# how to label lines on a graph

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Harold on 1 Dec 2011
Edited: DGM on 16 Jan 2024
I have a program which asks for variable values of k. A function inputs these into an equation and displays a line on a graph for each value of k. How can i label each of these lines with the value of k used for each. The problem i am having is that the k values are variable and so are the amount of lines displayed on the graph, so i can't figure out how to do this for the values that are fed to the function. Any help would be much appreciated? Thanks, Scott
Zach Leo on 4 Aug 2023

Maël Pouget on 10 Aug 2021
I know the question is 10 years old, but
plot(curve,'DisplayName','Curve name for the legend')
% or
ax = axes();
hold(ax,'on');
for i = 1:10
plot(i*(1:10),'DisplayName',['Curve #' num2str(i)])
end
hold(ax,'off');
legend();
does the trick (for anyone who, like me, tumbles on this question while trying to name their lines within the plot() call.
Paul Lebow on 1 Feb 2023
Perfect!

Chad Greene on 10 Aug 2014
label might do the trick.
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Basil Eldeeb on 11 Mar 2021
lol
Carolyn on 27 Nov 2022
Bruh

Michael on 1 Dec 2011
The general method would be using the legend function, to which you give a vector of the plot object handles and a series of corresponding strings. For example,
figure; hold on
a1 = plot(x,y1); M1 = "Curve 1";
a2 = plot(x,y2); M2 = "Curve 2";
legend([a1,a2], [M1, M2]);
The legend makes the connection between the plot object a1 and the string M1, and uses this to generate the legend. All you must do in your loop is devise a way to generate ai and Mi for a general integer i. I don't have MATLAB open now to test it but I think there must be a way using a combination of sprintf/num2str:
sprintf('object%s',num2str(a));
Returns "object1" if a=1, "object2" if a=2, etc.,
Hope this helps, though not a complete answer. Mike
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David Vargas on 23 Apr 2016
This also will not work. The legend uses a vector of plots and a list of labels, and the double quotes should be single quotes:
figure; hold on
a1 = plot(x,y1); M1 = 'Curve 1';
a2 = plot(x,y2); M2 = 'Curve 2';
legend([a1;a2], M1, M2)
ananya mittal on 3 Jun 2020
Is there any way of naming around 100 curves in a plot ? This manual way can be very time taking.

Matt Tearle on 1 Dec 2011
How about overlaying text on the graph, next to the lines?
line(x,y) % or plot(x,y) with a hold on
text(max(x),max(y),num2str(k))
You could play with the (x,y) location of the text. When you say "line" do you mean a straight line or, in general, a curve? The former would make calculating placement very easy; the latter would require some more cleverness, unless max or min works for you.
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Matt Tearle on 1 Dec 2011
Great, then what I have should do the job... unless the curves all converge at the ends or something :)
What co ordinates should I specify when I want the text to be on the first point of the curve? text (x(1),y(1), labels) is not working

Igor Kubyshkin on 26 Feb 2019
Edited: DGM on 16 Jan 2024
function text2line(h,ksi,z,T)
% Inserts text T in/near line with handle h
% ksi - relative distance from the beginning of curve,
% z - shift along normal to curve
%
set(gcf, 'CurrentObject', h)
x=h.XData;
y=h.YData;
i = round(ksi*numel(x));
% Get the local slope
dy=y(i+1)-y(i-1);
dx=x(i+1)-x(i-1);
d = dy/dx;
X = diff(get(gca, 'xlim'));
Y = diff(get(gca, 'ylim'));
p = pbaspect;
a = atan(d*p(2)*X/p(1)/Y)*180/pi;
% Display the text
switch z==0
case 1
text(x(i), y(i), T,'HorizontalAlignment','center', 'BackgroundColor', 'w', 'rotation', a);
case 0
ez=[dy,-dx]/norm([dy,-dx]); % unit normal vector
text(x(i)+z*ez(1), y(i)+z*ez(2), T, 'HorizontalAlignment','center', 'rotation', a);
end
Samim on 15 Jan 2024
Edited: Samim on 15 Jan 2024
what to input for the variable h in the function ?
DGM on 16 Jan 2024
Edited: DGM on 16 Jan 2024
Here's an example. Bear in mind that the offset parameter doesn't really work right unless dataaspect is unitiy.
% fake data
x = linspace(-5,5);
y = x.^3-12*x;
% plot the line
hp = plot(x,y); % get the handle for the line object
str = 'banana'; % label text
ksi = 0.35; % normalized position along the curve
os = 0; % offset distance from the curve (doesn't work)
text2line(hp,ksi,os,str);
function text2line(h,ksi,z,T)
% Inserts text T in/near line with handle h
% ksi - relative distance from the beginning of curve,
% z - shift along normal to curve
%
set(gcf, 'CurrentObject', h)
x=h.XData;
y=h.YData;
i = round(ksi*numel(x));
i = min(max(i,2),numel(x)-1);
% Get the local slope
dy=y(i+1)-y(i-1);
dx=x(i+1)-x(i-1);
d = dy/dx;
X = diff(get(gca, 'xlim'));
Y = diff(get(gca, 'ylim'));
p = pbaspect;
a = atan(d*p(2)*X/p(1)/Y)*180/pi;
% Display the text
switch z==0
case 1
text(x(i), y(i), T,'HorizontalAlignment','center', 'BackgroundColor', 'w', 'rotation', a);
case 0
ez=[dy,-dx]/norm([dy,-dx]); % unit normal vector
text(x(i)+z*ez(1), y(i)+z*ez(2), T, 'HorizontalAlignment','center', 'rotation', a);
end
end

Nathaniel W on 8 May 2018
Really late answer, but I was trying to do this same thing earlier. Here's a solution that works, and allows you to use if statments to add additional plots and labels:
t=1:1:10;
x=t;
val=true;
plots = plot(t,x,t,2*x);
names={'x=t','x=2t'};
hold on
if val
plots(end+1)=plot(t,x.*x);
names{end+1}='x=t^2';
end
legend(plots,names)
Credit to this answer for making legend text append work.

Emmanuel Adesina on 24 Apr 2021
@Matt Tearle Solution works fine, but puts all labels almost on same line...
line(x,y) % or plot(x,y) with a hold on
if max(y) > 0
text(max(x), max(y), num2str(k))
end
if max(dtm) < 0
text(max(x), min(y), num2str(k))
end
This checks if the plot is positive or negative and places the label accordingly
If you set both as min, it will place it at the origin of the line.
I hope there's a means to set it at the mid-point or other coordinates on the line.

Sergio Yanez-Pagans on 21 Aug 2021

piston_pim_offset on 14 Nov 2023
x = linspace(-5,5);
y = x.^3-12*x;
plot(x,y)
xt = [-2 2]; % Location the text will be
str = 'dy/dx = 0'; % text
text(xt,str)
Error using text
Inputs must be x, y, and optionally z coordinates followed by a character vector, cell array of character vectors, string array, or categorical array.
Voss on 14 Nov 2023
x = linspace(-5,5);
y = x.^3-12*x;
plot(x,y)
xt = [-2 2]; % Location the text will be
str = 'dy/dx = 0'; % text
text(xt(1),xt(2),str)
piston_pim_offset on 14 Nov 2023
thanks for correction