swarmchart
Syntax
Description
Vector and Matrix Data
swarmchart(
displays a swarm chart, which is a scatter plot with the points offset (jittered) in the
x
,y
)x
dimension. The points form distinct shapes, and the outline of each
shape is similar to a violin plot. Swarm charts help you to visualize discrete
x
data with the distribution of the y
data. At
each location in x
, the points are jittered based on the kernel density
estimate of y
.
To plot one set of points, specify
x
andy
as vectors of equal length.To plot multiple sets of points on the same set of axes, specify at least one of
x
ory
as a matrix.
swarmchart(___,
specifies a
different marker than the default marker, which is a circle. Specify
mkr
)mkr
after all the arguments in any of the previous syntaxes.
Table Data
swarmchart(
plots the variables tbl
,xvar
,yvar
)xvar
and yvar
from the table
tbl
. To plot one data set, specify one variable for
xvar
and one variable for yvar
. To plot multiple
data sets, specify multiple variables for xvar
,
yvar
, or both. If both arguments specify multiple variables, they must
specify the same number of variables.
Additional Options
swarmchart(
displays the
swarm chart in the target axes. Specify the axes before all the arguments in any of the
previous syntaxes.ax
,___)
swarmchart(___,
specifies additional properties for the swarm chart using one or more namevalue
arguments. Specify the properties after all other input arguments. For example:Name,Value
)
swarmchart(x,y,'LineWidth',2)
creates a swarm chart with 2point marker outlines.swarmchart(tbl,'MyX','MyY','ColorVariable','MyColors')
creates a swarm chart from data in a table, and customizes the marker colors using data from the table.swarmchart(x,y,'YJitter','density')
creates a horizontal swarm chart. (since R2023b)
For a list of properties, see Scatter Properties.
s = swarmchart(___)
returns the
Scatter
object or an array of Scatter
objects. Use
s
to modify properties of the chart after creating it. For a list of
properties, see Scatter Properties.
Examples
Create Swarm Chart
Create a vector of x
coordinates, and use the randn
function to generate normally distributed random values for y
. Then create a swarm chart of x
and y
.
x = [ones(1,500) 2*ones(1,500) 3*ones(1,500)]; y1 = 2 * randn(1,500); y2 = 3 * randn(1,500) + 5; y3 = 5 * randn(1,500) + 5; y = [y1 y2 y3]; swarmchart(x,y)
Plot Multiple Data Sets with Custom Marker Size
Create three sets of x
and y
coordinates. Use the randn
function to generate random values for y
.
x1 = ones(1,500); x2 = 2 * ones(1,500); x3 = 3 * ones(1,500); y1 = 2 * randn(1,500); y2 = [randn(1,250) randn(1,250) + 4]; y3 = 5 * randn(1,500) + 5;
Create a swarm chart of the first data set, and specify a uniform marker size of 5
. Then call hold on
to plot the second and third data sets together with the first data set. Call hold off
to release the hold state of the axes.
swarmchart(x1,y1,5) hold on swarmchart(x2,y2,5) swarmchart(x3,y3,5) hold off
Specify Marker Type
Read the BicycleCounts.csv
data set into a timetable called tbl
. This data set contains bicycle traffic data over a period of time. Display the first five rows of tbl
.
tbl = readtable("BicycleCounts.csv");
tbl(1:5,:)
ans=5×5 table
Timestamp Day Total Westbound Eastbound
___________________ _____________ _____ _________ _________
20150624 00:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 13 9 4
20150624 01:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 3 3 0
20150624 02:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 1 1 0
20150624 03:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 1 1 0
20150624 04:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 1 1 0
Create a vector x
with the day name from each observation, and another vector y with the bicycle traffic observed. Then create a swarm chart of x
and y
, and specify the point marker ('.')
. The chart shows the distribution of bicycle traffic according to the day of the week.
daynames = ["Sunday" "Monday" "Tuesday" "Wednesday" "Thursday" "Friday" "Saturday"]; x = categorical(tbl.Day,daynames); y = tbl.Total; swarmchart(x,y,'.');
Display Filled Markers with Varied Color
Read the BicycleCounts.csv
data set into a timetable called tbl
. Create a vector x
with the day name for each observation, another vector y
with the bicycle traffic observed, and a third vector c
with the hour of the day.
Then create a swarm chart of x
and y
, and specify the marker size as 20
. Specify the colors of the markers as vector c
. The values in the vector index into the figure's colormap. Thus, the colors change according to the hour for each data point. Use the 'filled'
option to fill the markers with color instead of displaying them as hollow circles.
tbl = readtable("BicycleCounts.csv"); daynames = ["Sunday" "Monday" "Tuesday" "Wednesday" "Thursday" "Friday" "Saturday"]; x = categorical(tbl.Day,daynames); y = tbl.Total; c = hour(tbl.Timestamp); swarmchart(x,y,20,c,'filled');
Change Jitter Type and Jitter Width
Read the BicycleCounts.csv
data set into a timetable called tbl
. Create a vector x
