How to draw an arrow using non normalized coordinates?

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Mr M. on 26 Jun 2017
Commented: Bruce Jackson on 27 Oct 2022
I use: annotation('arrow',X,Y), and I tried to change units, but it is always normalized. How to use data units?
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Mr M. on 28 Jun 2017
yes, but I cannot figure out how to use non-normalized units with annotation('arrow')

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Answers (9)

KarlHoff on 26 Jun 2020
Edited: KarlHoff on 7 Aug 2020
For me, using MATLAB R2018b,
the following works to produce an arrow at a location specified in data coordinates:
anArrow = annotation('arrow') ;
anArrow.Parent = gca; % or any other existing axes or figure
%EDIT thanks to @Moshe:
%anArrow.Position = [x_start, y_start, x_end, y_end] ;
anArrow.Position = [x_start, y_start, delta_x, delta_y] ;
The big advantage is that the arrow remains where it is with respect to other plot elements, even if the limits of the plot change afterwards.
This is not the case with all the approaches that convert data coordinates into other Units (Pixels, Inches, Normalized)
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German Elias Oggier on 13 May 2021
Thanks!

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Walter Roberson on 27 Jun 2017
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Adam Danz on 11 Nov 2019
Check out release notes for any updates on any release.

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marcus yoder on 23 Aug 2018
Edited: marcus yoder on 23 Aug 2018
I tested the code by Walter Robinson and had to make a few changes to get it to work.
function obj = dataArrow(Xdata,Ydata,ax)
%This function will draw an arrow on the plot for the specified data.
%The inputs are
oldunits = get(ax, 'Units');
set(ax, 'Units', 'Normalized');
axpos = ax.CurrentAxes.Position;
set(ax, 'Units', oldunits);
%get axes drawing area in data units
ax_xlim = ax.CurrentAxes.XLim;
ax_ylim = ax.CurrentAxes.YLim;
ax_per_xdata = axpos(3) ./ diff(ax_xlim);
ax_per_ydata = axpos(4) ./ diff(ax_ylim);
%these are figure-relative
Xpixels = (Xdata - ax_xlim(1)) .* ax_per_xdata + axpos(1);
Ypixels = (Ydata - ax_ylim(1)) .* ax_per_ydata + axpos(2);
obj = annotation('arrow', Xpixels, Ypixels, 'Units', 'pixels');
end
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Conrado Neto on 14 Apr 2019
None of this work, actually

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Robert on 7 Sep 2019
I wanted to do something similar, here's an example that adds a double arrow between the x-values 1 and 5 with y-values 5 in a simple plot:
pos=[.1,.1,.85,.85];
figure;ax=axes('position',pos);plot(1:10)
x=[1,5];y=[5,5];
rx=xlim(ax);ry=ylim(ax);
cx=pos(3)/diff(rx);cy=pos(4)/diff(ry)
annotation('doublearrow',pos(1)+cx*(x-rx(1)),pos(2)+cy*(y-ry(1)))
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MichailM on 4 Apr 2020
Maybe a function like the below could help. The x and y inputs are actual coordinates on the plot. Here I just need to draw an arrow but you can modify it
function myarrow(x,y)
ax = gca;
axpos = get(ax, 'Position');
X = get(gca,'XLim');
Y = get(gca,'YLim');
difX = X(2) - X(1);
difY = Y(2) - Y(1);
newx = x./difX;
newy = y./difY;
annotation('arrow',[newx(1)*axpos(3)+axpos(1) newx(2)*axpos(3)+axpos(1)],[newy(1)*axpos(4)+axpos(2) newy(2)*axpos(4)+axpos(2)])
end
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Marc Compere on 14 Aug 2021
Scaling to achieve arrow annotations in axes units should be built into Matlab. The utility coord2norm() handles this easily.
This is a similar question with more discussions, but the short answer is: use coord2norm()
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Adam Danz on 15 Aug 2021
Thanks for pointing out that function, Marc, I'm sure it will be helpful in many cases.
Since it's a static, once-and-done, conversion, the annotation object may no longer be in the correct position if there are any changes to the figure size, axis size or position, axis limits, or aspect ratios. Calling the function after all plotting is complete would help to solve some of those issues. A more robust solution would be to assign listeners that update annotation objects when a resize or reposition event occurs but really what we need is for MathWorks to update the annotation function to support data units or offer users an alternative.

