Create A Graph Tutorial

Examining X-Y (Scatter) Plots

X-Y plots, or scatter plots, can be used to see if one event affects another event. For example, if you spend more hours studying, will you get better grades? The following pages describe the different parts of an x-y plot.

Annual Expenditures on Public and Private Institutions per Student and as a Percentage of Country's GDP: 2000

The Title

The title offers a short explanation of what is in your graph. This helps the reader identify what they are about to look at. It can be creative or simple as long as it tells what is in the graph. The title of this graph tells the reader that the graph contains information about the difference in money spent on students of elementary and secondary schools from different countries.

The Legend

The legend tells what each point represents. Just like on a map, the legend helps the reader understand what they are looking at. Each of the colors in this legend represents a different country.

The Source

The source explains where you found the information that is in your graph. It is important to give credit to those who collected your data! In this graph, the source tells us that we found our information from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


In x-y plots, the y-axis runs vertically (up and down). Typically, the y-axis has numbers for the amount of stuff being measured. The y-axis usually starts counting at 0 and can be divided into as many equal parts as you want to. In this line graph, the y-axis is measuring the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of each country.

The Data

The most important part of your graph is the information, or data, it contains. Line graphs can present more than one group of data at a time. In this graph, two sets of data are presented.


In x-y plots, like the one above, the x-axis runs horizontally (flat). Typically, the x-axis has numbers representing different time periods or names of things being measured. In this plot, the x-axis measures the amount of money spent by a country on elementary and secondary education per child.

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