with the day name for each observation, another vector y
with the bicycle traffic observed, and a third vector c
with the hour of the day. Then create a swarm chart of x
and y
, and specify the marker size as 5
, and the colors of the markers as vector c
. Call the swarmchart
function with the return argument s
, so that you can modify the chart after creating it.
tbl = readtable("BicycleCounts.csv"); daynames = ["Sunday" "Monday" "Tuesday" "Wednesday" "Thursday" "Friday" "Saturday"]; x = categorical(tbl.Day,daynames); y = tbl.Total; c = hour(tbl.Timestamp); s = swarmchart(x,y,5,c);
Change the shapes of the clusters at each x
location, so that the points are uniformly and randomly distributed and the spacing is limited to no more than 0.5
data units.
s.XJitter = 'rand';
s.XJitterWidth = 0.5;
Create Horizontal Swarm Chart
Since R2023b
You can create a horizontal swarm chart by setting the YJitter
property when you call the swarmchart
function.
For example, create three normal distributions of 500 numbers and a categorical vector of town names. Then create a horizontal swarm chart of the data by calling the swarmchart
function and specifying the YJitter
namevalue argument.
x = randn(500,3) + [1 4 6]; towns = categorical(["Stowe" "Wayland" "Natick"]); y = repmat(towns,500,1); swarmchart(x,y,YJitter="density")
Specify Filled Markers with Transparency
Create a pair of x
and y
coordinates. Use the randn
function to generate random values for y
. Then create a swarm chart with filled markers that are 50% transparent both on their faces and on their edges.
x1 = ones(1,500); x2 = 2 * ones(1,500); x = [x1 x2]; y1 = 2 * randn(1,500); y2 = [randn(1,250) randn(1,250) + 4]; y = [y1 y2]; swarmchart(x,y,'filled','MarkerFaceAlpha',0.5,'MarkerEdgeAlpha',0.5)
Plot Data from a Table
A convenient way to plot data from a table is to pass the table to the swarmchart
function and specify the variables you want to plot. For example, create a table with three variables of random numbers, and plot the X
and Y1
variables. By default, the axis labels match the variable names.
tbl = table(randi(2,100,1),randn(100,1),randn(100,1)+10, ... 'VariableNames',{'X','Y1','Y2'}); swarmchart(tbl,'X','Y1')
You can also plot multiple variables at the same time. For example, plot the Y1
and Y2
variables on the yaxis by specifying the yvar
argument as the cell array {'Y1','Y2'}
. Then add a legend. The legend labels match the variable names.
swarmchart(tbl,'X',{'Y1','Y2'}) legend
Plot Table Data with Custom Marker Sizes and Colors
One way to plot data from a table and customize the colors and marker sizes is to set the ColorVariable
and SizeData
properties. You can set these properties as namevalue arguments when you call the swarmchart
function, or you can set them on the Scatter
object later.
For example, create a table with three variables of random numbers, and plot the X
and Y
variables with filled markers. Vary the marker colors by specifying the ColorVariable
namevalue argument. Return the Scatter
object as s
, so you can set other properties later.
tbl = table(randi(2,100,1),randn(100,1),randn(100,1), ... 'VariableNames',{'X','Y','Colors'}); s = swarmchart(tbl,'X','Y','filled','ColorVariable','Colors');
Change the marker sizes to 100 points by setting the SizeData
property.
s.SizeData = 100;
Specify the Target Axes
Read the BicycleCounts.csv
data set into a timetable called tbl
. This data set contains bicycle traffic data over a period of time. Display the first five rows of tbl
.
tbl = readtable("BicycleCounts.csv");
tbl(1:5,:)
ans=5×5 table
Timestamp Day Total Westbound Eastbound
___________________ _____________ _____ _________ _________
20150624 00:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 13 9 4
20150624 01:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 3 3 0
20150624 02:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 1 1 0
20150624 03:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 1 1 0
20150624 04:00:00 {'Wednesday'} 1 1 0
Define x
as a categorical array of the day names in the table. Define yEast
and yWest
as vectors containing the eastbound and westbound bicycle traffic counts.
daynames = ["Sunday" "Monday" "Tuesday" "Wednesday" "Thursday" "Friday" "Saturday"]; x = categorical(tbl.Day,daynames); yEast = tbl.Eastbound; yWest = tbl.Westbound;
Create a tiled chart layout in the 'flow'
tile arrangement, so that the axes fill the available space in the layout. Call the nexttile
function to create an axes object and return it as ax1
. Then create a swarm chart of the eastbound data by passing ax1
to the swarmchart
function.
tiledlayout('flow') ax1 = nexttile; y = tbl.Eastbound; swarmchart(ax1,x,y,'.')
Repeat the process to create a second axes object and a swarm chart for the westbound traffic.
ax2 = nexttile;
y = tbl.Westbound;
swarmchart(ax2,x,y,'.')
Input Arguments
x
— xcoordinates
scalar  vector  matrix
xcoordinates, specified as a scalar, vector, or matrix. The size
and shape of x
depends on the shape of your data. This table
describes the most common situations.
Type of Plot  How to Specify Coordinates 

