Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tips on Plotting with Grace

Grace is a nice program to make journal-quality graphs. A while ago, I blogged about how to use it to make inset plots.

If you are a regular user of Grace, the following tips (which I gathered from here and here) can improve your productivity:

1. Make a template plot:

You can make default settings by opening Grace, making your adjustments, and saving the file as Default.agr in


If the .grace/templates folder doesn't exist, create it in your home directory.

I like to make my axes labels larger (usually fontsize 150) so that they are readable even when shrunk to fit a single column of a journal article. You can choose the font you like (I use Times-Bold).

In similar vein, I like my tickmarks and legends to be fontsize 125. I also like my symbols "filled".

Once you make a Default.agr, these settings are used anytime you open a blank Grace plot.

2. Default Printer:

I usually like to "print" ("export" in Grace) my graphs out in EPS format. While it would be nice to be able to do it in the Default.agr above, you cannot. However, you can create a file "~/.grace/gracerc.user" that simply contains the line


3. Font Tool:

Everytime you have to write a complex symbol in a textbox (while labeling an axis for example), you can press Ctrl + E, which opens up a Font ToolBox that lets you choose the symbol from a palette.

Short Cuts:
"\x a" produces "alpha" (\x is a proxy for \font{Symbol})
"\f{}" goes back to default font
"\2" is "\font{Times-Bold}"
"\S" is for superscript
"\s" is for subscript

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