Date tick labelsΒΆ

Matplotlib date plotting is done by converting date instances into days since an epoch (by default 1970-01-01T00:00:00). The matplotlib.dates module provides the converter functions date2num and num2date that convert datetime.datetime and numpy.datetime64 objects to and from Matplotlib's internal representation. These data types are registered with the unit conversion mechanism described in matplotlib.units, so the conversion happens automatically for the user. The registration process also sets the default tick locator and formatter for the axis to be AutoDateLocator and AutoDateFormatter.

An alternative formatter is the ConciseDateFormatter, used in the second Axes below (see Formatting date ticks using ConciseDateFormatter), which often removes the need to rotate the tick labels. The last Axes formats the dates manually, using DateFormatter to format the dates using the format strings documented at datetime.date.strftime.

DefaultFormatter, ConciseFormatter, Manual DateFormatter
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import matplotlib.dates as mdates
import matplotlib.cbook as cbook

# Load a numpy structured array from yahoo csv data with fields date, open,
# close, volume, adj_close from the mpl-data/example directory.  This array
# stores the date as an np.datetime64 with a day unit ('D') in the 'date'
# column.
data = cbook.get_sample_data('goog.npz', np_load=True)['price_data']

fig, axs = plt.subplots(3, 1, figsize=(6.4, 7), constrained_layout=True)
# common to all three:
for ax in axs:
    ax.plot('date', 'adj_close', data=data)
    # Major ticks every half year, minor ticks every month,
    ax.xaxis.set_major_locator(mdates.MonthLocator(bymonth=(1, 7)))
    ax.xaxis.set_minor_locator(mdates.MonthLocator())
    ax.grid(True)
    ax.set_ylabel(r'Price [\$]')

# different formats:
ax = axs[0]
ax.set_title('DefaultFormatter', loc='left', y=0.85, x=0.02, fontsize='medium')

ax = axs[1]
ax.set_title('ConciseFormatter', loc='left', y=0.85, x=0.02, fontsize='medium')
ax.xaxis.set_major_formatter(
    mdates.ConciseDateFormatter(ax.xaxis.get_major_locator()))

ax = axs[2]
ax.set_title('Manual DateFormatter', loc='left', y=0.85, x=0.02,
             fontsize='medium')
# Text in the x axis will be displayed in 'YYYY-mm' format.
ax.xaxis.set_major_formatter(mdates.DateFormatter('%Y-%b'))
# Rotates and right-aligns the x labels so they don't crowd each other.
for label in ax.get_xticklabels(which='major'):
    label.set(rotation=30, horizontalalignment='right')

plt.show()

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 1.658 seconds)

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