Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (2024)

Table of Contents
Position and Layout NumColumns — Number of columns 1 (default) | positive integer NumColumnsMode — Selection mode for NumColumns 'auto' (default) | 'manual' Direction — Order of legend items "normal" | "reverse" DirectionMode — Selection mode for Direction "auto" (default) | "manual" Position — Custom location and size four-element vector Units — Position units 'normalized' (default) | 'inches' | 'centimeters' | 'characters' | 'points' | 'pixels' Layout — Layout options empty LayoutOptions array (default) | TiledChartLayoutOptions object Labels AutoUpdate — Automatic update of legend items "on" (default) | on/off logical value String — Text for legend labels cell array of character vectors | string array | categorical array Title — Legend title legend text object Font Color and Styling Color — Background color [1 1 1] (default) | RGB triplet | hexadecimal color code | 'r' | 'g' | 'b' | ... EdgeColor — Box outline color [0.15 0.15 0.15] (default) | RGB triplet | hexadecimal color code | 'r' | 'g' | 'b' | ... BackgroundAlpha — Background transparency 1 (default) | scalar in the range [0, 1] Box — Display of box outline 'on' (default) | on/off logical value Interactivity ContextMenu — Context menu ContextMenu object (default) Callbacks ItemHitFcn — Callback that executes when you click legend items @defaultItemHitCallback (default) | function handle | cell array | character vector ButtonDownFcn — Mouse-click callback @bdowncb (default) | function handle | cell array | character vector Callback Execution Control Parent/Child Identifiers Type — Type of graphics object 'legend' (default) Version History R2024a: Control transparency with BackgroundAlpha property R2023b: Control the order of legend items with Direction property R2023b: Legend order is reversed for stacked bar charts and area charts R2022b: Legends update when you delete lines or other plot objects R2020a: UIContextMenu property is not recommended See Also Topics MATLAB Command Americas Europe Asia Pacific FAQs

Legend appearance and behavior

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Legend properties control the appearance and behavior of a Legend object. By changing property values, you can modify certain aspects of the legend. Use dot notation to refer to a particular object and property:

plot(rand(3))lgd = legend('a','b','c');c = lgd.TextColor;lgd.TextColor = 'red';

Position and Layout

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Number of columns, specified as a positive integer. If there are not enough legend items to fill the specified number of columns, then the number of columns that appear might be fewer.

Use the Orientation property to control whether the legend items appear in order along each column or along each row.

Example: lgd.NumColumns = 3

Selection mode for the NumColumns value, specified as one of these values:

  • 'auto' — Automatically select the value.

  • 'manual' — Use the manually specified value. To specify the value, set the NumColumns property.

Since R2023b

Order of legend items, specified as one of the values in this table.

For most charts, the default direction is "normal". However, for stacked bar and area charts, the default direction is "reverse" to match the stacking order of the chart.

ValueDescriptionExample

"normal"

List the first item at the top and the last item at the bottom.

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (1)

"reverse"

List the first item at the bottom and the last item at the top.

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (2)

Since R2023b

Selection mode for the Direction value, specified as one of these values:

  • "auto" — Automatically select the value.

  • "manual" — Use the manually specified value. To specify the value, set the Direction property.

Custom location and size, specified as a four-element vector of the form [left bottom width height]. The first two values, left and bottom, specify the distance from the lower left corner of the figure to the lower left corner of the legend. The last two values, width and height, specify the legend dimensions. The Units property determines the position units.

If you specify the Position property, then MATLAB® automatically changes the Location property to 'none'.

Example: legend({'A','B'},'Position',[0.2 0.6 0.1 0.2])

Note

Setting this property has no effect when the parent container is a TiledChartLayout object.

Position units, specified as one of the values in this table.

UnitsDescription
'normalized' (default)Normalized with respect to the container, which is usually the figure. The lower-left corner of the figure maps to (0,0) and the upper-right corner maps to (1,1). Resizing the figure updates the values of the Position vector.
'inches'Inches.
'centimeters'Centimeters.
'characters'

Based on the default system font character size.

  • Character width = width of letter x.

  • Character height = distance between the baselines of two lines of text.

'points'Points. One point equals 1/72 inch.
'pixels'

Pixels.

Starting in R2015b, distances in pixels are independent of your system resolution on Windows® and Macintosh systems.

