing it in that cell along with any objects already in the cell. As
you drag over cell boundaries, the boundary will appear darker red. If
you drop the object on a cell boundary, a new row or column is inserted
into the grid and the object is dropped into a cell in this new row or
Regardless of whether you drag the object to an existing cell or to a new
cell, the other objects in the graph expand or contract to make room for
the object in its new position.
This concept sounds more difficult than it is in practice. Draw a graph
and try it.
Some graphs, such as by-graphs and combined graphs, are composed of
nested grids. You can drag objects only within the grid that contains
them; you cannot drag them to other grids.
One of the more useful things you can do when grid editing is to drag a
title or legend to a new position on the graph. See Tips, tricks, and
quick edits for more examples.
You can also expand or contract the number of cells that the selected
object occupies by using the Contextual Toolbar. Most objects occupy
only one cell by default, but there are exceptions. If you specify the
span option on a title, the title will occupy all the columns in its row;
see [G-3] title_options. To make an object occupy more or fewer cells,
click on Expand Cell or Contract Cell in the Contextual Toolbar and then
select the desired direction to expand or contract.
You can use the Object Browser to select objects when grid editing. With
the Browser, you can individually select among objects that occupy the
same cell. Selecting in the Browser is often easier for objects like
legends, which are themselves a grid. In the graph, you must click on
the edge of the legend to select the whole legend and not just one of its
cells. If you have difficulty selecting such objects in the graph, pick
their name in the Object Browser instead.
You can record your edits and play them back on other graphs using the
Graph Recorder. To start recording your edits, click on the Start
Recording button in the Standard Toolbar. All ensuing edits are saved as
a recording. To end a recording, click on the same button; you will be
prompted to name your recording. The recorded edits can be replayed on
To play the edits from a recording, click on the Play Recording button.
You will be presented with a list of your recordings. Select the
recording you want to play, and the edits will be applied to your current
You can also play recordings from the command line. Play a recording on
the current graph using the graph play command; see [G-2] graph play.
Play a recording as a graph is being used from disk; see [G-2] graph use.
Or, play a recording by using the play() option at the time a graph is
created; see [G-3] std_options.
Some edits from a recording may not make sense when applied to another
graph, for example, changes to a plotted line's color when played on a
scatterplot. Such edits are ignored when a recording is played, though a
note is written to the Results window for any edits that cannot be
applied to the current graph.
If you want to make some edits that are not saved in the recording,
select the Pause Recording button. Make any edits you do not want
recorded. When you are ready to record more edits, click again on the
Pause Recording button.
You cannot Undo or Redo edits while recording. If you set a property and
do not like the result, simply reset the property. If you add an object
(such as a line) incorrectly, delete the added object.
Technical note -- where are recordings stored?
By default, all recordings are stored in the grec subdirectory of your
PERSONAL directory. (See sysdir for information about your PERSONAL
directory.) The files are stored with a .grec extension and are text
files that can be opened in any standard editor, including Stata's
Do-file Editor. They are not, however, meant to be edited. To remove a
recording from the list of recordings shown when the Play Recording
button is clicked, remove it from this directory.
Most recordings are meant to be used across many graph files and so
belong in the standard place. You may, however, make some recordings
that are specific to one project, so you do not want them shown in the
list presented by Play Recording button. If you want to save a recording
with a project, just browse to that location when you are prompted to
save the recording. Recordings stored this way will not be listed when
you select Play Recording. To play these recordings, select Browse from
the list, change to the directory where you stored the recording, and
open the recording. Your recording will be played and its edits applied.
Tips, tricks, and quick edits
Because you can change anything on the graph by using the Editor and
because many of these changes can be done from the Contextual Toolbar,
there is no end to the tips, tricks, and especially quick edits we might
discuss. Here are a few to get you started.
Save your graph to disk
Make your Graph Editor bigger
Use the Apply button on dialogs
Change a scatterplot to a line plot
Add vertical grid lines
Left-justify a centered title
Reset rather than Undo
Add a reference line
Move the y axis to the right of the graph
Move the legend into the plot region
Change the aspect ratio of a graph
Use the Graph Recorder to create a custom look for graphs
Rotate a bar graph
When you try these tips, remember that while the Graph Editor is open you
cannot execute Stata commands. Exit the Editor to enter and run
Save your graph to disk. It is a simple and obvious suggestion, but
people with years of experience using only Stata's command-line
graphics might lose precious work in the Graph Editor if they do not
save the edited graph. However, Stata will prompt you when you leave
the Graph Editor to save any graph that has been changed.
You can draw a graph, edit it, save it to disk, restore it in a later
Stata session, and continue editing it.
Make your Graph Editor bigger. Stata recalls the size of Graph windows
and the size of the Graph Editor window separately, so you can have a
larger window for editing graphs. It is easier to edit graphs if you
have more room to maneuver, and they will return to their normal size
when you exit the Editor.
