How do I skip items in a legend?
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henry wang on 25 Jan 2011
How do I skip items in legend? Say I have 6 plots with 3 actual values and 3 interpolated curves. I only want to label the actual value curves so
doesn't really work because the interpolated curve still shows.
Greg Vieira on 4 Sep 2021
How can you do this for multiple plots? For example, I have 1001 data sets plotted and only want the legend to show 1 of the first 1000 plots and the last plot. It is not reasonable for me to place 999 ' ' placeholders.
Kenneth Eaton on 10 Jan 2022
Edited: MathWorks Support Team on 10 Jan 2022
Starting in R2021a, you can leave an item out of a legend by setting the corresponding label to an empty character vector. For example, plot three lines. Then call the legend function and specify the second legend label as an empty character vector. The corresponding line is omitted from the legend.
plot(rand(3)); legend('Line 1','','Line 3')
Note that this strategy works when you specify just the labels, and not when you specify a set of objects to include in the legend.
For previous releases, you can specify the objects that you want to include as the first input argument to the “legend” function.
For example, plot three lines and return the “Line” objects as array “p”. Include only the first and third lines in the legend by specifying “p(1)” and “p(3)” as the first input argument to “legend”.
p = plot(rand(3)); \n legend([p(1) p(3)],'plot 1','plot 3')
Alternatively, you can set the “IconDisplayStyle” to “off” for the object that you do not want to include in the legend. For example, exclude the second “Line” object, “p(2)”.
p = plot(rand(3)); \n set(get(get(p(2),'Annotation'),'LegendInformation'),'IconDisplayStyle','off'); \n legend('plot 1','plot 3')
DGM on 18 Oct 2022
Edited: DGM on 18 Oct 2022
I was responding to @Dan Houck who was asking specifically for a means to avoid the implicit item removal that happens in R2021a. Leaving the unlabeled marker was the goal.
As to whether what Dan asked for is visually objectionable, you're free to tell him.
More Answers (11)
Matt Lobo on 1 Nov 2021
Edited: Matt Lobo on 30 Nov 2021
A really good method is to do what's mentioned at https://stackoverflow.com/questions/13685967/how-to-show-legend-for-only-a-specific-subset-of-curves-in-the-plotting.
Essentially set the 'HandleVisibility' attribute to 'off' when plotting something, as such:
This has some implications concerning interacting with that handle in other ways, but if you don't plan on using the handle, this is a great dynamic way to not include certain plots in your legend. It works especially well when you're plotting iteratively, and don't want to store handles and then hard-code the legend to fit your exact plot.
Walter Roberson on 25 Jan 2011
Edited: Rik on 5 Apr 2022
You can set the IconDisplayStyle to off for the items you do not wish a legend for. See this documentation.
Edit by @Rik (2022/04/05):
The link above was valid for the documentation from R2012a. The equivalent page in R2022a suggests a different strategy (i.e. only providing the handles to legend for the objects you wish to include). In the current release IconDisplayStyle is documentated under the properties of the graphics primitives (e.g. line objects or patch objects).
Documentation pages from specific releases will remain online for 5 years.
Junette Hsin on 21 Mar 2019
Edited: Junette Hsin on 21 Mar 2019
I ran into this problem and I have not seen this method suggested yet, but I solved it by changing the order of my plotted lines which affects what the legend displays (I am using MATLAB R2017b).
Let's say you plot 2 lines first, and then create a legend. Then you plot a 3rd line. That 3rd line will be added to your legend as 'data 1'.
Instead plot 3 lines, and then in your legend, label just the first 2 lines. The 3rd line will be omitted from the legend.
Hope this helps.
Yasin Zamani on 25 Sep 2019
Edited: Yasin Zamani on 25 Sep 2019
For example, suppose you want to skip the name of the first plot in the legend:
x = linspace(0, 2 * pi);
h = plot(x, sin(x));
% the following line skip the name of the previous plot from the legend
h.Annotation.LegendInformation.IconDisplayStyle = 'off';
Boris Blagojevic on 23 Jun 2021
An alternative approach: Prevent the legend from updating
First, plot the lines that you want to have labeled. Then, specify the legend and set
then, plot the remaining lines
the cyclist on 25 Jan 2011
Each curve has a handle, which can be obtained from the properties. Use the form of legend that takes two arguments (handle and legend), and only use the handles of those curves that you want to show.
Dilshad Raihan on 26 Oct 2015
Edited: Dilshad Raihan on 26 Oct 2015
You can do this by first plotting the curves in an order so that the lines you don't want to be displayed in the legend comes in the end. That is, suppose you have N lines to be plotted but you dont want to display m of these in the legend. Then first plot the required N-m lines and then the remaining m. After that, turn the legend on, click on the legend and the "legend property editor" will be displayed. Go to the "more properties" option. You can see an entry titled "String" specified as a "1xN cell array". Click on the cell array icon and set the size as "1xN-m". Now, only the first N-m curves will be displayed in Legend.
Diaa on 17 Nov 2020
Edited: Diaa on 17 Nov 2020
You can simply delete the last undesired entry by the following:
% assume you plotted some curves before this line and all of them are desired to be shown in the legend
hleg = legend('show');
plot(x,y) % you don't need this plot in the legend
hleg.String(end) = ; % delete the last legend entry of the very last plot
% continue plotting while copy and paste the previous line immediately after any plot you don't need in the legend
Amir Semnani on 9 Jun 2021
Thanks. That worked for me (MATLAB 2017b) and it's very simple. Let's assume we have 8 datasets and we want to plot all of them, but only want to see the legend for dataset with even number.
x=ones(100,1)*(1:8); plot(x);ylim([0 9]); hleg = legend ('show'); hleg.String(1:2:end)=;
Akshay Ravindran on 26 Nov 2015
Why is it that this error keeps coming up?
Walter Roberson on 17 Nov 2016
No, in each case where z w c etc are expressions that have no spaces in them, [z w c ...] is the same as [z, w, c, ...]
Spaces in expressions sometimes trigger parsing as if there were multiple expressions. For example:
is considered two expressions, 1 and -2*x
Luke Marsden on 2 Feb 2017
I am trying to do a similar thing using this line of code:
leg = legend([p4 RETU_Average activity1 Vulcanian1], 'Tilt', 'RETU Mean Amplitude', 'Activity', '"Vulcanian" Explosions', 'Location', 'northeast');
I am getting this error:
Error using matlab.graphics.chart.primitive.Line/horzcat
Cannot convert double value 23 to a handle
Error in p1_zoom_plot (line 93)
leg = legend([p4 RETU_Average, activity1 Vulcanian1], 'Tilt', 'RETU Mean Amplitude', 'Activity', '"Vulcanian" Explosions', 'Location', 'northeast');
Juan Carlos de Luna on 6 Apr 2020
Select line in Plot Browser and type
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