plot {base}R Documentation

Generic X-Y Plotting


Generic function for plotting of R objects.

For simple scatter plots, plot.default will be used. However, there are plot methods for many R objects, including functions, data.frames, density objects, etc. Use methods(plot) and the documentation for these. Most of these methods are implemented using traditional graphics (the graphics package), but this is not mandatory.

For more details about graphical parameter arguments used by traditional graphics, see par.


plot(x, y, ...)



the coordinates of points in the plot. Alternatively, a single plotting structure, function or any R object with a plot method can be provided.


the y coordinates of points in the plot, optional if x is an appropriate structure.


arguments to be passed to methods, such as graphical parameters (see par). Many methods will accept the following arguments:


what type of plot should be drawn. Possible types are

  • "p" for points,

  • "l" for lines,

  • "b" for both,

  • "c" for the lines part alone of "b",

  • "o" for both ‘overplotted’,

  • "h" for ‘histogram’ like (or ‘high-density’) vertical lines,

  • "s" for stair steps,

  • "S" for other steps, see ‘Details’ below,

  • "n" for no plotting.

All other types give a warning or an error; using, e.g., type = "punkte" being equivalent to type = "p" for S compatibility. Note that some methods, e.g. plot.factor, do not accept this.


an overall title for the plot: see title.


a subtitle for the plot: see title.


a title for the x axis: see title.


a title for the y axis: see title.


the y/x aspect ratio, see plot.window.


The two step types differ in their x-y preference: Going from (x1,y1) to (x2,y2) with x1 < x2, type = "s" moves first horizontal, then vertical, whereas type = "S" moves the other way around.


The plot generic was moved from the graphics package to the base package in R 4.0.0. It is currently re-exported from the graphics namespace to allow packages importing it from there to continue working, but this may change in future versions of R.

See Also

plot.default, plot.formula and other methods; points, lines, par. For thousands of points, consider using smoothScatter() instead of plot().

For X-Y-Z plotting see contour, persp and image.


require(stats) # for lowess, rpois, rnorm
require(graphics) # for plot methods

plot(sin, -pi, 2*pi) # see ?plot.function

## Discrete Distribution Plot:
plot(table(rpois(100, 5)), type = "h", col = "red", lwd = 10,
     main = "rpois(100, lambda = 5)")

## Simple quantiles/ECDF, see ecdf() {library(stats)} for a better one:
plot(x <- sort(rnorm(47)), type = "s", main = "plot(x, type = \"s\")")
points(x, cex = .5, col = "dark red")

[Package base version 4.4.0 Index]