# How to create a box (and whisker) plot

## Description

A box plot, or a box and whisker plot, shows the quartiles of a single variable from a dataset (one of which is the median) and may also show the outliers. It is a simplified way to see the distribution of a variable. Sometimes multiple box plots (one for each of several variables) are shown side-by-side on a plot, to compare the variables. How can we create such graphs?

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## Using Matplotlib, in Python

We will create some fake data using Python lists, for simplicity. But everything we show below works also if your data is in columns of a DataFrame, such as `df['age']`

.

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patient_id = [ 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 ]
patient_height = [ 60, 64, 64, 65, 66, 66, 70, 72, 72, 76 ]
patient_weight = [ 141, 182, 169, 204, 138, 198, 180, 175, 244, 196 ]

The conventional way to import matplotlib in Python is as follows.

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import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

To create a box-and-whisker plot, sometimes called just a box plot requires just one line of code, plus one to show the plot.

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plt.boxplot( patient_height )
plt.show()

You can show more than one variable’s box plot side-by-side by forming a list of the data.

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plt.boxplot( [ patient_height, patient_weight ] )
plt.show()

Content last modified on 24 July 2023.

See a problem? Tell us or edit the source.

## Solution, in R

We will create some fake data using vectors, for simplicity. But everything we show below works also if your data is in columns of a DataFrame.

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patient_id <- c(0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
patient_height <- c(60, 64, 64, 65, 66, 66, 70, 72, 72, 76)
patient_weight <- c(141, 182, 169, 204, 138, 198, 180, 175, 244, 196)

We can use R’s boxplot() function to make the plot.

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boxplot(patient_weight)

You can show more than one variable’s box plot side-by-side by passing both variables into the boxplot() function.

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boxplot(patient_height, patient_weight)

Content last modified on 24 July 2023.

See a problem? Tell us or edit the source.

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