Single point  Specify swarmchart(1,1) 
One set of points  Specify x = randi(3,100,1); y = randn(1,100); swarmchart(x,y) 
Multiple sets of points that are different colors  If all the sets share the same x or ycoordinates, specify the shared coordinates as a vector and the other coordinates as a matrix. The length of the vector must match one of the dimensions of the matrix. For example: x = randi(2,1,100); y = [randn(100,1) randn(100,1)+5]; swarmchart(x,y,100) swarmchart plots a separate set
of points for each column in the matrix.Alternatively, specify
x = randi(2,100,2); y = [randn(100,1) randn(100,1)+5]; swarmchart(x,y,100) 
Data Types: single
 double
 int8
 int16
 int32
 int64
 uint8
 uint16
 uint32
 uint64
 categorical
y
— ycoordinates
scalar  vector  matrix
ycoordinates, specified as a scalar, vector, or matrix. The size
and shape of y
depends on the shape of your data. This table
describes the most common situations.
Type of Plot  How to Specify Coordinates 

Single point  Specify swarmchart(1,1) 
One set of points  Specify x = randi(3,100,1); y = randn(1,100); swarmchart(x,y) 
Multiple sets of points that are different colors  If all the sets share the same x or ycoordinates, specify the shared coordinates as a vector and the other coordinates as a matrix. The length of the vector must match one of the dimensions of the matrix. For example: x = randi(2,1,100); y = [randn(100,1) randn(100,1)+5]; swarmchart(x,y,100) swarmchart plots a separate set
of points for each column in the matrix.Alternatively, specify
x = randi(2,100,2); y = [randn(100,1) randn(100,1)+5]; swarmchart(x,y,100) 
Data Types: single
 double
 int8
 int16
 int32
 int64
 uint8
 uint16
 uint32
 uint64
 categorical
 datetime
 duration
sz
— Marker size
36 (default)  numeric scalar  row or column vector  matrix  []
Marker size, specified as a numeric scalar, vector, matrix, or empty array
([]
). The size controls the area of each marker in points squared.
An empty array specifies the default size of 36 points. The way you specify the size
depends on how you specify x
and y
, and how you
want the plot to look. This table describes the most common situations.
Desired Marker Sizes  x and y
 sz  Example 

