gnuplot4 Man page

GNUPLOT(1) General Commands Manual GNUPLOT(1)


gnuplot – an interactive plotting program


gnuplot [X11 options] [options] [file …]


Gnuplot is a command-driven interactive plotting program.

If file names are given on the command line, gnuplot loads each file
with the load command, in the order specified, and exits after the last
file is processed. If no files are given, gnuplot prompts for interac‐
tive commands.

Here are some of its features:

Plots any number of functions, built up of C operators, C math library
functions, and some things C doesn’t have like **, sgn(), etc.

User-defined constants and functions.

All computations performed in the complex domain. Just the real part
is plotted by default, but functions like imag() and abs() and arg()
are available to override this.

Many presentation styles for plotting user data from files, including
surface-fitting, error bars, boxplots, histograms, heat maps, and sim‐
ple manipulation of image data. There is an on-line demo collection at

Nonlinear least-squares fitting.

2D and 3D plots with mouse-controlled zoom and rotation.

Shell escapes and command line substitution.

Load and save capability.

Support for a huge variety of output devices and file formats.


-p, –persist lets plot windows survive after main gnuplot program

-d, –default settings. Do not read from gnuplotrc or ~/.gnuplot on

-e “command list” executes the requested commands before loading the
next input file.

-h, –help print summary of usage

-V show current version



Gnuplot provides the x11 terminal type for use with X servers. This
terminal type is set automatically at startup if the GNUTERM environ‐
ment variable is set to x11, or if the -display command line option is
used. For terminal type x11, gnuplot accepts the standard X Toolkit
options and resources such as geometry, font, and background. See the
X man page for a description of common options. For additional X
options specific to gnuplot, type help x11 on the gnuplot command line.

A number of shell environment variables are understood by gnuplot.
None of these are required.

The name of the terminal type to be used by default. This can
be overridden by the gnuplotrc or .gnuplot start-up files and,
of course, by later explicit “set terminal” commands.

The pathname of the HELP file (gnuplot.gih).

HOME The name of a directory to search for a .gnuplot file.

PAGER An output filter for help messages.

SHELL The program used for the “shell” command.

Specifies a gnuplot command to be executed when a fit is inter‐
rupted—see “help fit”.

The name of the logfile maintained by fit.

Additional search directories for data and command files. The
variable may contain a single directory name, or a list of
directories separated by ‘:’. The contents of GNUPLOT_LIB are
appended to the “loadpath” variable, but not saved with the
“save” and “save set” commands.

Several gnuplot terminal drivers access TrueType fonts via the
gd library. This variable gives the font search path for these

The default font for the terminal drivers that access TrueType
fonts via the gd library.

The font search path used by the postscript terminal. The format
is the same as for GNUPLOT_LIB. The contents of GNUPLOT_FONTPATH
are appended to the “fontpath” variable, but not saved with the
“save” and “save set” commands.

Used by the postscript driver to locate external prologue files.
Depending on the build process, gnuplot contains either a
builtin copy of those files or simply a default hardcoded path.
Use this variable to test the postscript terminal with custom
prologue files. See “help postscript prologue”.

When gnuplot is run, it first looks for a system-wide initial‐
ization file named gnuplotrc. The standard location of this
file expected by the program is reported by the “show loadpath”

After loading the system-wide initialization file, if any, Gnu‐
plot looks for a private initialization file in the HOME direc‐
tory. It may contain any legal gnuplot commands, but typically
they are limited to setting the preferred terminal and line
types and defining frequently-used functions or variables.

The default name of the logfile output by the “fit” command.

Original authors: Thomas Williams and Colin Kelley. Starting with gnu‐
plot version 3.8, the project source is cooperatively maintained on
SourceForge by a large number of contributors.


Please report bugs using the project bug tracker on SourceForge.


See the printed manual or the on-line help for details on specific com‐
mands. Project web site at

4th Berkeley Distribution 2 October 2013 GNUPLOT(1)