# Tim Evans Plotting Tips Page

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## Plotting packages

These are some of the plotting packages that I am aware of, though some I have had next to no experience. Cost and licence availability have the biggest influence on my choice. Nothing is particularly easy to learn.
- Gnuplot: basically a plotting programme but can do fits and knows about mathematical functions. Free (not open source. Command line driven i.e. needs scripts. Well established so many online examples. Can do very complicated plots. Mathematical formulae can be included in plots using LaTeX style notation.
- Origin: This is a commercial statistics package. Imperial Physics Dept may have a licence. Looks much more like excel so this is the easiest package to use when manipulating data - the others work through the command line. Plots can also be altered using WYSIWYG GUI interface much like Matlab (though not as nice as MatLab). I have not used this.
- R Statistics package: analysing statistics is its prime use. Produces good plots and these are easily extended with standard libraries. Command line driven, very well established so lots of help online and many books in library. Its heritage can make it difficult to learn - it is not like C++/Java/Python. Main advantage is that it is free, open source and cross platform. Mathematical formulae can be included in plots. See my page on R statistics pacake for some of the ways I get R to do my plots but also see the R Plots Gallery.
- Matlab: Numerical analysis heritage with excellent plots. Language is similar to R so its not C++/Java/Python and tricky to learn. Lots of help in books and online. Big advantage is that it does offer considerable chances to manipulate the figures using WYSIWYG GUI interface e.g. change normal/log axes, change fonts of characters so it is very useful for changing a plot for publication.
- Octave: Open source free Matlab like package but I have not used this.
- Mathematica: primarily a symbolic manipulation programme and this heritage does not make it as so easy to use for plots. Has a very wide range of other abilities such as numerical solving, graph/network packages etc. Its graphics are considered excellent. Programme is very expensive though may be cheap enough or free via Imperial licence. Command line driven.
- Maple: as Mathematica, but no general Imperial licence. Graphics generally considered not to be as good but certainly can be high quality.
- Spreadsheets: Excel or libre/open office. OK for quick look and for easy data manipulation but not for serious work as plot output is just not good enough for most scientific work. At least the libre/open office packages produce pdf and eps.