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Alternative to Excel for charts - what software do you use to draw data plots, charts, graphs (Oct/02/2010 )

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Hi all,

I am about to start writing the Results section of my PhD and I have like a hundred data plots that I would need to insert.
My data is in MS Excel (2007), but I feel the default charts in Excel are as someone said "what were they smoking when they made them??" ugly. So I either learn to batch format my plots in Excel (any ideas?) or find an application that has a bit more versatility. So my question is what do you use in these circumstances?
I use Windows XP or Ubuntu, so anything compatible with either would be perfect.

Thanks for the suggestions.


i haven't used it, but, how about sigmaplot?


Sigmaplot is a good program. Origin even better, though both are not free...
If you use Excel graphs, I won't use default ones, but change them in a way that they look at least almost professional.


We use Graphpad (Prism) but our University has a licence. It is easy in that you can paste in the data from excel directly into it and then just make your graphs. It will also run statistical tests on your data for you.
You can format the graphs in Excel to make them look more professional if you can't find another software package.


Thanks for the replies guys. As far as licences are concerned we have to have everything by the book (no single licence for multiple users thing that is pretty common in other labs), therefore I would like something that we either already have e.g. Excel or something that is open source. I have since posting my message been doing a lot of tinkering with Excel graphs and with the help of a few macros I think I can maybe even make it work.


Gnuplot or R. Both of them take some time to learn, but the time and effort is well worthy.


My vote goes to 'Qtplot', you will find in Ubuntu Software Centre. You can copy-paste data from OpenCal also.


graphpad is quiet good. One can do lots of complex stuff with this.


Personally I prefer GraphPad PRISM. But, if you just need histograms or scatter plots, with some hard formatting you can get decent graphs in Excel also. The trick is, once you have your best graph, to duplicate the sheet and the pasting new data. Have you tried Google docs? Graphs are quite similar to excel but with a nicer formatting.


In the end I decided to record a couple of macros for Excel that helped me achieve the same formatting for all my graphs. I had a look at Gnuplot and R but had no time to learn to use the software.

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