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Plot directive documentation

A directive for including a matplotlib plot in a Sphinx document.

By default, in HTML output, plot will include a .png file with a link to a high-res .png and .pdf. In LaTeX output, it will include a .pdf.

The source code for the plot may be included in one of three ways:

  1. A path to a source file as the argument to the directive:

    .. plot:: path/to/

    When a path to a source file is given, the content of the directive may optionally contain a caption for the plot:

    .. plot:: path/to/
       This is the caption for the plot

    Additionally, one may specify the name of a function to call (with no arguments) immediately after importing the module:

    .. plot:: path/to/ plot_function1
  2. Included as inline content to the directive:

    .. plot::
       import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
       import matplotlib.image as mpimg
       import numpy as np
       img = mpimg.imread('_static/stinkbug.png')
       imgplot = plt.imshow(img)
  3. Using doctest syntax:

    .. plot::
       A plotting example:
       >>> import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
       >>> plt.plot([1,2,3], [4,5,6])


The plot directive supports the following options:

format : {'python', 'doctest'}
Specify the format of the input
include-source : bool
Whether to display the source code. The default can be changed using the plot_include_source variable in
encoding : str
If this source file is in a non-UTF8 or non-ASCII encoding, the encoding must be specified using the :encoding: option. The encoding will not be inferred using the -*- coding -*- metacomment.
context : bool or str
If provided, the code will be run in the context of all previous plot directives for which the :context: option was specified. This only applies to inline code plot directives, not those run from files. If the :context: reset option is specified, the context is reset for this and future plots, and previous figures are closed prior to running the code. :context:close-figs keeps the context but closes previous figures before running the code.
nofigs : bool
If specified, the code block will be run, but no figures will be inserted. This is usually useful with the :context: option.

Additionally, this directive supports all of the options of the image directive, except for target (since plot will add its own target). These include alt, height, width, scale, align and class.

Configuration options

The plot directive has the following configuration options:

Default value for the include-source option
Whether to show a link to the source in HTML.

Code that should be executed before each plot. If not specified or None it will default to a string containing:

import numpy as np
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt
Base directory, to which plot:: file names are relative to. (If None or empty, file names are relative to the directory where the file containing the directive is.)

File formats to generate. List of tuples or strings:

[(suffix, dpi), suffix, ...]

that determine the file format and the DPI. For entries whose DPI was omitted, sensible defaults are chosen. When passing from the command line through sphinx_build the list should be passed as suffix:dpi,suffix:dpi, ....

Whether to show links to the files in HTML.
A dictionary containing any non-standard rcParams that should be applied before each plot.
By default, rcParams are applied when context option is not used in a plot directive. This configuration option overrides this behavior and applies rcParams before each plot.
By default, the working directory will be changed to the directory of the example, so the code can get at its data files, if any. Also its path will be added to sys.path so it can import any helper modules sitting beside it. This configuration option can be used to specify a central directory (also added to sys.path) where data files and helper modules for all code are located.
Provide a customized template for preparing restructured text.
class matplotlib.sphinxext.plot_directive.PlotDirective(name, arguments, options, content, lineno, content_offset, block_text, state, state_machine)[source]

Implementation of the .. plot:: directive.

See the module docstring for details.


Run the plot directive.

exception matplotlib.sphinxext.plot_directive.PlotError[source]
matplotlib.sphinxext.plot_directive.mark_plot_labels(app, document)[source]

To make plots referenceable, we need to move the reference from the "htmlonly" (or "latexonly") node to the actual figure node itself.

matplotlib.sphinxext.plot_directive.out_of_date(original, derived)[source]

Return whether derived is out-of-date relative to original, both of which are full file paths.

matplotlib.sphinxext.plot_directive.plot_directive(name, arguments, options, content, lineno, content_offset, block_text, state, state_machine)[source]

[Deprecated] Implementation of the .. plot:: directive.

See the module docstring for details.


Deprecated since version 3.1.


Remove the coding comment, which six.exec_ doesn't like.

matplotlib.sphinxext.plot_directive.render_figures(code, code_path, output_dir, output_base, context, function_name, config, context_reset=False, close_figs=False)[source]

Run a pyplot script and save the images in output_dir.

Save the images under output_dir with file names derived from output_base

matplotlib.sphinxext.plot_directive.run_code(code, code_path, ns=None, function_name=None)[source]

Import a Python module from a path, and run the function given by name, if function_name is not None.


Split code at


Extract code from a piece of text, which contains either Python code or doctests.