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Re: st: Formula/algorithm Stata uses to calculate default axis ranges and tick marks?

From   "Roger B. Newson" <>
Subject   Re: st: Formula/algorithm Stata uses to calculate default axis ranges and tick marks?
Date   Sat, 06 Oct 2012 21:13:49 +0100

I cannot speak for StataCorp, or specify their formulas. However, I have written an alternative package -regaxis-, which can be downloaded from SSC, which has 2 modules -logaxis- and -regaxis- for calculating regular logarithmic and linear axis scales, respectively. I wrote this package because I was not always satisfied with the defaults provided by Stata graphics. The online help for -regaxis- describes (verbally) the algorithms used there.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes


Roger B Newson BSc MSc DPhil
Lecturer in Medical Statistics
Respiratory Epidemiology and Public Health Group
National Heart and Lung Institute
Imperial College London
Royal Brompton Campus
Room 33, Emmanuel Kaye Building
1B Manresa Road
London SW3 6LR
Tel: +44 (0)20 7352 8121 ext 3381
Fax: +44 (0)20 7351 8322
Web page:
Departmental Web page:

Opinions expressed are those of the author, not of the institution.

On 06/10/2012 20:51, Nick Cox wrote:
The methodology for nice numbers is broadly similar to that described in

STB-25  dm28  . . .  Calculate nice numbers for labeling or drawing grid lines
         (help nicenum if installed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. W. Hardin
         5/95    pp.2--3; STB Reprints Vol 5, pp.19--20

Otherwise I doubt that there is any on-line documentation of the kind you seek.


On Sat, Oct 6, 2012 at 7:46 PM, Michael Stepner
<> wrote:

I'm trying to find a description of the formula or algorithm Stata
uses to set the default look of a scatter plot's axes: how it chooses
the default range and tick marks.  I've searched online and in the
Stata manual, but haven't found any details.  I've read that Stata
chooses approximately 5 "nice values" for the tick marks, but haven't
found any indication of how those "nice values" are selected.

If anyone could point me to a detailed description of the methodology
for selecting the nice defaults, it would be greatly appreciated!
Even if it's just pointing me to some code where these defaults are
calculated and implemented, that would be a great help.
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