Use the Apply button on dialogs. If you are unsure of a change you are
considering, you want to continue making changes using a dialog, or
you just want to see what something does, click on the Apply button
rather than the OK button on a dialog. The Apply button does not
dismiss the dialog, so it is easy to change a setting back or make
Change a scatterplot to a line plot. This one is truly easy, but we want
you to explore the Contextual Toolbar, and this might be an
If you do not have a scatterplot handy, use one of U.S. life
expectancy versus year,
. sysuse uslifeexp
. scatter le year
(click to run)
and start the Graph Editor.
1. Select the scatterplot by clicking on any of its markers.
2. Select Line from the Plottype control in the Contextual Toolbar.
This method works for all plottypes that use the same number of
variables. Scatters, lines, connecteds, areas, bars, spikes, and
droplines can all be interchanged. So can the range plots: rareas,
rbars, rspikes, rcapsyms, rscatters, rlines, and rconnecteds. So,
too, can the paired-coordinate plots: pcspikes, pccapsyms, pcarrows,
pcbarrows, and pcscatters. See [G-2] graph twoway for a description
of all the plottypes.
Add vertical grid lines. This one is easy too, but we really do want you
to explore the Contextual Toolbar. Most graph schemes show
horizontal grid lines aligned with each tick on the y axis, but they
do not show vertical grid lines. To add vertical grid lines,
1. Select the Pointer Tool and then click on the x axis.
2. Click in the Show Grid button (or checkbox under Mac and Windows)
in the Contextual Toolbar.
Left-justify a centered title. If your graph does not have a title,
click on title in the Object Browser and add a title by typing in the
Text field of the Contextual Toolbar (press Enter to see the title).
1. Select the Pointer Tool and then click on the title.
2. Look for a control that justifies the title on the Contextual
Toolbar. There is not one. We need more control than the
3. Click on More... in the Contextual Toolbar to launch the dialog
that controls all title properties.
4. Click on the Format tab in the dialog, and then select West from
the Position control and click on the Apply button.
This might be a good time to explore the other tabs and controls on
the Textbox Properties dialog. This is the dialog available for
almost all the text appearing on a graph, including any that you add
with the Add Text Tool.
Reset rather than Undo. If you are using the Contextual Toolbar or a
dialog to change the properties of an object and you want to reverse
a change you have just made, simply change the setting back rather
than clicking on the Undo button. Undo must completely re-create the
graph, which takes longer than resetting a property.
Think relative. On dialogs, you can often enter anything in a control
that you could enter in the option for the associated style or
property. For example, in a size or thickness control, in addition
to selecting a named size, you could enter an absolute number in
percentage of graph height, or you could enter a multiple like *.5 to
make the object half its current size or *2 to make it twice its
Add a reference line. Reference lines are often added to emphasize a
particular value on one of the axes, for example, the beginning of a
recession or the onset of a disease. With the Add Line Tool, you
could simply draw a vertical or horizontal line at the desired
position, but this method is imprecise. Instead,
1. Using the Pointer Tool, double-click on the x axis.
2. Click on the Reference line button.
3. Enter the x value where the reference line is to be drawn and
click on OK.
Move your y axis to the right of the graph.
1. Click on the Grid Edit Tool.
2. Drag the axis to the right until the right boundary of the plot
region glows red, and then release the mouse button. The plot
region is in the right spot, but the ticks and labels are still
on the wrong side.
3. Right-click on the axis and select Axis Properties.
4. Click on the Advanced button, and then select Right from the
Position control in the resulting dialog.
Move the legend into the plot region. If you do not have a graph with a
legend handy, consider this line plot of female and male life
expectancies in the United States.
. sysuse uslifeexp
. scatter le_female le_male year
(click to run)
You could just use the Pointer to drag the legend into the plot
region, but doing so would leave unwanted space at the bottom of the
graph where the legend formerly appeared. Instead, use the Grid Edit
Tool to place the legend atop the plot region, and then use the
Pointer to fine-tune the position of the legend.
1. Click on the Grid Edit Tool.
2. Drag the legend over the plot region. (The plot region should
appear highlighted before you release the mouse button.) If you
have trouble selecting the whole legend, click on its name in the
Object Browser, and then drag it over the plot region.
3. Position the legend exactly where you want it by selecting the
Pointer and dragging the legend.
If you are using the line plot of life expectancies, you will find
that there is no good place in the plot region for the wide and short
default legend. To remedy, just change the number of columns in the
legend from 2 to 1 by using the Columns control in the legend's
Contextual Toolbar. With its new shape, the legend now fits nicely
into several locations in the plot region.
Change the aspect ratio of a graph. Some graphs are easier to interpret
when the y and x axes are the same length; that is, the graph has an
aspect ratio of 1. We might check the normality of a variable, say,
trade volume stock shares in the S&P 500, by using qnorm.
. sysuse sp500
. qnorm volume
(click to run)
The qnorm command does not by default restrict the plot region to an
aspect ratio of 1, though arguably it should. We can fix that.
Start the Editor and
1. Click on Graph in the Object Browser. We could click directly on
the graph, but doing so requires missing all the objects on the
graph, so using the Browser is easier.
2. Type 1 in the Aspect ratio field of the Contextual Toolbar and
Use the Graph Recorder to create a custom look for graphs. If you want
your graphs to have a particular appearance, such as specific colors
for each plotted line or the legend being to the right of the plot
region, you can automate this process by using the Graph Recorder.
