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GUIDELINES FOR PLOTTING GRAPH

(i) Use a Pencil!

(ii) Each graph must have a caption (or tittle) which should describe why you plotted
the graph.

(iii) Each axis should be labelled with the name of the variable and the units.

(iv) Decide which variable are to be plotted on the x-axis and on the y-axis.
The independent variables are plotted on the x-axis and the dependent variables
on the
y-axis. The independent variable is altered by steps which may be predetermined, and
the value of the dependent variable is determined for each value of the independent
variable.

The choice of independent variable is determined normally by the experimental


approach or by character of the data. At this point JUDGEMENT is required. A
useful tip is to ask yourself which value did change; (independent) and which value
changed as a result of the change you made (dependent).

(v) Choose appropriate scales on the axes so that the graph will not be too small on the
page, but will cover a fair portion of the page in each direction. To make sure that
you use the full or fair portion of A4 size graph paper take the highest value in your
data and subtract the smallest value, and divide the answer by the number of blocks.
Round the answer to a highest value being one of the series
{1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500,...}. E.g. If the Highest value in the data is 32.4
cm and the lowest value is 15.6 cm, and the number of bigger blocks is 13 in the
y-axis. Therefore (32.4 – 15.6)/13 = 1.29 cm, since 1.29 falls between 1 and 2 on
the series scale and the highest series between 1 and 2 in the scale is 2 cm, therefore
an appropriate scale in the y-axis is 2 cm each block.

Axes should be marked in factors of 1, 2, 5, or this times a power of ten. Other


factors such
as 3, 4, or 7 usually make these scales difficult to read between divisions. Do not label
every block along the axis. Label only every 1, 2, or 5 blocks on the graph paper.

(vi) Decide whether or not each axes should start from zero (it is not always necessary
to show the origin). Inspect your data carefully and number scale so that each
variable begins (when plotting points) near the lowest values in the data.

(vii) Use a or x for the data point, and avoid using (blob).

(viii) The line that you draw through your data should be a reasonable “best fit” so as to
model the trend of the experimental points. Your Graph should not join the points!

(ix) Don’t force the line through the origin; remember that it’s a best fit to all the points.
Example of a straight line Graph:

Exercises:

1. In an experiment the volume of a gas is measured as a function of the temperature of


the gas. The data below are obtained.
a) Plot the graph and calculate the slope using the provided graph paper.
b) From the graph read off: (i) the volume at a temperature of 50 oC.
(ii) the temperature at which the volume will be zero.
Volume (m3) Temperature (oC)
3.68 x 10-3 0
4.47 x 10-3 30
5.97 x 10-3 100
8.85 x 10-3 280
12.20 x 10 -3 490

2. Using the above results plot the graph and calculate the slope using the Excel
Programme
(See A5. B. Plotting with Excel on page 8)

3. Compare the answers of slope you got from the hand drawing graph (Experimental
value) and from Excel programme (Theory value) using the percentage error, where T
- Theory Value, E–Experiment Value:
T E
% Error   100 ,
T