ETME360: Specifications for Computer Generated Graphs

1.      Plot the independent variable (the one controlled by the experimenter) as the horizontal axis (abscissa.)

2.      One or more related dependent variables may be plotted on the vertical axis. Generally, all plotted dependent variables should share the same vertical scale. If different vertical scales apply to multiple data sets, clearly identify the association of scale with data. 

3.      The horizontal axis (independent variable) - is always common. For example, a plot of position, velocity and acceleration with time as the shared or common horizontal axis.

4.      When more than one curve appears on the same graph, different symbols are used to indicate the experimental points on each curve. In such a case, use a legend that clearly identifies each data set by symbol and name. Legends are not necessary if only one dependent variable is plotted.

5.      Match the range of variables to the axis scale range: Maximize the area of the page that is occupied by the data.

6.      Include the Zero Point for both the dependent and independent variable. If the data is all far from zero so that it is impossible to show the entire axis, use an axis break between zero and the selected range of the axis.

7.      Include a plot of the appropriate curve of best fit for each data set, with fitting equation and correlation coefficient. Do not connect raw data points with curved lines.

8.      If the abscissa (x-axis) is placed along the long dimension of the paper, insert graph into the report so that it reads from the right. (Rotate report 90 clockwise to read graph.) 

9.      Axis scales should be labeled by name, and the units of the variable indicated.

10. Do not write in the margin. Standard margins required for most publications are 1" all around and 1.25" on left side. The axis and labels may appear within the printed grid to avoid violating the margin requirements.

11. Avoid abbreviations in the scale labels. Use conventional units abbreviations.

12. If powers of ten (i.e. 106) are used they should be placed in the scale number, NOT in the legend.

13. Each graph must have a descriptive title. The date and name of the experimenter should appear in the lower part of the title box. Avoid simple restatement of the axis labels for a title.

14. All graphs are given a figure number when included in reports. The figure number should be placed ahead of the title along the lower border of the graph.

15. Color does not reproduce well and should not be used for graphs that may be printed or copied in black and white.

16. Don't write on computer- generated graphs. Computer graphing codes should contain all necessary tools to create different scales, divisions, lettering, equation labels, titles, arrowheads, etc.

17. Do your own work. Plagiarism is theft; it is unethical and often illegal, and has no place in the engineering curriculum or profession. Further, it is grounds for Academic Suspension from MSU.