# how to change order of legends?

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Mr M. am 23 Sep. 2015
I dont want to change the order of my plots, but I want to change the order in the legend list. How to do?
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Afiq Azaibi am 29 Feb. 2024
Bearbeitet: Afiq Azaibi am 1 Mär. 2024
Three ways to change the order of items in the legend
I'll review two ways to flexibly set the legend's order and one way to reverse the legend order.
Flexibly set the legend order:
Let's take this simple example:
figure;
ax = gca;
hold(ax, 'on')
p1 = plot(1:10, LineWidth=5, DisplayName='p1');
p2 = plot(10:-1:1, LineWidth=5, DisplayName='p2');
p3 = plot(ones(10,1)*5, LineWidth=5, DisplayName='p3');
1) The first way is to specify the order the object handles in the legend command. If we wanted p2 on top, p3 in the middle, and p1 on the bottom, we would call this:
legend([p2, p3, p1])
2) The second way you can do this is by updating the child order of the axes. By default, the legend will order the objects in the same order of creation. This is the reverse order of the axes’ Children property since the oldest object gets placed at the bottom:
ax.Children = [p1; p3; p2];
legend;
Note: Updating the order of the Children property will impact the stacking order of the objects in the axes. While you can achieve the same resulting legend as in the first approach, it will alter the appearance in the axes.
Reverse the legend order:
3) Starting in 23b, a new Direction property was added to legend. This property inverts the order of the legend entries. By default, the value of this property is 'normal'.
hold(ax, 'off')
p = plot([1:10; 2:11; 3:12; 4:13]', LineWidth=3);
l = legend;
l.Direction = 'reverse';
Some objects like a stacked bar and area have an inherent order. The legend will set Direction to 'reverse' automatically:
bar(magic(5), 'stacked');
legend;
area(magic(5));
legend;
You can revert back to the previous behavior by specifying the legend's direction to be 'normal'
legend(Direction='normal');
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Shara Gremillion am 10 Feb. 2024
Verschoben: Adam Danz am 1 Mär. 2024
Works great! Thanks.

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### Weitere Antworten (10)

David am 10 Jan. 2018
Bearbeitet: David am 10 Jan. 2018
I think Mr. M means the following: In the figure GUI, after one has worked hard to generate a nice figure by combining the outputs of various scripts via copy + paste, how can one change the order of the legend?
In earlier versions of MATLAB, one could achieve this by cutting and repasting traces. They would then reappear at the bottom of the legend. So you would take the trace you want to be second, cut and paste it, then do the same for the third, all the way to the Nth, and then the legend would have the desired order. Now it is no longer possible to do this. The figure somehow remembers the position of the trace before it was cut.
But there is a WORK-AROUND! Simply cut the trace, paste it in onto a different axis of a different figure, then cut that trace and paste it back onto the original figure. This stymies matlab's attempt to remember the order of the trace and puts it onto the bottom of the legend.
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Walter Roberson am 19 Aug. 2019
Bearbeitet: Walter Roberson am 15 Jan. 2021
fariborz eshraghi am 5 Dez. 2021
That's a wonderful help, thanks.

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Steven Lord am 22 Feb. 2021
You can specify the handles in a particular order when you create the legend.
% Sample data
x = 0:360;
y1 = sind(x);
y2 = cosd(x);
y3 = tand(x);
% Set up axes
axis([0 360 -1 1])
hold on
% Create plots
h = gobjects(3, 1);
h(1) = plot(x, y1, 'DisplayName', 'sine');
h(2) = plot(x, y2, 'DisplayName', 'cosine');
h(3) = plot(x, y3, 'DisplayName', 'tangent');
% Create legend -- cosine first then sine and finally tangent
legend(h([2 1 3]))
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Rick am 24 Mär. 2018
use this code to swap the order of two plots:
plots=get(gca, 'Children');
legend(plots(2, 1), {'Second line', 'First line'});
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Walter Roberson am 28 Sep. 2023
It is not clear what plots is in your code? You are using it as if it is a function or a multidimensional array.
Smart am 29 Sep. 2023
Bearbeitet: Smart am 29 Sep. 2023
@Walter Roberson Thanks for the catch. I've updated my comment with a line to define plots as it was used above (and fixed the same typo that Rick had)