Same size for all points  Any valid combination of vectors or matrices described for
 Scalar  Specify x = randi(2,1,100); y = randn(100,1); swarmchart(x,y,100) 
Different size for each point  Vectors of the same length 
 Specify x = randi(2,1,100); y = randn(100,1); sz = randi([70 2000],100,1); swarmchart(x,y,sz) Specify
x = randi(2,1,100); y = randn(100,1); sz = randi([70 2000],100,2); swarmchart(x,y,sz) 
Different size for each point  At least one of 
 Specify x = randi(2,1,100); y = [randn(100,1) randn(100,1)+5]; sz = randi([70 2000],100,1); swarmchart(x,y,sz) Specify
x = randi(2,1,100); y = [randn(100,1) randn(100,1)+5]; sz = randi([70 2000],100,2); swarmchart(x,y,sz) 
c
— Marker color
color name  RGB triplet  matrix of RGB triplets  vector of colormap indices
Marker color, specified as a color name, RGB triplet, matrix of RGB triplets, or a vector of colormap indices.
Color name — A color name such as
'red'
, or a short name such as'r'
.RGB triplet — A threeelement row vector whose elements specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of the color. The intensities must be in the range
[0,1]
; for example,[0.4 0.6 0.7]
. RGB triplets are useful for creating custom colors.Matrix of RGB triplets — A threecolumn matrix in which each row is an RGB triplet.
Vector of colormap indices — A vector of numeric values that is the same length as the
x
andy
vectors.
The way you specify the color depends on the desired color scheme and whether you are plotting one set of coordinates or multiple sets of coordinates. This table describes the most common situations.
Color Scheme  How to Specify the Color  Example 

Use one color for all the points.  Specify a color name or a short name from the table below, or specify one RGB triplet.  Plot one set of points, and specify the color as
x = randi(2,1,100);
y = randn(100,1);
c = 'red';
swarmchart(x,y,[],c) Plot two sets of points, and specify the color as red using an RGB triplet. x = randi(2,1,100); y = randn(100,1); c = [0.6 0 0.9]; swarmchart(x,y,[],c) 
Assign different colors to each point using a colormap.  Specify a row or column vector of numbers. The numbers index into the current colormap array. The smallest value maps to the first row in the colormap, and the largest value maps to the last row. The intermediate values map linearly to the intermediate rows. If your plot has three points, specify a column vector to ensure the values are interpreted as colormap indices. You can use this method only when
 Create a vector x = randi(2,1,100);
y = randn(100,1);
c = 1:100;
swarmchart(x,y,[],c)
colormap(gca,'winter') 
Create a custom color for each point.  Specify an mby3 matrix of RGB triplets, where m is the number of points in the plot. You can use this method only when
 Create a matrix x = randi(2,1,100); y = randn(100,1); c = rand(100,3); swarmchart(x,y,[],c) 
Create a different color for each data set.  Specify an nby3 matrix of RGB triplets, where n is the number of data sets. You can use this method only when at least one of
 Create a matrix x = randi(2,100,2); y = [randn(100,1) randn(100,1)+5]; c = [1 0 0; 0 0 1]; swarmchart(x,y,[],c) 
Color Names and RGB Triplets for Common Colors
Color Name  Short Name  RGB Triplet  Hexadecimal Color Code  Appearance 

"red"  "r"  [1 0 0]  "#FF0000"  
"green"  "g"  [0 1 0]  "#00FF00"  
"blue"  "b"  [0 0 1]  "#0000FF"  
"cyan"
 "c"  [0 1 1]  "#00FFFF"  
"magenta"  "m"  [1 0 1]  "#FF00FF"  
"yellow"  "y"  [1 1 0]  "#FFFF00"  
"black"  "k"  [0 0 0]  "#000000"  
"white"  "w"  [1 1 1]  "#FFFFFF" 
Here are the RGB triplets and hexadecimal color codes for the default colors MATLAB^{®} uses in many types of plots.
RGB Triplet  Hexadecimal Color Code  Appearance 

[0 0.4470 0.7410]  "#0072BD"  
[0.8500 0.3250 0.0980]  "#D95319"  
[0.9290 0.6940 0.1250]  "#EDB120"  
[0.4940 0.1840 0.5560]  "#7E2F8E"  
[0.4660 0.6740 0.1880]  "#77AC30"  
[0.3010 0.7450 0.9330]  "#4DBEEE"  
[0.6350 0.0780 0.1840]  "#A2142F" 
mkr
— Marker type
'o'
(default)  '+'
 '*'
 '.'
 'x'
 ...
Marker type, specified as one of the values listed in this table.
Marker  Description  Resulting Marker 

