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Creating a Simple Multi Layered Graph

A number of multi-layered graphs can be created by simply (1) selecting your worksheet data and (2) clicking on a menu command or toolbar button:


Double Y Axis graph

One of the simplest and most common multi-layered graph configurations is the Double Y Axis graph. As the name implies, this graph has two Y axes -- a left and a right -- displaying different axis scales, and sharing a common X axis scale. Such a graph might be used to plot, say, corn yields (grams/square meter) on the left Y axis and rainfall (centimeters) on the right Y axis, and the year (2005, 2006, 2007, etc.) on a common X axis. Such a graph requires two layers to display scales measuring two different dependent variables. Since, with the Double Y Axis graph, we expect both layers to display a common set of X axis values, we typically "link" the two layer's X axis scales so that they become, effectively, one scale (Origin does this by default when using the built-in Double Y Axis graph template, DOUBLEY.OTP).

Image:Creating a Simple Multi-Layered Graph 01.png

To create a Double Y Axis graph:

  1. Select two Y datasets in the worksheet.
  2. Click the Double Y Axis Image:Button_Double_Y_Axis.png button on the 2D Graphs toolbar or from the menu, choose Plot: Multi-Curve: Double Y.

Note that you can also create a Double Y Axis graph from an existing single axis graph. This involves adding a layer to your graph, using the Layer Management Tool.

For more information, see these topics:

  • Double Y Axis Graph

Panel graph

Another common type of multi-layered graph is the panel graph. Typically, this is a page with multiple line or symbol graphs arrayed in an N x M arrangement on the page (for example as in this four-panel graph). Such a graph might be used, for instance, to chart a number of water-quality parameters -- - nitrates, suspended solids, pH, etc. -- by date. Since each parameter (dependent variable) is measured on a different scale, each requires its own XY axis. When arrayed side-by-side or top-to-bottom, the viewer can get a quick look at how the different parameters vary in relation to one another.

You can quickly create a panel graph using one of Origin's built-in panel graph templates:

  1. Select 2 or more Y datasets in the worksheet.
  1. Click one of the panel graph buttons (Vertical 2 Panel, Horizontal 2 Panel, etc.) on the 2D Graphs toolbar or from the menu, choose Plot: Multi-Curve: Vertical 2 Panel, etc.

Note that you can create a panel graph from an existing graph or graphs. This involves either adding layers to an existing graph, extracting plots in a single graph to multiple graph layers, or merging separate graph windows into a single graph window.

For more information, see these topics:

Inset graph

A third common application for multi-layered graphs is what is called inset graph (see the picture below). An inset graph generally has two parts: a larger, parent graph, and one (or possibly more) child graph that is "inset" into the parent graph. The smaller, inset graph is created from a portion of the larger data plot, and thus, serves to focus the viewer's attention on some key feature of the parent graph.

Image:Creating a Simple Multi-Layered Graph 02.png

In Origin, each graph -- the parent graph and each inset (child) graph -- comprise separate layers on the graph page. Since the graph layer is a self-contained unit, you can adjust the size, placement, and axis scales of each layer, as needed.

While there are a couple of ways to create an inset graph, the most convenient method uses one of the Add Inset Graph buttons on the Graph toolbar. This toolbar has two buttons which create a new graph layer that is appropriately sized and positioned to serve as an inset graph. The button on the left (of the two buttons circled in red) insets a second layer in the active graph layer without adding data; the button on the right adds the second layer and, additionally, adds the plot(s) of the parent graph to the inset layer. In both cases, the graph layer of the child graph is linked to the parent graph layer, but in this case, it is only a spatial link -- axes scale values are not linked.

Creating a quick inset graph using the Graph toolbar buttons:

  1. With your graph window active, click one of the Add Inset Graph buttons (see the picture below). Note that the button to the left creates an empty layer and the button on the right (with the red "curve") creates a layer containing the parent layer plot(s).
    Image:Creating a Simple Multi-Layered Graph03.png
  2. To adjust the scale values of the inset graph, double-click on the inset graph axes, click on the Scale tab and adjust the From and To values. Note that the inset layer is linked to the parent graph by size and position on graph page but axes scales are not linked.

Note: There is a second way to quickly create an inset graph: First, select and copy a graph layer, then paste and resize the layer in its destination window. For more information, see Coping and Pasting Graphs inside Origin.

For more information, see these topics in the Origin Help file: