Adding a matplotlib legend


How can one create a legend for a line graph in Matplotlib‘s PyPlot without creating any extra variables?

Please consider the graphing script below:

if __name__ == '__main__':
    PyPlot.plot(total_lengths, sort_times_bubble, 'b-',
                total_lengths, sort_times_ins, 'r-',
                total_lengths, sort_times_merge_r, 'g+',
                total_lengths, sort_times_merge_i, 'p-', )
    PyPlot.title("Combined Statistics")
    PyPlot.xlabel("Length of list (number)")
    PyPlot.ylabel("Time taken (seconds)")

As you can see, this is a very basic use of matplotlib‘s PyPlot. This ideally generates a graph like the one below:


Nothing special, I know. However, it is unclear what data is being plotted where (I’m trying to plot the data of some sorting algorithms, length against time taken, and I’d like to make sure people know which line is which). Thus, I need a legend, however, taking a look at the following example below(from the official site):

ax = subplot(1,1,1)
p1, = ax.plot([1,2,3], label="line 1")
p2, = ax.plot([3,2,1], label="line 2")
p3, = ax.plot([2,3,1], label="line 3")

handles, labels = ax.get_legend_handles_labels()

# reverse the order
ax.legend(handles[::-1], labels[::-1])

# or sort them by labels
import operator
hl = sorted(zip(handles, labels),
handles2, labels2 = zip(*hl)

ax.legend(handles2, labels2)

You will see that I need to create an extra variable ax. How can I add a legend to my graph without having to create this extra variable and retaining the simplicity of my current script?

Asked By: Games Brainiac



Add labels to each argument in your plot call corresponding to the series it is graphing, i.e. label = "series 1"

Then simply add Pyplot.legend() to the bottom of your script and the legend will display these labels.

Answered By: blaklaybul

Add a label= to each of your plot() calls, and then call legend(loc='upper left').

Consider this sample (tested with Python 3.8.0):

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

x = np.linspace(0, 20, 1000)
y1 = np.sin(x)
y2 = np.cos(x)

plt.plot(x, y1, "-b", label="sine")
plt.plot(x, y2, "-r", label="cosine")
plt.legend(loc="upper left")
plt.ylim(-1.5, 2.0)

enter image description here
Slightly modified from this tutorial:

Answered By: Robᵩ

Here’s an example to help you out …

fig = plt.figure(figsize=(10,5))
ax = fig.add_subplot(111)
ax.set_title('ADR vs Rating (CS:GO)')
plt.plot(data[:,0], m*data[:,0] + b,color='red',label='Our Fitting 

enter image description here

Answered By: Akash Kandpal

You can access the Axes instance (ax) with plt.gca(). In this case, you can use


You can do this either by using the label= keyword in each of your plt.plot() calls or by assigning your labels as a tuple or list within legend, as in this working example:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
x = np.linspace(-0.75,1,100)
y0 = np.exp(2 + 3*x - 7*x**3)
y1 = 7-4*np.sin(4*x)


However, if you need to access the Axes instance more that once, I do recommend saving it to the variable ax with

ax = plt.gca()

and then calling ax instead of plt.gca().

Answered By: cameronroytaylor

A simple plot for sine and cosine curves with a legend.

Used matplotlib.pyplot

import math
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
for i in range(-314,314):
ysin=[math.sin(i) for i in x]
ycos=[math.cos(i) for i in x]
plt.plot(x,ysin,label='sin(x)')  #specify label for the corresponding curve

Sin and Cosine plots (click to view image)

Answered By: sajalagrawal

You can add a custom legend documentation

first = [1, 2, 4, 5, 4]
second = [3, 4, 2, 2, 3]
plt.plot(first, 'g--', second, 'r--')
plt.legend(['First List', 'Second List'], loc='upper left')

enter image description here

Answered By: Boris Yakubchik
Categories: questions Tags: , ,
Answers are sorted by their score. The answer accepted by the question owner as the best is marked with
at the top-right corner.