"o"  Circle 

"+"  Plus sign 

"*"  Asterisk 

"."  Point 

"x"  Cross 

"_"  Horizontal line 

""  Vertical line 

"square"  Square 

"diamond"  Diamond 

"^"  Upwardpointing triangle 

"v"  Downwardpointing triangle 

">"  Rightpointing triangle 

"<"  Leftpointing triangle 

"pentagram"  Pentagram 

"hexagram"  Hexagram 

'filled'
— Option to fill interior of markers
'filled'
Option to fill the interior of the markers, specified as
'filled'
. Use this option with markers that have a face, for example,
'o'
or 'square'
. Markers that do not have a face
and contain only edges do not render at all ('+'
,
'*'
, '.'
, and 'x'
).
The 'filled'
option sets the MarkerFaceColor
property of the Scatter
object to
'flat'
and the MarkerEdgeColor
property to
'none'
. In this case, MATLAB draws the marker faces, but not the edges.
tbl
— Source table
table  timetable
Source table containing the data to plot, specified as a table or a timetable.
xvar
— Table variables containing xcoordinates
one or more table variable indices
Table variables containing the xcoordinates, specified as one or more table variable indices.
Specifying Table Indices
Use any of the following indexing schemes to specify the desired variable or variables.
Indexing Scheme  Examples 

Variable names:


Variable index:


Variable type:


Plotting Your Data
The table variables you specify can contain numeric or categorical values.
To plot one data set, specify one variable for xvar
and one
variable for yvar
. For example, create a table with three variables
of normally distributed random values. Plot the X1
and
Y
variables.
tbl = table(randn(100,1),randn(100,1)+10,randn(100,1), ... 'VariableNames',{'X1','X2','Y'}); swarmchart(tbl,'X1','Y')
To plot multiple data sets together, specify multiple variables for
xvar
, yvar
, or both. If you specify multiple
variables for both arguments, the number of variables for each argument must be the
same.
For example, plot the X1
and X2
variables on
the xaxis and the Y
variable on the
yaxis.
swarmchart(tbl,{'X1','X2'},'Y')
You can also use different indexing schemes for xvar
and
yvar
. For example, specify xvar
as a variable
name and yvar
as an index
number.
swarmchart(tbl,'X1',3)
yvar
— Table variables containing ycoordinates
one or more table variable indices
Table variables containing the ycoordinates, specified as one or more table variable indices.
Specifying Table Indices
Use any of the following indexing schemes to specify the desired variable or variables.
Indexing Scheme  Examples 

Variable names:


Variable index:


Variable type:


Plotting Your Data
The table variables you specify can contain numeric, categorical, datetime, or duration values.
To plot one data set, specify one variable for xvar
and one
variable for yvar
. For example, create a table with three variables
of normally distributed random values. Plot the X1
and
Y
variables.
tbl = table(randn(100,1),randn(100,1)+10,randn(100,1), ... 'VariableNames',{'X1','X2','Y'}); swarmchart(tbl,'X1','Y')
To plot multiple data sets together, specify multiple variables for
xvar
, yvar
, or both. If you specify multiple
variables for both arguments, the number of variables for each argument must be the
same.
For example, plot the X1
and X2
variables on
the xaxis and the Y
variable on the
yaxis.
swarmchart(tbl,{'X1','X2'},'Y')
You can also use different indexing schemes for xvar
and
yvar
. For example, specify xvar
as a variable
name and yvar
as an index
number.
swarmchart(tbl,'X1',3)
ax
— Target axes
Axes
object  PolarAxes
object  GeographicAxes
object
Target axes, specified as an Axes
object, a
PolarAxes
object, or a GeographicAxes
object. If
you do not specify the axes, MATLAB plots into the current axes, or it creates an Axes
object if one does not exist.
NameValue Arguments
Specify optional pairs of arguments as
Name1=Value1,...,NameN=ValueN
, where Name
is
the argument name and Value
is the corresponding value.
Namevalue arguments must appear after other arguments, but the order of the
pairs does not matter.
Before R2021a, use commas to separate each name and value, and enclose
Name
in quotes.
Example: swarmchart(randi(4,500,1),randn(500,1),'MarkerFaceColor','red')
specifies red filled markers.
Note
The properties listed here are only a subset. For a complete list, see Scatter Properties.
XJitter
— Jitter type for xdimension
'none'
 'density'
 'rand'
 'randn'
Type of jitter (spacing of points) along the xdimension, specified as one of the following values:
'none'
— Do not jitter the points.'density'
— Jitter the points using the kernel density estimate of y for 2D charts. If you specify this option in two dimensions for a 3D chart, the points are jittered based on the kernel density estimate in the third dimension. For example, settingXJitter
andYJitter
to'density'
uses the kernel density estimate of z.'rand'
— Jitter the points randomly with a uniform distribution.'randn'
— Jitter points randomly with a normal distribution.
XJitterWidth
— Maximum jitter along xdimension
nonnegative scalar
Maximum amount of jitter (offset between points) along the xdimension, specified as a nonnegative scalar value in data units.
For example, to set the jitter width to 90% of the shortest distance between adjacent points,
take the minimum distance between unique values of x
and scale by
0.9
.
XJitterWidth = 0.9 * min(diff(unique(x)));
ColorVariable
— Table variable containing color data
table variable index
Table variable containing the color data, specified as a variable index into the source table.
Specifying the Table Index
Use any of the following indexing schemes to specify the desired variable.
Indexing Scheme  Examples 

