man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: July 2014

gnuplot (1)


gnuplot - an interactive plotting program


gnuplot [X11 options] [options] [file ...]


User Commands                                          GNUPLOT(1)

     gnuplot - an interactive plotting program

     gnuplot [X11 options] [options] [file ...]

     Gnuplot  is  a  command-driven interactive function plotting

     If file names are given on the command line,  gnuplot  loads
     each file with the load command, in the order specified, and
     exits after the last file is processed.   If  no  files  are
     given, gnuplot prompts for interactive commands.

     Here are some of its features:

     Plots  any  number  of functions, built up of C operators, C
     library functions, and some things C doesn't have  like  **,
     sgn(), etc.

     User-defined constants and functions.

     All  computations performed in the complex domain.  Just the
     real part is plotted by default, but functions  like  imag()
     and abs() and arg() are available to override this.

     Also support for plotting data files, to compare actual data
     to theoretical curves.

     Nonlinear least-squares fitting.

     2D plots with mouse-controlled zooming.

     3D plots with mouse-controlled point of view.

     User-defined X and Y ranges (optional  auto-ranging),  smart
     axes scaling, smart tic marks.

     Labelling of X and Y axes.

     Shell escapes and command line substitution.

     Load and save capability.

     Support for many output devices and file formats.

     Output redirection.

     -p,  --persist  lets plot windows survive after main gnuplot
     program exits.

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User Commands                                          GNUPLOT(1)

     -e "command list" executes  the  requested  commands  before
     loading the next input file.

     -h, --help print summary of usage

     -V show current version

     Gnuplot  provides  the  x11  terminal  type  for  use with X
     servers. This terminal type is set automatically at  startup
     if  the  DISPLAY  environment  variable  is set, if the TERM
     environment variable is set to xterm,  or  if  the  -display
     command line option is used.  For terminal type x11, gnuplot
     accepts the standard X Toolkit options and resources such as
     geometry,  font, and background. See the X(1) man page for a
     description of the options.  In addition to  the  X  Toolkit

     -clear  requests  that  the  window  be  cleared momentarily
     before a new plot is displayed.

     -gray requests grayscale rendering  on  grayscale  or  color
     displays.   (Grayscale displays receive monochrome rendering
     by default.)

     -mono forces monochrome rendering on color displays.

     -raise raises the plot window after each plot.

     -noraise does not raise the plot window after each plot.

     -tvtwm requests that geometry specifications for position of
     the  window be made relative to the currently displayed por-
     tion of the virtual root.

     These options may also be controlled with resources in  your
     .Xdefaults file.  For example: gnuplot*gray: on .

     Gnuplot  provides a command line option (-pointsize v) and a
     resource (gnuplot*pointsize:  v)  to  control  the  size  of
     points plotted with the "points" plotting style. The value v
     is a real number (greater than 0 and less than or  equal  to
     ten)  used as a scaling factor for point sizes. For example,
     -pointsize 2 uses points twice the default size, and -point-
     size 0.5 uses points half the normal size.

     For  monochrome  displays, gnuplot does not honor foreground
     or background colors. The default is black-on-white. -rv  or
     gnuplot*reverseVideo: on requests white-on-black.

     For  color  displays  gnuplot honors the following resources
     (shown here with default values). The values  may  be  color

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User Commands                                          GNUPLOT(1)

     names  in  the  X11 rgb.txt file on your system, hexadecimal
     RGB color specifications (see X11 documentation), or a color
     name followed by a comma and an intensity value from 0 to 1.
     For example, blue,.5 means a half intensity blue.

     gnuplot*background: white
     gnuplot*textColor: black
     gnuplot*borderColor: black
     gnuplot*axisColor: black
     gnuplot*line1Color: red
     gnuplot*line2Color: green
     gnuplot*line3Color: blue
     gnuplot*line4Color: magenta
     gnuplot*line5Color: cyan
     gnuplot*line6Color: sienna
     gnuplot*line7Color: orange
     gnuplot*line8Color: coral

     When  -gray  is  selected,  gnuplot  honors  the   following
     resources  for  grayscale or color displays (shown here with
     default values). Note that the default background is  black.

     gnuplot*background: black
     gnuplot*textGray: white
     gnuplot*borderGray: gray50
     gnuplot*axisGray: gray50
     gnuplot*line1Gray: gray100
     gnuplot*line2Gray: gray60
     gnuplot*line3Gray: gray80
     gnuplot*line4Gray: gray40
     gnuplot*line5Gray: gray90
     gnuplot*line6Gray: gray50
     gnuplot*line7Gray: gray70
     gnuplot*line8Gray: gray30

