How can I remove the top and right axis in matplotlib?


Instead of the default “boxed” axis style I want to have only the left and bottom axis, i.e.:

+------+         |
|      |         |
|      |   --->  |
|      |         |
+------+         +-------

This should be easy, but I can’t find the necessary options in the docs.

Asked By: Michael Kuhn



[edit] matplotlib in now (2013-10) on version 1.3.0 which includes this

That ability was actually just added, and you need the Subversion version for it. You can see the example code here.

I am just updating to say that there’s a better example online now. Still need the Subversion version though, there hasn’t been a release with this yet.

[edit] Matplotlib 0.99.0 RC1 was just released, and includes this capability.

Answered By: Autoplectic

If you don’t need ticks and such (e.g. for plotting qualitative illustrations) you could also use this quick workaround:

Make the axis invisible (e.g. with plt.gca().axison = False) and then draw them manually with plt.arrow.

Answered By: nikow

Alternatively, this

def simpleaxis(ax):

seems to achieve the same effect on an axis without losing rotated label support.

(Matplotlib 1.0.1; solution inspired by this).

Answered By: timday

This is the suggested Matplotlib 3 solution from the official website HERE:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

x = np.linspace(0, 2*np.pi, 100)
y = np.sin(x)

ax = plt.subplot(111)
ax.plot(x, y)

# Hide the right and top spines
ax.spines[['right', 'top']].set_visible(False)

enter image description here

Answered By: divenex

(This is more of an extension comment, in addition to the comprehensive answers here.)

Note that we can hide each of these three elements independently of each other:

  • To hide the border (aka “spine”): ax.set_frame_on(False) or ax.spines['top'].set_visible(False)

  • To hide the ticks: ax.tick_params(top=False)

  • To hide the labels: ax.tick_params(labeltop=False)

Answered By: Evgeni Sergeev

Library Seaborn has this built in with function .despine().

Just add:

import seaborn as sns

Now create your graph. And add at the end:


If you look at some of the default parameter values of the function it removes the top and right spine and keeps the bottom and left spine:

sns.despine(top=True, right=True, left=False, bottom=False)

Check out further documentation here:

Answered By: Sander van den Oord

If you need to remove it from all your plots, you can remove spines in style settings (style sheet or rcParams). E.g:

import matplotlib as mpl

mpl.rcParams['axes.spines.right'] = False
mpl.rcParams[''] = False

If you want to remove all spines:

mpl.rcParams['axes.spines.left'] = False
mpl.rcParams['axes.spines.right'] = False
mpl.rcParams[''] = False
mpl.rcParams['axes.spines.bottom'] = False
Answered By: hhh

Another way of doing this in a non-global way is using the matplotlib.pyplot.rc_context context manager, as follows:

with plt.rc_context({
    "axes.spines.right": False,
    "": False,
    fig, ax = plt.subplots()
Answered By: astrojuanlu

In case you want to apply this on a frequent basis, you can also create a style sheet as described here and use these settings:

axes.spines.left:   True
axes.spines.bottom: True    False
axes.spines.right:  False
Answered By: Dave

Although the accepted answer is good if all you want to do is turn off the axes lines, I would suggest getting familiar with the .set() function as you can pass additional kwargs controlling the line style, thickness, etc etc, making your code more flexible and re-usable. It also cuts down on the number of matplotlib functions you need to learn.

Op can do this:

but you can just as easily do something like this:

ax.spines.right.set(color='red', linestyle='--', linewidth=2, position=['data',2])'red', linestyle='--', linewidth=2, position=['data',5])

Using spines.set() to do things

See documentation here.

Answered By: Alex
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