5 Best Ways to Show Points Coordinates in a Plot Using Python Matplotlib

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When visualizing data with Python’s Matplotlib, you might often want to annotate certain data points by displaying their coordinates directly on the plot. For instance, given a list of points, such as ((1, 2), (3, 4), (5, 6)), the desired output is a plot that not only shows these points graphically but also labels them with corresponding x and y coordinates.

Method 1: Using annotate() Function

The annotate() function in Matplotlib can be used to add text annotations to points in a plot. It offers great flexibility and several options for customization, such as text position and arrow properties.

Here’s an example:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Coordinates
points = [(1, 2), (3, 4), (5, 6)]

# Create a plot
plt.figure()
for point in points:
    plt.scatter(*point)
    plt.annotate(f'{point}', xy=point, textcoords="offset points", xytext=(0,10))
    
plt.show()

The output is a scatter plot displaying each point with its coordinates annotated just above the point.

This code snippet defines a list of point coordinates, then iterates through this list, plotting each point using scatter() and annotates it with annotate(). The coordinates are displayed above each point to prevent overlap with the marker.

Method 2: Custom Function for Annotating Points

A custom annotation function can be written to encapsulate the annotation logic, especially useful when adding similar labels to multiple plots or working with subplots.

Here’s an example:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

def annotate_points(ax, points):
    for point in points:
        ax.scatter(*point)
        ax.text(*point, f'{point}', va='bottom')

# Coordinates
points = [(1, 2), (3, 4), (5, 6)]
        
# Create a plot
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
annotate_points(ax, points)

plt.show()

The output is a scatter plot with each point annotated right below it.

In this snippet, a function annotate_points() is created that takes a Matplotlib Axes object and a list of points, plots each point and adds an annotation below it. This makes the annotation process reusable and cleaner.

Method 3: Annotating with text()

The text() function is similar to annotate() but is simpler and might be more convenient if you do not need the additional features that annotate() provides.

Here’s an example:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Coordinates
points = [(1, 2), (3, 4), (5, 6)]

# Create a plot
plt.figure()
for point in points:
    plt.scatter(*point)
    plt.text(point[0], point[1], f'{point}')

plt.show()

The output is another scatter plot with each point’s coordinates shown at the respective positions.

This code uses text() to add annotations at the exact location of the points. It’s more straightforward than annotate(), but lacks the option for adding arrows or specifying offset for the text.

Method 4: Adding Annotations to Each Point within a Scatter Plot

If you’re using scatter() for plotting, it might be useful to directly pass in the labels within the scatter function using a loop, though this can make your code a bit less readable.

Here’s an example:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Coordinates
points = [(1, 2), (3, 4), (5, 6)]

# Create a plot
plt.figure()
for point in points:
    plt.scatter(point[0], point[1], label=f'{point}')
    
plt.legend()

plt.show()

The output is a scatter plot with a legend showing all the point’s coordinates.

The legend provides an alternative way to label points with their coordinates by using scatter()‘s label parameter. However, this will put all annotations in the legend instead of next to the points, which might clutter the legend if there are many points.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: List Comprehension with annotate()

For Python enthusiasts, using a list comprehension combined with annotate() makes it possible to annotate all points in one line, making the code more concise – a boon for those who prefer Pythonic brevity.

Here’s an example:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Coordinates
points = [(1, 2), (3, 4), (5, 6)]

# Create a plot
plt.figure()
[plt.annotate(f'{point}', xy=point, textcoords="offset points", xytext=(0,10)) for point in points]

plt.show()

The output remains a scatter plot with each point annotated.

This single line calls annotate() for every point in the points list, taking advantage of list comprehension. This compact form is elegant but may sacrifice a bit of readability for those less familiar with Python’s list comprehensions.

Summary/Discussion

  • Method 1: Annotate Function. Offers comprehensive customization. May be verbose for simple use cases.
  • Method 2: Custom Function. Reusable and organized. Requires additional definition of a function.
  • Method 3: Text Function. Simplicity and ease of use. Lacks advanced features compared to annotate.
  • Method 4: Scatter with Labels. Integrates with plot legend. Not useful for direct point annotation, may clutter the legend.
  • Bonus Method 5: List Comprehension. Pythonic brevity. Can reduce readability for complex operations.