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Ed Rawi am 22 Okt. 2018
Bearbeitet: Ed Rawi am 23 Okt. 2018
a = linspace(1,10,10);
b1 = sin(a);
Plot1 = plot(a,b1);
hold on
b2 = cos(a);
Plot2 = plot(a,b2);
hold off
legend([plot2 plot1],{Second,First})
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Jim Bosley am 19 Aug. 2019
Last line needs plot handles capitalized, as they were defined.
a = linspace(1,10,10);
b1 = sin(a);
Plot1 = plot(a,b1);
hold on
b2 = cos(a);
Plot2 = plot(a,b2);
hold off
legend([Plot2 Plot1],{Second,First})
MCH am 16 Dez. 2020
@Ed: This solution works great

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Liwei Wang am 25 Jan. 2019
Cut+paste is a good idea. But sometimes it won't work because the plots are pretty close to each other. An alternative approach is to change the order of the plots by code:
Here is the copy of the code:
figure
scatter(rand(150,1),rand(150,1))
hold on
fill([0.2 0.5 0.5 0.2],[0.2 0.2 0.5 0.5],'r')
hg = line([0 0.6],[0.6 0]);
set(hg,'LineWidth',12,'Color','g')
h = get(gca,'Children');
set(gca,'Children',[h(3) h(2) h(1)])
Refresh legend then you will see the change.
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Giorgia Calisti am 9 Jun. 2020
Exactly what I was looking for!
Thank you

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Kris Govertsen am 15 Jan. 2021
This is how I was able to change the order of the legend on a figure with multiple subplots of area plots:
Before:
I want the order of the legend to follow the order of the colors in the area plot
% a is my figure
% If I type
If I type the following into the command window: a.Children... it returns:
% a.Children
%
% ans =
%
% 5×1 graphics array:
%
% Legend (Grid, VRFB error, VRFB Power, VRFB Energy, LIB error, LIB Power, LIB Energy, Solar, Tidal)
% Axes (Tidal RES)
% Axes (Solar PV RES)
% Axes (VRFB Cost)
% Axes (LIB Cost)
So a.Children(1) is my legend!
% Re-order Legend
lbl = a.Children(1).String; % Retrieve legend labels
numlbl = length(lbl); % Determine number of lables
order = sort(1:1:numlbl,'descend'); % Create array of label numbers in descending order
newlbl = lbl(order); % Create new labels in descending order
legend(findobj(a.Children(2),'Type','area'),newlbl) % Set the legend to follow the new labels
hope this helps!
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Jan Heinsoth am 22 Feb. 2021
Nice, someone wanted to do the same as me. Thanks
LIU am 22 Mär. 2022
Hi, I have a silimar problem, and guess your method could be useful for me. But I don't know how to apply your code suited to my case. Would you please kindly have a look at my problem and give me a hand? Thank you very much.

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FM am 22 Mai 2018
There is a good solution in the `Update` section of this post on Stack Overflow: http://stackoverflow.com/a/39104494/3230708
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George am 23 Sep. 2015
Is this something you are after, the question is not clear
x=magic(2);
plot(x(:,1));
hold
plot(x(:,2),'r');
legend('Data1','Data2');
%blue = Data1
%red=Data2
to change that simple reverse the string order
legend('Data2','Data1');
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Kris Govertsen am 15 Jan. 2021
This is how I was able to change the order of the legend on a figure with multiple subplots of area plots:
Before:
I want the order of the legend to follow the order of the colors in the area plot
% a is my figure
% If I type
If I type the following into the command window: a.Children... it returns:
% a.Children
%
% ans =
%
% 5×1 graphics array:
%
% Legend (Grid, VRFB error, VRFB Power, VRFB Energy, LIB error, LIB Power, LIB Energy, Solar, Tidal)
% Axes (Tidal RES)
% Axes (Solar PV RES)
% Axes (VRFB Cost)
% Axes (LIB Cost)
So a.Children(1) is my legend!
% Re-order Legend
lbl = a.Children(1).String; % Retrieve legend labels
numlbl = length(lbl); % Determine number of lables
order = sort(1:1:numlbl,'descend'); % Create array of label numbers in descending order
newlbl = lbl(order); % Create new labels in descending order
legend(findobj(a.Children(2),'Type','area'),newlbl) % Set the legend to follow the new labels
hope this helps!
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Sandeep A S V am 7 Jan. 2022
Bearbeitet: Sandeep A S V am 7 Jan. 2022
There is a simple solution using the property inspector GUI.
1.Go to Edit menu on the figure window
2. Select 'current object properties'
3. Select one of the plots in your figure
4. Change the property 'SeriesIndex' in COLOR AND STYLING tab.
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Muhammad Tauha Ali am 7 Apr. 2024
In 2022b, order can be interactively changed by moving the object order through mouse and updating the series index. The legend will need to be regenerated after the changes though.

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