The specific steps for creating the recording depend on the look you
want to achieve. Here is a general outline.
1. Create the type of graph you want to customize -- scatterplot,
line plot, pie graph, etc. Be sure you draw as many plots as you
will ever want to draw on a graph of this type, and also be sure
to include all the other plot elements you wish to customize --
titles, notes, etc. For a line plot, you might type
. sysuse uslifeexp, clear
. line le* year, title(my title) subtitle(my subtitle)
note(my note) caption(my caption)
Because there are nine variables beginning with le, this will
create a line plot with nine lines -- probably more than you
need. The graph will also have all the basic plot elements.
2. Start the Graph Editor. Then start the Recorder by clicking on
the Start Recording button in the Standard Toolbar.
3. Use the Editor to make the graph look the way you want line
graphs to look.
o Change the color, thickness, or pattern of the first line by
selecting the line and using the Contextual Toolbar or any of
the options available from the Contextual menus.
Repeat this for every line you want to change.
With so many lines, you may find it easier to select lines in
the legend, rather than in the plot region.
o Change the size, color, etc., of titles and captions.
o Change the orientation of axis tick labels, or even change
the suggested number of ticks.
o Change the background color of the graph or plot region.
o Move titles, legends, etc., to other locations -- for
example, move the legend to the right of the plot region.
This is usually best done with the Grid Edit Tool, which
allows the other graph elements to adjust to the
o Make any other changes you wish using any of the tools in the
4. End the Recorder by clicking on the Recording button again, and
give the recording a name -- say, mylineplot.
5. Apply the recorded edits to any other line graph either by using
the Play Recording button on the Graph Editor or by using one of
the methods for playing a recording from the command line: graph
play or play().
If you wish to change the look of plots -- markers, lines, bars, pie
slices, etc. -- you must create a separate recording for each graph
family or plottype. You need separate recordings because changes to
one plottype do not affect other plottypes. That is, changing
markers does not affect lines. If you wish to change only overall
graph features -- background colors, titles, legend position, etc. --
you can make one recording and play it back on any type of graph.
For a more general way to control how graphs look, you can create
your own scheme (see [G-4] schemes intro). Creating schemes,
however, requires some comfort with editing control files and a
tolerance for reading through the hundreds of settings available from
schemes. See scheme files for details on how to create your own
Note: We said in step 1 that you should include titles, notes, and
other graph elements when creating the graph to edit. Creating these
elements makes things easier but is usually not required. Common
graph elements always appear in the Object Browser, even if they have
no text or other contents to show on the graph; you can select them
in the Browser and change their properties, even though they do not
appear on the graph. Such invisible elements will still be difficult
to manipulate with the Grid Edit Tool. If you need an invisible
object to relocate, click on the Pause Recording button, add the
object, unpause the recording, and then continue with your edits.
Rotate a bar graph. You can rotate the over-groups of a bar, dot, or box
chart. This is easier to see than to explain. Let's create a bar
graph of wages over three different sets of categories.
. sysuse nlsw88
. graph bar wage, over(race) over(collgrad) over(union)
(click to run)
Start the Graph Editor.
1. Using the Pointer, click within the plot region, but not on any
of the bars.
2. Click on the Rotate button in the Contextual Toolbar.
3. Click on Rotate a few more times, watching what happens on the
To see some other interesting things, click on the More... button.
In the resulting dialog, check Stack bars and click on Apply. Then
check Graph percentages and click on Apply.
During rotation, sometimes the labels on the x axis did not fit.
Select the Horizontal radio button in the dialog and click on Apply
to flip the bar graph to horizontal, and then repeat the rotation.
Bar graphs requiring long labels typically work better when drawn
When the Add Text Tool, Add Line Tool, and Add Marker Tool add things to
a graph, the new object can be added to a plot region, a subgraph, or the
graph as a whole. They will be added to the plot region if the starting
point for the added object is within a plot region. The same is true of
subgraphs. Otherwise, the new objects will be added to the overall
Why do you care? When a line, for example, is added to a graph, its
endpoints are recorded on the generic metric of the graph, whereas when a
line is added to a plot region, the endpoints are recorded in the metric
of the x and y axes. That is, in the plot region of a graph of mpg
versus weight, the endpoints are recorded in "miles per gallon" and "curb
weight". If you later change the range of the graph's axes, your line's
endpoints will still be at the same values of mpg and weight. This is
almost always what you want.
If you prefer your added object to not scale with changes in the axes,
add it outside the plot region. If you still want it on the plot region,
drag it into the plot region after adding it outside the region.
If your x or y axis is on a log scale, you may be surprised at how lines
added to the plot region react when drawn. When you are dragging the
endpoints, all will be fine. When you drag the line as a whole, however,
the line will change its length and angle. This happens because
dimensions in a log metric are not linear and dragging the line affects
each endpoint differently. The Graph Editor is not smart enough to track
this nonlinearity, and the actual position of the line appears only after
you drop it. We recommend that you drag only the endpoints of lines
added to plot regions whose dimensions are on a log scale.