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Project Tissot indicatrices on map axes


h = tissot
h = tissot(spec)
h = tissot(spec,linetype)
h = tissot(linestyle)
h = tissot(spec,PropertyName,PropertyValue,...)
h = tissot(linetype,PropertyName,PropertyValue,...)


h = tissot plots the default Tissot diagram, as described above, on the current map axes and returns handles for the displayed indicatrices.

h = tissot(spec) allows you to specify plotting parameters of the displayed Tissot diagram as described above.

h = tissot(spec,linetype) and h = tissot(linestyle) specifies the line style and color.

h = tissot(spec,PropertyName,PropertyValue,...) and h = tissot(linetype,PropertyName,PropertyValue,...) allow the specification of any property and value recognized by the line function.


Tissot indicatrices are plotting symbols that are useful for understanding the various distortions of a given map projection. The indicatrices are circles of identical true radius on the Earth's surface. When plotted on a map projection, they indicate whether the projection has certain features. If the plotted indicatrices all enclose the same area, the projection is equal area (for example, a Sinusoidal projection would have this feature). If they all remain circular, then conformality is indicated (a Mercator projection has this property). Distortions in meridional or parallel distance are exhibited by flattened or stretched indicatrices. Many projections will show very even, circular indicatrices in some regions, often near the center, and wildly distorted indicatrices in others, such as near the edges. The Tissot diagram is therefore very useful in analyzing the appropriateness of a projection to a given purpose or region.

The general layout of the Tissot diagram is defined by the specification vector spec.

spec = [Radius]
spec = [Latint,Longint]
spec = [Latint,Longint,Radius]
spec = [Latint,Longint,Radius,Points]

Radius is the small circle radius of each indicatrix circle. If entered, it should be in the same units as the map axes Geoid. The default radius is 1/10th the radius of the sphere.

Latint is the latitude interval between indicatrix circle centers. If entered it should be in the map axes AngleUnits. The default value is one circle every 30º of latitude (that is, 0º, +/-30º, etc.).

Longint is the longitude interval between indicatrix circle centers. If entered it should be in the map axes AngleUnits. The default value is one circle every 30º of latitude (that is, 0º, +/-30º, etc.).

Points is the number of plotting points per circle. The default is 100 points.


axesm sinusoid; framem

The Sinusoidal projection is equal area.


The Mercator projection is conformal.

More About

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Line Style and Color

Specify the line style and color as a character vector or string containing symbols. The symbols can appear in any order. You do not need to specify a color. For example, specify a red dashed line using 'r--'.

Line StyleDescriptionResulting Line
'-'Solid line

Sample of solid line

'--'Dashed line

Sample of dashed line

':'Dotted line

Sample of dotted line

'-.'Dash-dotted line

Sample of dash-dotted line, with alternating dashes and dots

Color NameShort NameAppearance

Sample of the color red


Sample of the color green


Sample of the color blue

'cyan' 'c'

Sample of the color cyan


Sample of the color magenta


Sample of the color yellow


Sample of the color black


Sample of the color white

Version History

Introduced before R2006a