{smcl}
{* 23oct2017}{...}
{hline}
help for {hi:niceloglabels}
{hline}
{title:Nice axis labels for logarithmic scales}
{p 8 17 2}
{cmd:niceloglabels}
{it:varname}
{ifin}
{cmd:,}
{cmdab:l:ocal(}{it:macname}{cmd:)}
{cmdab:s:tyle(}{it:style}{cmd:)}
[
{cmdab:p:owers}
]
{p 8 17 2}
{cmd:niceloglabels}
{it:#}1 {it:#}2
{cmd:,}
{cmdab:l:ocal(}{it:macname}{cmd:)}
{cmdab:s:tyle(}{it:style}{cmd:)}
[
{cmdab:p:owers}
]
{title:Description}
{p 4 4 2}
{cmd:niceloglabels} suggests axis labels that would look nice on a graph
using a logarithmic scale. It can help when you choose {cmd:yscale(log)}
and/or {cmd:xscale(log)} and wish to show nicer labels than the default.
Results are put in a local macro for later use.
{title:Remarks}
{p 4 4 2}
There are two syntaxes. In the first, the name of a numeric variable
must be given. The values selected must all be positive. In the second,
two numeric values are given, which will be interpreted as indicating
minimum and maximum of an axis range. Those two values can be given in
any order, but as before values must both be positive.
{p 4 4 2}
"Nice" is a little hard to define but easier to recognise. For example,
it is a bonus if labels are exactly or approximately equally spaced on
a logarithmic scale (or conversely, on the original scale) and it is a
bonus if numbers are powers of 10 or 2 multiplied by small integers. Users
must specify their preferred {it:style}, one from the following list:
1 means powers of 10 such as ..., 0.1, 1, 10, 100, 1000, ...
13 means cycling such as ..., 0.3, 1, 3, 10, 30, 100, 300, ...
15 means cycling such as ..., 0.5, 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, ...
125 means cycling such as ..., 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, ...
147 means cycling such as ..., 0.1, 0.4, 0.7, 1, 4, 7, 10, ...
2 means powers of 2 such as ..., 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, ...
{p 4 4 2}
When the relative range of values max/min is an order of magnitude
(power of 10) or less, none of these styles will suggest more than a
few labels. In that case, you are almost certainly better off with labels
equally spaced on the original scale, which is what Stata gives you
anyway.
{p 4 4 2}
To make this concrete, here are the numbers of labels suggested when the
minimum is 10 = 1e1 = 10^1 and the power of the maximum is as tabulated
in rows. Thus the first row is for min = 10 and max = 100 = 1e2 = 10^2,
for which the labels suggested, for styles 2 147 125 15 13 1, are
respectively 16 32 64; 10 40 70 100; 10 20 50 100; 10 50 100; 10 30 100;
10 100; hence the numbers of labels are 3 4 4 3 3 2.
style
{c |} 2 147 125 15 13 1
{hline 2}{c +}{hline 26}
2 {c |} 3 4 4 3 3 2
3 {c |} 7 7 7 5 5 3
power 4 {c |} 10 10 10 7 7 4
of 5 {c |} 13 13 13 9 9 5
max 6 {c |} 17 16 16 11 11 6
7 {c |} 20 19 19 13 13 7
8 {c |} 23 22 22 15 15 8
9 {c |} 27 25 25 17 17 9
{p 4 4 2}
Powers of 2 make most sense in practice when the amounts to be shown
are small positive integers and/or the problem has some combinatorial flavour.
{p 4 4 2}
{cmd:niceloglabels} is conservative in that it typically will not suggest
labels outside the data range. You could add such on the fly in your
calls to later graphics commands. Technical hint: The small print behind
"typically" is a fudging of minimum and maximum as a work-around for
precision problems.
{p 4 4 2}
For an example of 147, see Dupont (2009, p.270).
{p 4 4 2}
Note the suggestion by Cleveland (1985, p.39; 1994, p.39) of 3-10 labels
on any axis.
{title:Options}
{p 4 8 2}
{cmd:local(}{it:macname}{cmd:)} inserts the specification of labels in
local macro {it:macname} within the calling program's space. Hence that
macro will be accessible after {cmd:niceloglabels} has finished. This is
helpful for later use with {help graph} or other graphics commands.
This is a required option.
{p 8 8 2}
Anyone new to the idea and use of local macros should study the examples
carefully. {cmd:niceloglabels} creates a local macro, which is a kind of
bag holding the text to be inserted in a graph command. The local macro
is referred to in that graph command using the punctuation {cmd:` '}
around the macro name. Note that the opening (left) single-quote and the
closing (right) single-quote are different. Other single quotation marks
will not work. Do not be troubled by the closing single-quote {cmd:'}
appearing as upright in many fonts.
{p 4 8 2}
{cmd:style(}{it:style}{cmd:)} specifies a style for axis labels.
This is a required option. See {cmd:Remarks} above.
{p 4 8 2}
{cmd:powers} specifies that labels be specified using syntax interpreted
by {help graph} as superscripts and ready to be used within a
{cmd:ylabel()} or {cmd:xlabel()} option call. Thus if the labels were
100 1000 10000, the output would be
{cmd:100 "10{c -(}sup:2{c )-}" 1000 "10{c -(}sup:3{c )-}" 10000 "10{c -(}sup:4{c )-}"}.
{title:Examples}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. sysuse census, clear}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. summarize}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. set scheme s1color}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. niceloglabels pop , local(yla) style(125)}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. quantile pop, ysc(log) yla(`yla', ang(h)) rlopts(lc(none))}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. niceloglabels pop , local(yla) style(125) powers}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. quantile pop, ysc(log) yla(`yla', ang(h)) rlopts(lc(none))}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:* log scale does not rule out change of units too}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. gen pop2 = pop/1e6}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. label var pop2 "Population (m)"}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. niceloglabels pop2, local(yla) style(125)}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. quantile pop2, ysc(log) yla(`yla', ang(h)) rlopts(lc(none))}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. niceloglabels 2e2 2e4, local(yla) style(125)}{p_end}
{p 4 8 2}{cmd:. niceloglabels 1e1 1e9, local(yla) style(1) powers}{p_end}
{title:Author}
{p 4 4 2}Nicholas J. Cox, Durham University{break}
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk
{title:Acknowledgments}
{p 4 4 2}
Thanks to
Chuck Huber,
Ariel Linden,
Tim Morris,
Patrick Royston
and Vince Wiggins
for helpful discussion and encouragement.
{p 4 4 2}
Thanks to William Dupont for telling me about 147.
{title:References}
{p 4 8 2}
Cleveland, W. S. 1985.
{it:The Elements of Graphing Data.}
Monterey, CA: Wadsworth.
{p 4 8 2}
Cleveland, W. S. 1994.
{it:The Elements of Graphing Data.}
Summit, NJ: Hobart Press.
{p 4 8 2}
Dupont, W. D. 2009.
{it:Statistical Modelling for Biomedical Researchers.}
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
{title:Also see}
{p 4 13 2}
Online: help for {help axis_label_options}
{p_end}