What free programs/software are best for creating publication-quality scatterplots?

I'm looking for something like this:

enter image description here

Square, small (take ups about 1/4 to 1/3 of a single column in a two-column paper) but high resolution. Preferably with ability to add axis title and trendline. Thanks

  • 5
    I’m voting to close this question because it is not specific to academia (other people plot things too) and is moreover very broad without further criteria (there are dozens of plotting programs out there). With further specifications of the software’s desired properties, it may be suited for Software Recommendations, but please read their guidelines before asking.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 30, 2016 at 5:15
  • 2
    By the way, you do not want high resolution, you want vector graphics for this.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 30, 2016 at 5:16
  • I really like pyplot with seaborn set_style(whitegrid) but that's just me. Aug 30, 2016 at 5:36
  • While technically not 'free', Excel can do scatter plots, and is likely already installed on your computer. OpenOffice probably can do it too.
    – MikeP
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:34

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure this question fits well here on academia.SE, but if you want free, beautiful, and powerful, it'll be hard to beat R. See e.g.




That looks like it was drawn in base R, free software available from r-project.org. A quick call to 'plot' would produce that plot if given the necessary x, y data and labels, see '?plot' for further details. It's a line drawing so can be saved as a vector, which has no resolution in the traditional sense so can be scaled as necessary.

That being said if you only want to produce a scatterplot as a one time thing then similar results can be achieved using excel if you have access to it (though MS Office is not free). This would likely circumvent the steepish learning curve with R.


I like more Sci lab, Octave, and Java. In my opinion, Matlab is the best tool for creating graphycs, but it is not free. Here you can find a list of alternatives to Matlab, many of them are open source.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .