Home ยป How to Set Axis Breaks in ggplot2 (With Examples)

How to Set Axis Breaks in ggplot2 (With Examples)

by Tutor Aspire

You can use the following syntax to set the axis breaks for the y-axis and x-axis in ggplot2:

#set breaks on y-axis
scale_y_continuous(limits = c(0, 100), breaks = c(0, 50, 100))

#set breaks on y-axis
scale_x_continuous(limits = c(0, 10), breaks = c(0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10))

The following examples show how to use this syntax in practice with the following data frame:

#create data frame
df frame(x=c(1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10),
                 y=c(12, 17, 27, 39, 50, 57, 66, 80))

#view data frame
df

   x  y
1  1 12
2  2 17
3  4 27
4  5 39
5  7 50
6  8 57
7  9 66
8 10 80

Example 1: Set Y-Axis Breaks

The following code shows how to create a simple scatterplot using ggplot2:

library(ggplot2)

#create scatterplot of x vs. y
ggplot(df, aes(x=x, y=y)) +
  geom_point() 

By default, the y-axis shows breaks at 20, 40, 60, and 80. However, we can use the scale_y_continuous() function to display breaks at every 10 values instead:

#create scatterplot of x vs. y with custom breaks on y-axis
ggplot(df, aes(x=x, y=y)) +
  geom_point() +
  scale_y_continuous(limits = c(0, 100), breaks = seq(0, 100, 10))

Example 2: Set X-Axis Breaks

We can use the scale_x_continuous() function to set the breaks on the x-axis:

#create scatterplot of x vs. y with custom breaks on x-axis
ggplot(df, aes(x=x, y=y)) +
  geom_point() +
  scale_x_continuous(limits = c(0, 10), breaks = c(0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10))

We typically set axis breaks at uniform intervals, but we could choose to set axis breaks only at specific numbers.

For example, the following code shows how to display x-axis breaks only at the values 0, 7, and 10:

#create scatterplot of x vs. y with custom breaks on x-axis
ggplot(df, aes(x=x, y=y)) +
  geom_point() +
  scale_x_continuous(limits = c(0, 10), breaks = c(0, 7, 10))

Additional Resources

The following tutorials show how to perform other common operations in ggplot2:

How to Create a Log Scale in ggplot2
How to Set Axis Limits in ggplot2
How to Rotate Axis Labels in ggplot2

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