Variable name:


Variable index:


Variable type:


Specifying Color Data
Specifying the ColorVariable
property controls the colors of the markers.
The data in the variable controls the marker fill color when the
MarkerFaceColor
property is set to
"flat"
. The data can also control the marker outline color,
when the MarkerEdgeColor
is set to
"flat"
.
The table variable you specify can contain values of any numeric type. The values can be in either of the following forms:
A column of numbers that linearly map into the current colormap.
A threecolumn array of RGB triplets. RGB triplets are threeelement vectors whose values specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of specific colors. The intensities must be in the range
[0,1]
. For example,[0.5 0.7 1]
specifies a shade of light blue.
When you set the ColorVariable
property, MATLAB updates the CData
property.
Algorithms
The points in a swarm chart are jittered using uniform random values that are weighted by
the Gaussian kernel density estimate of y
and the relative number of points
at each x
location. This behavior corresponds to the default
'density'
setting of the XJitter
property on the
Scatter
object when you call the swarmchart
function.
The maximum spread of points at each x
location is 90% of the smallest distance between adjacent x
values by
default:
spread = 0.9 * min(diff(unique(x)));
You can control the spread by setting the XJitterWidth
property of
the Scatter
object.
Horizontal swarm charts are jittered using the same algorithm, but the points are jittered
along the y
dimension using the Gaussian kernel density estimate of
x
. In this case, you control the spread using the
YJitterWidth
property.
Version History
Introduced in R2020bR2023b: Create horizontal swarm charts
Create a horizontal swarm chart by setting the YJitter
property
when you call the swarmchart
function. When you set the
YJitter
property without setting the XJitter
property, MATLAB sets the XJitter
property to "none"
,
and the resulting distributions in the chart are horizontal.
R2022b: Plots created with tables preserve special characters in axis and legend labels
When you pass a table and one or more variable names to the swarmchart
function, the axis and legend labels now display any special characters that are included in the table variable names, such as underscores. Previously, special characters were interpreted as TeX or LaTeX characters.
For example, if you pass a table containing a variable named Sample_Number
to the swarmchart
function, the underscore appears in the axis and
legend labels. In R2022a and earlier releases, the underscores are interpreted as
subscripts.
Release  Label for Table Variable "Sample_Number" 

R2022b 

R2022a 

To display axis and legend labels with TeX or LaTeX formatting, specify the labels manually.
For example, after plotting, call the xlabel
or
legend
function with the desired label strings.
xlabel("Sample_Number") legend(["Sample_Number" "Another_Legend_Label"])
R2021b: Pass tables directly to swarmchart
Create plots by passing a table to the swarmchart
function followed by the variables you want to plot. When you specify your data as a table, the axis labels and the legend (if present) are automatically labeled using the table variable names.
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