[R] Opinion on R plots: connecting X and Y

Stephen Tucker brown_emu at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 21 07:25:21 CEST 2007

Edward Tufte seems to have some opinions on this topic.

In The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Chapter 6: Data-Ink
Maximization and Graphical Design -> Redesign of the Scatterplot), he
presents several alternatives

(1) "non-data-bearing frame" in conventional scatterplots (equivalent to R's
bty="l"), which he argues is the common but less informative method.

(2) a little removal of ink from (1) can change axes to display the range of
the data ("range-frame").

(3) or, with slight modification of (2), fivenum().

(4) or even "dot-dash-plots" in which marginal frequency distribution are
displayed as the axis using dots and dashes.

I don't know that bty="n" with xaxs,yaxs equal to "i" or "r" meets any of
these criteria (and bty="l" is apparently less informative than his other

--- "Inman, Brant A.   M.D." <Inman.Brant at mayo.edu> wrote:

> Attention R users, especially those that are experienced enough to be
> opinionated, I need your input.
> Consider the following simple plot:
> x <- rnorm(100)
> y <- rnorm(100)
> plot(x, y, bty='n')
> A colleague (and dreaded SAS user) commented that she thought that my
> plots could be "cleaned up" by connecting the X and Y axes.  I know that
> I can do that with bty='l' but I don't want to, I find that the plots
> look less cluttered with disjoint axes.
> However, I was intrigued enough by her comments that I decided to
> solicit the opinions of others on this issue.  Are there principled
> reasons why one should prefer joined axes or disjoint axes?
> Brant Inman
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