  • On Windows systems, a pixel is 1/96th of an inch.

  • On Macintosh systems, a pixel is 1/72nd of an inch.

  • On Linux® systems, the size of a pixel is determined by your system resolution.

All units are measured from the lower-left corner of the container window.

This property affects the Position property. If you change the units, then it is good practice to return it to its default value after completing your computation to prevent affecting other functions that assume Units is the default value.

If you specify the Position and Units properties as Name,Value pairs when creating the object, then the order of specification matters. If you want to define the position with particular units, then you must set the Units property before the Position property.

Layout options, specified as a TiledChartLayoutOptions object. This property is useful when the legend is in a tiled chart layout.

To position the legend within the grid of a tiled chart layout, set the Tile property on the TiledChartLayoutOptions object. For example, consider a 3-by-3 tiled chart layout. The layout has a grid of tiles in the center, and four tiles along the outer edges. In practice, the grid is invisible and the outer tiles do not take up space until you populate them with axes or other objects.

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (3)

This code places the legend lgd in the third tile of the grid..

lgd.Layout.Tile = 3;

To place the legend in one of the surrounding tiles, specify the Tile property as 'north', 'south', 'east', or 'west'. For example, setting the value to 'east' places the legend in the tile to the right of the grid.

If the legend is not a child of a tiled chart layout (for example, if it is a child of the figure) then this property is empty and has no effect.

Labels

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Automatic update of legend items to reflect the current state of the axes, specified as "on" or "off", or as numeric or logical 1 (true) or 0 (false). A value of "on" is equivalent to true, and "off" is equivalent to false. Thus, you can use the value of this property as a logical value. The value is stored as an on/off logical value of type matlab.lang.OnOffSwitchState.

  • "on" — Automatically add legend items for new graphics objects added to the axes.

  • "off" — Do not automatically add legend items.

If you delete an object from the axes, the legend updates to reflect the change regardless of whether this property is set to "on" or "off". (since R2022b)

Example: legend(["A","B"],"AutoUpdate","off")

Text for legend labels, specified as a cell array of character vectors, string array, or categorical array. To include special characters or Greek letters in the labels, use TeX markup. For a table of options, see the Interpreter property.

Legend title, returned as a legend text object. To add a legend title, set the String property of the legend text object. To change the title appearance, such as the font style or color, set legend text properties. For a list, see Text Properties.

plot(rand(3));lgd = legend('line 1','line 2','line 3');lgd.Title.String = 'My Legend Title';lgd.Title.FontSize = 12;

Alternatively, use the title function to add a title and control the appearance.

plot(rand(3));lgd = legend('line 1','line 2','line 3');title(lgd,'My Legend Title','FontSize',12)

Font

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Color and Styling

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Background color, specified as an RGB triplet, a hexadecimal color code, a color name, or a short name. The default value of [1 1 1] corresponds to white.

For a custom color, specify an RGB triplet or a hexadecimal color code.

  • An RGB triplet is a three-element row vector whose elements specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of the color. The intensities must be in the range [0,1], for example, [0.4 0.6 0.7].

  • A hexadecimal color code is a string scalar or character vector that starts with a hash symbol (#) followed by three or six hexadecimal digits, which can range from 0 to F. The values are not case sensitive. Therefore, the color codes "#FF8800", "#ff8800", "#F80", and "#f80" are equivalent.

Alternatively, you can specify some common colors by name. This table lists the named color options, the equivalent RGB triplets, and hexadecimal color codes.

Color NameShort NameRGB TripletHexadecimal Color CodeAppearance
"red""r"[1 0 0]"#FF0000"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (4)

"green""g"[0 1 0]"#00FF00"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (5)

"blue""b"[0 0 1]"#0000FF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (6)

"cyan" "c"[0 1 1]"#00FFFF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (7)

"magenta""m"[1 0 1]"#FF00FF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (8)

"yellow""y"[1 1 0]"#FFFF00"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (9)

"black""k"[0 0 0]"#000000"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (10)

"white""w"[1 1 1]"#FFFFFF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (11)

"none"Not applicableNot applicableNot applicableNo color

Here are the RGB triplets and hexadecimal color codes for the default colors MATLAB uses in many types of plots.