     Gnuplot honors the following resources for setting the width
     in pixels of plot lines (shown here with default values.)  0
     or 1 means a minimal width line of 1 pixel width. A value of
     2 or 3 may improve the  appearance of some plots.

     gnuplot*borderWidth: 2
     gnuplot*axisWidth: 0
     gnuplot*line1Width: 0
     gnuplot*line2Width: 0
     gnuplot*line3Width: 0
     gnuplot*line4Width: 0
     gnuplot*line5Width: 0
     gnuplot*line6Width: 0
     gnuplot*line7Width: 0
     gnuplot*line8Width: 0

     Gnuplot honors the following resources for setting the  dash

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User Commands                                          GNUPLOT(1)

     style  used  for  plotting lines.  0 means a solid line. A 2
     digit number jk (j and k are >= 1  and <= 9) means a  dashed
     line  with  a  repeated pattern of j pixels on followed by k
     pixels off.  For example, '16' is a  "dotted"  line  with  1
     pixel  on  followed  by 6 pixels off.  More elaborate on/off
     patterns can be specified with a 4 digit value.   For  exam-
     ple,  '4441' is 4 on, 4 off, 4 on, 1 off. The default values
     shown below are for monochrome displays or  monochrome  ren-
     dering  on  color or grayscale displays. For color displays,
     the defaults for all are 0 (solid  line)  except  for  axis-
     Dashes which defaults to a '16' dotted line.

     gnuplot*borderDashes: 0
     gnuplot*axisDashes: 16
     gnuplot*line1Dashes: 0
     gnuplot*line2Dashes: 42
     gnuplot*line3Dashes: 13
     gnuplot*line4Dashes: 44
     gnuplot*line5Dashes: 15
     gnuplot*line6Dashes: 4441
     gnuplot*line7Dashes: 42
     gnuplot*line8Dashes: 13

     The  size or aspect ratio of a plot may be changed by resiz-
     ing the gnuplot window.

     A number of shell environment variables  are  understood  by
     gnuplot.  None of these are required.

          The  name  of the terminal type to be used.  This over-
          rides any terminal type sensed by gnuplot on  start-up,
          but  is  itself  overridden by the .gnuplot (or equiva-
          lent) start-up file (see  FILES  and  "help  start-up")
          and, of course, by later explicit changes.

          The pathname of the HELP file (gnuplot.gih).

     HOME The  name  of a directory to search for a .gnuplot file
          if none is found in the current directory.

          An output filter for help messages.

          The program used for the "shell" command.

          Specifies a gnuplot command to be executed when  a  fit
          is interrupted---see "help fit".

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User Commands                                          GNUPLOT(1)

          The name of the logfile maintained by fit.

          Additional  search  directories  for  data  and command
          files. The variable  may  contain  a  single  directory
          name,  or  a  list of directories separated by ':'. The
          contents of GNUPLOT_LIB are appended to the  "loadpath"
          variable,  but not saved with the "save" and "save set"

          Several gnuplot terminal drivers access TrueType  fonts
          via  the  gd  library.   This  variable  gives the font
          search path for these drivers.

          The default font for the terminal drivers  that  access
          TrueType fonts via the gd library.

          The  font  search path used by the postscript terminal.
          The format is the same as for GNUPLOT_LIB. The contents
          of  GNUPLOT_FONTPATH  are  appended  to  the "fontpath"
          variable, but not saved with the "save" and "save  set"

          Used  by  the postscript driver to locate external pro-
          logue files. Depending on the  build  process,  gnuplot
          contains either a builtin copy of those files or simply
          a default hardcoded path. Use this variable to test the
          postscript  terminal  with  custom  prologue files. See
          "help postscript prologue".

          Gnuplot looks for this initialization  file,  first  in
          the  current directory, then in the HOME directory.  It
          may contain any legal gnuplot commands,  but  typically
          they  are  limited to setting the terminal and defining
          frequently-used functions or variables.

          The default name of the logfile maintained by fit.

     Thomas Williams, Pixar Corporation,
     and Colin Kelley.

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User Commands                                          GNUPLOT(1)

     Additions for labelling by Russell Lang, Monash  University,
     Further  additions  by  David  Kotz,  Dartmouth College, New
     Hampshire, USA (formerly of Duke University, North Carolina,

     See the help bugs command in gnuplot.

     See   attributes(5)   for   descriptions  of  the  following

     |Availability   | image/gnuplot    |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted      |
     See the printed manual or the on-line help  for  details  on
     specific commands.

     This   software   was   built   from   source  available  at   The   original
     community   source   was   downloaded  from   http://source-

     Further  information about this software can be found on the
     open source community website at

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