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MICHAEL MUTWIRI on 21 Aug 2021
Create the 'annotation' object for each subplot and edit their properties using dot notation.
For the X and Y properties you use similar values as your graph cordinates. The x-end and y_end are the tip of the arrow.
Below is a tested sample code
%Create sample data
x = linspace(0,2*pi,1e3);
y = sin(x); % Plotted of first subplot
z = cos(x); % Plotted of second subplot
fg1=figure(1);
% Specify different textarrows for different subplots
%%%**************** SUBPLOT 1 ********************
subplot(2,1,1);
plot(x,y,'k')
xlabel('x')
ylabel('Amplitude')
title('Sin(x)')
ylim([-1.1 1.1])
% Define X-Beginning and ending x-coordinates
x_start =pi-1;x_end = pi;
%Y- Beginning and ending y-coordinates
y_start =sin(x_end);y_end = sin(x_end);
anArrow = annotation('textarrow');
anArrow.Parent = gca;
anArrow.X = [x_start,x_end]; % set the x-property
anArrow.Y = [y_start ,y_end];
anArrow.String = 'sin(\pi)';
anArrow.Color = 'red';
%%%**************** SUBPLOT 2 ********************
subplot(2,1,2);
plot(x,z,'k')
xlabel('x')
ylabel('Amplitude ')
ylim([-1.1 1.1])
% Define X-Beginning and ending x-coordinates
x_start =1.5*pi-1;x_end = 1.5*pi;
%Y- Beginning and ending y-coordinates
y_start =cos(x_end);y_end = cos(x_end);
anArrow = annotation('textarrow');
anArrow.Parent = gca;
anArrow.X = [x_start,x_end]; % set the x-property
anArrow.Y = [y_start ,y_end];
anArrow.String = 'cos(3\pi/2)';
anArrow.Color = 'green';
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Vitaly Fedoseev on 26 May 2021
The following code (Matlab R2019a) draws an arrow in the plot coordinates from point P1 to point P2. Zoom in/out shifts position of the arrow:
P1=[10,-1]; %from point
P2=[70,2]; % to point
figure;
Xlim=[-1 110];
Ylim=[-2 3];
Pos = [0.10 0.55 0.85 0.4];
subplot('Position', Pos)
hold on
X_conv(1)=Pos(1)+(Pos(3))/(Xlim(2)-Xlim(1))*(P1(1)-Xlim(1));
X_conv(2)=Pos(1)+(Pos(3))/(Xlim(2)-Xlim(1))*(P2(1)-Xlim(1));
Y_conv(1)=Pos(2)+(Pos(4))/(Ylim(2)-Ylim(1))*(P1(2)-Ylim(1));
Y_conv(2)=Pos(2)+(Pos(4))/(Ylim(2)-Ylim(1))*(P2(2)-Ylim(1));
x=0:0.1:100;plot(x, sin(x));plot([-100 1000], P2(2)*[1 1]); plot(P2(1)*[1 1], [-100 100]);
plot(x, sin(x));plot([-100 1000], P1(2)*[1 1]); plot(P1(1)*[1 1], [-100 100])
xlim(Xlim)
ylim(Ylim)
annotation('arrow', X_conv, Y_conv)
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Walter Roberson on 1 Jun 2021
It should not be added to the code. Adam is saying that if you wanted to illustrate that the arrow did not follow the axes, then you could delete the axes and observe that the arrow is still there.

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Bruce Jackson on 26 Oct 2022
It is absurd that we have to jump through hoops or download submitted code to plot an arrow in data units on a plot.
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Bruce Jackson on 27 Oct 2022
Thanks for the suggestion, but I would like to place and point arrows with a specified length and direction. The innovative use of UNICODE arrows unfortunately doesn't allow for more than four or maybe eight directions, I expect.
[The excellent coord2norm() function, written by user sco1, should be part of core MATLAB and not require me to download and install third-party code, which I'm attempting to avoid to have a marketable toolbox.]

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