MATLAB Answers


2014b axis label errors when printing to postscript

Asked by Nick Powell on 22 Oct 2014
Latest activity Commented on by Victoria Walker on 22 Jun 2018
I am getting spaces in the axis label when I use a subscript. This behavior is new with 2014b, the same function for sure doesn't do this is 2013a. I was having troubles using greek letters as well, but found a work around. The issue with the Greek letters went away when setting the axis label font weight to normal, setting it to bold caused the issue (directly or indirectly, not sure). Any thoughts on why the print command is behaving differently? Currently using painters rederer, which is needed for impage quality and file size. I am also using MATLAB on Linux.


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  1. Plot anything
  2. Create long axis label or title with a symbol i.e title('This is 10 degrees 10\circ').
  3. Convert the figure to a pdf on Linux (not sure about windows).
  4. print('-dpsc2','temp','-loose')
  5. system('ps2pdf temp.pdf').
With the symbol towards the end of the title, the print command adds spaces b/t the symbol and the previous character.
I just realized that the original post is a little misleading. The additional spaces and/or issue with recogizing symbols is not evident in the figure itself, only when a figure is printed as a postscript. This is not an issue in 2013a, using the same code.
I have noticed the same thing (R2014b on ubuntu 12.04)--
plot(1:10,1:10,'bo');xlabel('\sigma \theta \rho','FontWeight','Bold')
will give correct output on the screen. However, print -depsc, print -dpdf, etc... will produce output with an x axis label of "< 3 ;" If you repeat this command, but leave out the Bold, it will print correctly. This was not an issue for R2014a. Also R2014b seems to have a bounding-box problem in its output as the plot is squeezed to the bottom of the page,sometime with portions cut off.

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3 Answers

Answer by Doug Hull on 19 Nov 2014
Edited by Doug Hull on 19 Nov 2014

This is under investigation by our developers.
We have found there is a gap, the size of which is dependent on the length of the first string, between strings in postscript and pdf output when painters is used. The problem does not occur when using opengl or printing to an image format or to a printer.
Invoke opengl when printing with -opengl flag.


I contacted support to ask about progress on this bug. I was told that they are still working on it and the temporary workaround is to use the LaTeX interpreter instead of the tex interpreter. This can be done by: set(0,'defaultTextInterpreter','latex'); and placed in your startup.m file to make it permanent. Don't forget that when using the LaTeX interpreter you have to place $$ around your tex (e.g., $\gamma$ rather than \gamma).
Just wondering if there is any fix for this yet - it's driving me mad!
I can confirm that the issue still exists in R2018b. The bug report ( was marked solved in R2017b w/ the unacceptable workaround of using the OpenGL renderer.

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Answer by James Thunes on 6 Jan 2015

The problem appears to be due to the way that bold characters are handled. A quick example using R2014b:
plot(0:0.01:2*pi,sin(0:0.01:2*pi)); xlabel('\eta'); print('-dpdf','test')
The above code creates the correct pdf using the default export settings. When the font is changed to bold however, the "eta" is printed as "2"
Changing to a raster image format (eg png) does export the text correctly, but I agree with Aaron. Raster graphics are not good enough for publication.


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Answer by Yair Altman on 25 Feb 2015

I've just committed a fix in export_fig for this Matlab bug - any Tex/LaTeX strings will now appear unbolded in the output, but at least they will be displayed correctly. So anyone who finds this bug annoying can either unbolden their labels, or use export_fig instead of print().


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