RGB TripletHexadecimal Color CodeAppearance
[0 0.4470 0.7410]"#0072BD"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (12)

[0.8500 0.3250 0.0980]"#D95319"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (13)

[0.9290 0.6940 0.1250]"#EDB120"

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[0.4940 0.1840 0.5560]"#7E2F8E"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (15)

[0.4660 0.6740 0.1880]"#77AC30"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (16)

[0.3010 0.7450 0.9330]"#4DBEEE"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (17)

[0.6350 0.0780 0.1840]"#A2142F"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (18)

Example: legend({'A','B'},'Color','y')

Example: legend({'A','B'},'Color',[0.8 0.8 1])

Example: legend({'A','B'},'Color','#D9A2E9')

Box outline color, specified as an RGB triplet, a hexadecimal color code, a color name, or a short name. The default value of [0.15 0.15 0.15] corresponds to dark gray.

For a custom color, specify an RGB triplet or a hexadecimal color code.

  • An RGB triplet is a three-element row vector whose elements specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of the color. The intensities must be in the range [0,1], for example, [0.4 0.6 0.7].

  • A hexadecimal color code is a string scalar or character vector that starts with a hash symbol (#) followed by three or six hexadecimal digits, which can range from 0 to F. The values are not case sensitive. Therefore, the color codes "#FF8800", "#ff8800", "#F80", and "#f80" are equivalent.

Alternatively, you can specify some common colors by name. This table lists the named color options, the equivalent RGB triplets, and hexadecimal color codes.

Color NameShort NameRGB TripletHexadecimal Color CodeAppearance
"red""r"[1 0 0]"#FF0000"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (19)

"green""g"[0 1 0]"#00FF00"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (20)

"blue""b"[0 0 1]"#0000FF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (21)

"cyan" "c"[0 1 1]"#00FFFF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (22)

"magenta""m"[1 0 1]"#FF00FF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (23)

"yellow""y"[1 1 0]"#FFFF00"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (24)

"black""k"[0 0 0]"#000000"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (25)

"white""w"[1 1 1]"#FFFFFF"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (26)

"none"Not applicableNot applicableNot applicableNo color

Here are the RGB triplets and hexadecimal color codes for the default colors MATLAB uses in many types of plots.

RGB TripletHexadecimal Color CodeAppearance
[0 0.4470 0.7410]"#0072BD"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (27)

[0.8500 0.3250 0.0980]"#D95319"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (28)

[0.9290 0.6940 0.1250]"#EDB120"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (29)

[0.4940 0.1840 0.5560]"#7E2F8E"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (30)

[0.4660 0.6740 0.1880]"#77AC30"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (31)

[0.3010 0.7450 0.9330]"#4DBEEE"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (32)

[0.6350 0.0780 0.1840]"#A2142F"

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (33)

Example: legend({'A','B'},'EdgeColor',[0 1 0])

Since R2024a

Background transparency, specified as a scalar in the range [0, 1]. A value of 1 is fully opaque and 0 is completely transparent. Values between 0 and 1 are partially transparent. Here are some examples of legends with different BackgroundAlpha values.

ValueAppearance

1 (default)

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (34)

0.8

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (35)

0.6

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (36)

Display of box outline, specified as 'on' or 'off', or as numeric or logical 1 (true) or 0 (false). A value of 'on' is equivalent to true, and 'off' is equivalent to false. Thus, you can use the value of this property as a logical value. The value is stored as an on/off logical value of type matlab.lang.OnOffSwitchState.

  • 'on' — Display the box around the legend.

  • 'off' — Do not display the box around the legend.

Example: legend({'A','B'},'Box','off')

Interactivity

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Context menu, specified as a ContextMenu object. Use this property to display a context menu when you right-click the object. Create the context menu using the uicontextmenu function.

Note

If the PickableParts property is set to 'none' or if the HitTest property is set to 'off', then the context menu does not appear.

Callbacks

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Callback that executes when you click legend items, specified as one of these values:

  • Function handle. For example, @myCallback.

  • Cell array containing a function handle and additional arguments. For example, {@myCallback,arg3}.

  • Character vector that is a valid MATLAB command or function, which is evaluated in the base workspace (not recommended).

If you specify this property using a function handle, then MATLAB passes the Legend object and an event data structure as the first and second input arguments to the function. This table describes the fields in the event data structure.

