I use Emacs as the IDE for most of my projects, one of which required plotting a graph to debug an issue. I have summarised the steps I followed to generate a graph using Emacs, with a mac.


  1. Download and install Xcode from App Store

  2. Install command line tools

    xcode-select install
  3. Install gnuplot - the graphs will be powered by gnuplot

    sudo port install gnuplot +qt5 + x11 +aquaterm +wxwidgets

    Refer this setup guide for more details

  4. Emacs packages to be included in your .emacs or init.el : gnuplot, gnuplot-mode

    (straight-use-package 'gnuplot)
    (straight-use-package 'gnuplot-mode)
  5. Read the primer for tables in org-mode

Generating a graph from an org file

  1. Create a table with the values you would like to plot

  2. Keep your cursor inside the table and invoke the following command

    M-x org-plot/gnuplot

    The short cut key for the same is C-c " g

  3. The graph shown below will be generated outside the emacs GUI and can be seen in a separate window.

  4. There are multiple options that can be provided to gnuplot. For instance, in the above plot, since the x-axis was not mentioned in the table it considered both columns to be Y axis. Hence, the two lines - one for each column

  5. Options can be provided just above the table you want to plot, in the following format

    #+PLOT: ind:1
    | X Axis | Y Axis |
    |      0 |      0 |
  6. Some options that are useful for simple plots

    • ind - ind stands for index of the column which will act as x-axis. For table 1, we would like our first column to serve as x-axis

      #+PLOT: ind:1
      Figure 1: Plot based on the above options

      Figure 1: Plot based on the above options

    • with - with decides how to plot the graph. By default it uses lines which resulted in the above plot. Here is an example with another value.

      #+PLOT: ind:1 with:points
    • For more options refer https://orgmode.org/manual/Org-Plot.html

Detailed References