Gnuplot (Versions 5.0.0 & 4.6.6 & 4.4.3 & 4.2.0 & 4.0.0)

Running gnuplot

Gnuplot is a command-driven interactive function and data plotting utility for UNIX, MSDOS, VMS, and many other platforms. It is case sensitive (commands and function names written in lowercase are not the same as those written in CAPS). All command names may be abbreviated as long as the abbreviation is not ambiguous.

Gnuplot handles both curves (2 dimensions) and surfaces (3 dimensions). Surfaces can be plotted as a mesh fitting the specified function, floating in the 3-d coordinate space, or as a contour plot on the x-y plane. For 2-d plots, there are also many plot styles, including lines, points, lines with points, error bars, impulses and (optionally filled) boxes. Graphs may be labeled with arbitrary labels and arrows, axis labels, a title, date and time, and a key. The interface includes command-line editing and history on most platforms.

The new gnuplot user should begin by reading the general information available by typing help after running gnuplot. Then read about the plot command (type help plot). The manual for gnuplot (see below) is a nicely formatted version of the on-line help information.


Gnuplot documentation is available in three ways:

  1. interactively, within gnuplot
  2. as a printed document.
  3. as a manual page, through the Unix man(1) facility

The third form tells how to run gnuplot.

The first two forms describe the inner workings, and contain equivalent information. They derive their information from the file gnuplot.doc, which is the master copy of gnuplot help information. All other forms, except for the man page gnuplot(1), are derived from it.

Running gnuplot

To start gnuplot (Version 5.0.0) type

% gnuplot5 [<X11 options>] [<filename>]

or for (Version 4.6.6)

% gnuplot4.6 [<X11 options>] [<filename>]

at the shell prompt. (This assumes that /net/apps64/bin is in your search-path).

To start gnuplot (Version 4.4.3) type

% gnuplot4.4 [<X11 options>] [<filename>]

or for (Version 4.2.0)

% gnuplot4.2 [<X11 options>] [<filename>]

or for (Version 4.0.0)

% gnuplot4.0 [<X11 options>] [<filename>]

at the shell prompt. (This assumes that /net/appls/bin is in your search-path).

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