Event Data Structure Fields

FieldDescription
PeerChart object associated with the clicked legend item.
RegionRegion of legend item clicked, returned as either 'icon' or 'label'.
SelectionType

Type of click, returned as one of these values:

  • 'normal' — Single-click left mouse button

  • 'extend'Shift + single-click left mouse button

  • 'open' — Double-click any mouse button

  • 'alt' — Single-click right mouse button, both mouse buttons (Windows and Mac), or middle mouse button (Mac and Linux). If the ContextMenu property contains a valid context menu (which is the default), then this type of click opens the context menu instead of triggering the ItemHitFcn callback.

SourceLegend object.
EventNameEvent name, 'ItemHit'.

Note

If you set the ButtonDownFcn property, then the ItemHitFcn property is disabled.

Example

You can create interactive legends so that when you click an item in the legend, the associated chart updates in some way. For example, you can toggle the visibility of the chart or change its line width. Set the ItemHitFcn property of the legend to a callback function that controls how the charts change. This example shows how to toggle the visibility of a chart when you click the chart icon or label in a legend. It creates a callback function that changes the Visible property of the chart to either 'on' or 'off'.

Copy the following code to a new function file and save it as hitcallback_ex1.m either in the current folder or in a folder on the MATLAB search path. The two input arguments, src and evnt, are the legend object and an event data structure. MATLAB automatically passes these inputs to the callback function when you click an item in the legend. Use the Peer field of the event data structure to access properties of the chart object associated with the clicked legend item.

function hitcallback_ex1(src,evnt)if strcmp(evnt.Peer.Visible,'on') evnt.Peer.Visible = 'off';else evnt.Peer.Visible = 'on';endend

Then, plot four lines, create a legend, and assign the legend object to a variable. Set the ItemHitFcn property of the legend object to the callback function. Click items in the legend to show or hide the associated chart. The legend label changes to gray when you hide a chart.

plot(rand(4));l = legend('Line 1','Line 2','Line 3','Line 4');l.ItemHitFcn = @hitcallback_ex1;

Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (37)

Mouse-click callback, specified as one of these values:

  • Function handle

  • Cell array containing a function handle and additionalarguments

  • Character vector that is a valid MATLAB commandor function, which is evaluated in the base workspace (not recommended)

Use this property to execute code when you click the object.If you specify this property using a function handle, then MATLAB passestwo arguments to the callback function when executing the callback:

  • Clicked object — Access properties of the clicked object from within the callback function.

  • Event data — Empty argument. Replace it with the tilde character (~) in the function definition to indicate that this argument is not used.

For more information on how to use function handlesto define callback functions, see Create Callbacks for Graphics Objects.

Note

If the PickableParts property is set to 'none' orif the HitTest property is set to 'off',then this callback does not execute.

Callback Execution Control

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Parent/Child

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Identifiers

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This property is read-only.

Type of graphics object, returned as 'legend'. Use this property to find all objects of a given type within a plotting hierarchy.

Version History

Introduced in R2014b

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Control the background transparency of a legend box by setting the BackgroundAlpha property to a value between 0 (completely transparent) and 1 (opaque).

Control the order of the legend items by setting the Direction property of the legend to "normal" or "reverse".

See Also

legend

Topics

  • Access Property Values
  • Graphics Object Properties

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Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (39)

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Legend appearance and behavior - MATLAB (2024)

FAQs

How to use the legend function in MATLAB? ›

Create a legend and assign the Legend object to the variable lgd . Set the FontSize and TextColor properties using name-value arguments. rdm = rand(4); plot(rdm) lgd = legend({'Line 1','Line 2','Line 3','Line 4'},... 'FontSize',12,'TextColor','blue'); Modify the legend after it is created by referring to lgd .

How do I show a specific legend in MATLAB? ›

Specify Labels Using DisplayName

Alternatively, you can specify the legend labels using the DisplayName property. Set the DisplayName property as a name-value pair when calling the plotting functions. Then, call the legend command to create the legend. Legends automatically update when you add or delete a data series.

How do I turn off legend visibility in MATLAB? ›

Below are two ways to remove a legend from a plot:
  • Use the "findobj" function to find the legend(s) and the "delete" function to delete them: % Find and delete the legend. lgd = findobj('type', 'legend') ...
  • If you do not want to delete the legend, you can turn off the legend's visibility: set(lgd(idx), 'visible', 'off')
Mar 26, 2016

How to modify legend in MATLAB? ›

To add a legend title, set the String property of the legend text object. To change the title appearance, such as the font style or color, set legend text properties. For a list, see Text Properties. plot(rand(3)); lgd = legend('line 1','line 2','line 3'); lgd.

