# Plotting Graphs for Physics Labs - Maximize Scale & Break Axis

• Boogeyman
In summary, the speaker is struggling with determining the best scale for their graphs when plotting experimental data in physics labs. They also need help with "breaking the axis" when plotted points clump together due to close data. They recommend using plotting software such as xmgrace, gnuplot, or origin to scale the plot to match the range of the instrument and to use the zoom function for zooming in on a specific region of the plot.
Boogeyman
So I have a lot of physics labs to write up, and when drawing graphs (using experimental data) I have a tough time

1)Determining the best scale so my graph is as big as possible.
2)Determining the best scale so intercepts(y) appear on my graph.

Also, I would like help on "breaking the axis". For example when the plotted points "clump" together on the graph because there were a lot of close data on a particular axis. I never seem to do it right because my intercepts always end up being wrong.

Hi,
there are lots of plotting software..you have to get use to it then you can do what every you like..
I use the free ones like xmgrace, gnuplot (this is really a allrounder wonderful software that can also be used for fits in user defined functions).
Long back i used origin (not free i guess)..is also a good one.

I like to scale the plot to match the range of the instrument. So if you have a pressure instrument that reads 1500 to 2500 psi, use that for the scale on the plot. In my mind, this helps to put the 'noise' in the signal in perspective.

I'm not sure what you mean by breaking the axis

## 1. How do I choose the appropriate scale for my graph?

The appropriate scale for a graph depends on the range and precision of your data. The scale should cover the entire range of your data and should be evenly spaced to accurately represent the data points. It is also important to consider the size of your graph paper and the readability of the graph.

## 2. Should I always include a break in the axis of my graph?

No, a break in the axis should only be used if there is a large gap in the data or if there are extreme outliers that can skew the scale of the graph. It is important to clearly label and indicate the break in the axis to avoid any misinterpretation of the data.

## 3. How can I maximize the use of space on my graph?

To maximize the use of space on your graph, you can adjust the scale and spacing of the axis to fit more data points. You can also use a smaller font size for the labels and titles, but make sure they are still legible. Additionally, you can use a smaller graph paper or rotate the graph to a landscape orientation.

## 4. Is it necessary to plot all data points on a graph?

It is not necessary to plot every single data point on a graph, especially if there are a large number of data points. Instead, you can plot the average or mean of the data points or use a line of best fit to represent the trend of the data. However, it is important to clearly state which data points were omitted and why.

## 5. Can I use a logarithmic scale for my graph?

Yes, a logarithmic scale can be useful for representing data that covers a wide range of values. This scale is commonly used in physics labs for experiments involving exponential growth or decay. However, it is important to clearly label the axis and indicate that a logarithmic scale is being used.

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