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Adam Danz
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New in MATLAB R2021a: Auto rotation of axis tick labels

Adam Danz on 24 May 2021 (Edited on 24 May 2021)
Latest activity Reply by Community Sherlock- on 7 Oct 2021

Starting in MATLAB R2021a axis tick labels will auto-rotate to avoid overlap when the user manually specifies ticks or tick labels ( release notes ). In custom visualization functions, the tick label density or tick label lengths may be variable and unknown. The new auto-rotation feature removes the burden of detecting the need to rotate manually-set labels and eliminates the need to manually rotate them.

Many properties and combinations of properties can cause tick labels to overlap if they are not rotated.

  • Length of tick labels
  • Number of tick labels
  • Interval between tick labels
  • Font size
  • Font name
  • Figure size
  • Axes size
  • Viewing angle of the axes

Demo: varying tick density and length of tick labels

These 9 axes vary by the number of x-ticks and length of x-tick-labels. MATLAB auto-rotates the labels when needed.

Demo: Changes to axis view angle and rotation

The auto-rotation feature updates the label angles as the axes change programmatically or during user interaction.

What if I don't want auto-rotation?

Auto-rotation mode is on by default for each X|Y|Z axis. When the tick label rotation angle is manually set from the X|Y|ZTickLabelRotation property of axes or by using xtickangle | ytickangle | ztickangle , auto-rotation is turned off. Auto-rotation can also be turned off by setting the X|Y|ZTickLabelRotationMode axis property to manual but it's important to also hold the axis properties so that the rotation mode does not revert to the default value, auto. If you're looking for a broader method of reverting to older behavior you can set the default label rotation mode to manual at the start of a function that produces multiple plots and then revert to the factory default rotation mode at the end of the file (consider using onCleanup).

% Revert to factory-default

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Community Sherlock-
Community Sherlock- on 7 Oct 2021

Nice quality of life feature.

goc3 on 24 May 2021

This is a helpful improvement!

And, thank you Adam for posting about so many of these.

Rik on 24 May 2021

Nice quality of life feature.


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