How do you use the legend function? ›

legend() in Python. The attribute Loc in legend() is used to specify the location of the legend. The default value of loc is loc= “best” (upper left). The strings 'upper left', 'upper right', 'lower left', and 'lower right' place the legend at the corresponding corner of the axes/figure.

How to write a legend for a graph? ›

4 Features of a Good Figure Legend:
  1. Title: A brief title that applies to the entire figure, including all panels. ...
  2. Materials and methods: A description of the techniques used. ...
  3. Results: A statement of the results that can be gleaned from the particular figure. ...
  4. Definitions: An explanation of features in the figure.
Dec 29, 2014

What is the limit of legend in MATLAB? ›

Accepted Answer

Legends are currently limited to no more than 50 entries. Usually in plots with more than 50 features, the plot is so cluttered and the legend is so large that it is more advisable to select just a few key items to display in the legend.

How do I not show data in legend in MATLAB? ›

Direct link to this answer
  1. Select the line which you want to make invisible in legend.
  2. Then select the arrow icon from the top, this will open the property inspector.
  3. Scroll down in the property inspector dailouge box.
  4. click parent/child item.
  5. In the handle visibility salect the off option.
Feb 22, 2018

How do you ignore entries in legend MATLAB? ›

One can suppress a legend entry for a line object h by executing h. HandleVisibility='off' or h. Annotation.

How do I prevent the legend from updating in MATLAB? ›

The legend has been changed so that by default it updates when data is added to or removed from a plot automatically. To prevent this behavior, set the legends "AutoUpdate" property. The above line can also be added to the MATLAB startup script if the user wants it to apply it to every MATLAB session.

How to position legend in MATLAB? ›

The Matlab help for legend clearly states:
  1. LEGEND(...,' Location',LOC) adds a legend in the specified.
  2. location, LOC, with respect to the axes. LOC may be either a.
  3. 1x4 position vector or one of the following strings:
  4. 'North' inside plot box near top.
  5. 'South' inside bottom.
Jul 27, 2011

How do you exclude items from the legend in MATLAB? ›

1- Select the curve you don't want have legend. 2- Go to the "more properties" (while the curve is still selected). 3- Turn "HandleVisibility" off.

How do I edit legend entries? ›

Edit legend entries in the Select Data Source dialog box

On the Design tab, in the Data group, click Select Data. In the Select Data Source dialog box, in the Legend Entries (Series) box, select the legend entry that you want to change. Click Edit.

How does legend work in MATLAB? ›

legend associates strings with the objects in the Axes in the same order that they are listed in the Axes Children property. By default, the legend annotates the current Axes. MATLAB displays only one legend per Axes. legend positions the legend based on a variety of factors, such as what objects the legend obscures.

How do I reduce the size of the legend in MATLAB? ›

You can change the font size for a MATLAB legend by setting the 'FontSize' property of the Legend object. For example, plot four lines. Create a legend and assign the Legend object to the variable 'lgd'. Then, use dot notation to access the 'FontSize' property and set the value to 14 points.

How to add legend in MATLAB scope? ›

On the Scope tab, the Configuration section allows you to modify the scope. The Legend button turns the legend on or off. When you show the legend, you can control which signals are shown.

How to add a legend to a subplot in MATLAB? ›

Direct link to this answer
  1. Each subplot is a unique axis. The legend command lets you specify the axis where the legend will be created:
  2. "LEGEND(AX,...) puts a legend on the axes with handle AX."
  3. So if you get the axis handles when you create the subplots you can then specify the legend for each subplot.
Feb 16, 2012

What is the legend function in Matplotlib? ›

legend() A legend is used to describe elements for a particular area of a graph. Python has a function called legend() which is used to place a legend on the axis. The legend function has an attribute called loc which is used to denote the location of the legend.

How to add legend to contour MATLAB? ›

clegendm( C , h ) adds a legend specifying the contour line heights, C , to the current map contour plot, h . clegendm( C , h , loc ) places the legend in a specified location. clegendm(___, unitstr ) appends a string unitstr to each entry in the legend.

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