When I use pgfplots, I get the following warning:

Package pgfplots Warning: running in backwards compatibility mode (unsuitable tick labels; missing features). Consider writing \pgfplotsset{compat=1.11} into your preamble.

I have learned that this is normal, and that the warning is there for good reasons. However, I'm now facing some problems related to tick labels, and I wonder if it can be related to this warning. (Other question Single year interval on dateplot x axis, any help still appreciated).

Does anyone know what the actual problem with the tick labels is? When was it fixed? How can I get access to the missing features and more suitable tick labels?

  • "How can I get access to the missing features and more suitable tick labels?" By writing \pgfplotsset{compat=1.11} into your preamble... You can see some of the changes for the most recent version in Section 2.2.1 of the manual.
    – darthbith
    Dec 5, 2014 at 20:13
  • @darthbith so what version of pgfplots is used if one doesn't write compat=1.11 into the preamble?
    – olagjo
    Dec 5, 2014 at 20:32
  • @olagjo the value default is used. According to the manual on Page 11 (for the v1.11 manual), "The value default is the same as pre 1.3 (up to insignificant changes)." So it seems to fall into the most backwards compatible mode.
    – darthbith
    Dec 5, 2014 at 20:38
  • 1
    Related/possible duplicate? tex.stackexchange.com/q/81899/32374
    – darthbith
    Dec 5, 2014 at 20:39
  • @darthbith: Related, but not a duplicate. That question does not address the problem with tick labels in particular. Dec 5, 2014 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


Over time Christian fixed a lot of things regarding the tick labels, some originating from questions asked here, some from constant abusers like myself and other users here.

There is not only one tick label related issue here. In every version loads of tiny changes are introduced however if you don't use the latest set of features, there might be discrepancies. Examples of such entries can be found in changelog file.

2010-09-08 Christian Feuersaenger <[email protected]>
- added 'table/every nth row' key
- fixed bug: now, extra tick labels can have a different 'ticklabel pos'
than the original axes (it was broken since 1.2.2)
- fixed bug: it is now allowed to provide '#' (hash sign) in \addplot
option arguments (for example to define 'x filter/.code={...#1...}')
- added support for \pgfplotsforeachungrouped \a/\b in {...} syntax


2010-07-09 Christian Feuersaenger <[email protected]>
- fixed bug: the check whether lists are terminated by '\\' failed if '\\'
occured within the list. This affected mainly legends and tick label
- improved and documented customized legends, including optional
appearance keys for specific legend texts
|\addlegendentry[<options>]{<text>}| and documentation for multiline
legend entries.


2009-12-02 Christian Feuersaenger <[email protected]>
- found and fixed bug: tick labels could penetrate the axis. This should
no longer happen.

etc. And probably it is much more involved than these items that made it to the changelog. Thus, it is very unlikely that you have something regarding that warning.

There is a great effort for keeping the backwards compatibility but there is always one archaic distro that still has pre 1.3 version and in my opinion they should be updated instead keeping this much of effort to maintain backwards compatibility.

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