MATLAB Answers

Legend Positioning in Tiled Chart Layout

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Manuel Eichenlaub
Manuel Eichenlaub on 15 Feb 2020
Commented: Adam Danz on 23 Sep 2020 at 21:03
I have created 2 by 2 tiled chart and I want to position the legend centered above the figure. For some reason, MATLAB 2019b, which I am using, has locked the 'Position' property of the legend when usend in a tiled chart.
Firstly, why would they do this, and secondly does someone know a workaround?
Thanks,
Manuel

  1 Comment

Kyle Johnson
Kyle Johnson on 23 Sep 2020 at 15:55
I have the same problem. I have even tried specifying the legend position to none.

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Answers (2)

Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 23 Sep 2020 at 16:23
" MATLAB 2019b ... has locked the 'Position' property of the legend when usend in a tiled chart."
Yes, that's correct.
Starting in r2020b the legend placement is more flexible and supports changes to the position propery as well as setting "location" relative to the tiled layout.
x = magic(4);
figure()
tiledlayout(2,2)
ax(1) = nexttile;
plot(x,'.','MarkerSize', 20)
ax(2) = nexttile;
bar(x,'stacked')
ax(3) = nexttile;
plot(x,'-','LineWidth', 2)
ax(4) = nexttile;
contour(x,'LineWidth',2)
ax(4).Colormap = lines(256);
lh =legend(ax(1),'Location','NorthOutside','Orientation','Horizontal');
lh.Layout.Tile = 'North'; % <----- relative to tiledlayout

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Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 23 Sep 2020 at 19:45
Why not just use subplot() to create all 4 axes instead of tiledlayout? The legend position is changeable with subplots in older (and current) releases.
'Wow, it is really nice to see that the developers of MATLAB listen to the community,"
Agreed!
Manuel Eichenlaub
Manuel Eichenlaub on 23 Sep 2020 at 20:08
The reason I am using the tiled layout in the first place is because it offers a nice way to efficiently fill the complete figure by the axes like I my example above and have all axes the same sizes irrespective of labels or the layout, e.g. 2x2. I find this quite important when exporting the figures as pictures, e.g. for publications.
When using subplot, it always annoyed me that it leaves a lot of white space on the borders and in between the axes by default, which I find wasteful when you have limited space for a figure on a page. As far as I know there is no way to change that without setting the sizes of each axis individually. I have tried to write scripts to do this automatically in the past, but it was always a hustle so I ended up setting the sizes of the axis by hand. But thanks to the tiled layout this is no longer necessary.
Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 23 Sep 2020 at 21:03
In the past I've use tight_subplot from the file exchange to do what you're describing with regular subplots.

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Kyle Johnson
Kyle Johnson on 23 Sep 2020 at 16:27
So this is really annoying. This is the workaround I developed. You can just create a new axis over the entire tiled layout, plot some NaNs there, and then set that axis to invisible. You then have a floating legend to reposition.
I made some room for that legend by adjusting the inner position of the tiled layout.
axs is an array containing all of the axes handles. t is the handle to the tiled layout.
var1name = 'annoyance (metric ton)';
var2name = 'frustration (ounces)';
ylabel(axs(1),var1name)
ylabel(axs(2),['mean: ' var1name])
ylabel(axs(3),var2name)
ylabel(axs(4),['mean: ' var2name])
xlabel(axs(3),'coding hour (hr)');
xlabel(axs(4),'coding hour (hr)');
t.InnerPosition = [t.InnerPosition(1) .15 t.InnerPosition(3) (t.InnerPosition(4)+t.InnerPosition(1)-.15)];
tmp = axes(fh1);
plot(tmp,nan,nan,'.','color',c(1,:))
hold on
plot(tmp,nan,nan,'.','color',c(2,:))
l = legend(tmp,{'attempt1','attempt2'},'Orientation','horizontal');
l.Position(1:2) = [.5-l.Position(3)/2 .025];
l.Title.String = 'Attempts';
tmp.Visible = 'off';

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