I would like to produce plots similar to the one show below (arXiv link to paper).

All text in this plot is selectable. I suspect this plot was not done with R or GNU Plot, but TikZ/PGF LaTeX packages because of the selectable text and because it does not look like R or GNU plots.

Can someone tell for sure what packages were used for the plot below? (I guess I could email the authors...)

enter image description here

  • Looks like MATLAB to me.
    – jakebeal
    Mar 5, 2016 at 13:13
  • Who knows? I'm pretty sure I could reproduce these plots with R if I had access to the data. And "selectable text" just means that these plots are vector graphics.
    – Roland
    Mar 5, 2016 at 13:41
  • 8
    Update: they were produced by gnuplot, not LaTeX — downloading the paper’s source files (available from its main arXiv page under “other formats”), one can see the original pdfs of the figures, and their metadata says they were created by gnuplot. Mar 5, 2016 at 14:08
  • @jakebeal given how squished the text in the legend looks, I agree with MATLAB, PGFPlots would never look that bad.
    – StrongBad
    Mar 5, 2016 at 14:42
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    @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine You answered my question, thanks! Not sure how I can accept your comment as answer...
    – Dmitrii I.
    Mar 5, 2016 at 19:01

2 Answers 2


(Answer converted from comment.)

Downloading the paper’s source files (available from its main arXiv page, under “other formats”), one can see the original pdfs of the figures, and their pdf metadata says that they were created by gnuplot. Specifically, they list “Content creator: gnuplot 4.2 patchlevel 6” and “PDF Producer: GPL Ghostscript 9.07”.

These are then included in the main LaTeX file with \includegraphics[scale=0.55]{impact_examples.pdf}, and so on.

The two 3D figures are supplied as .png files, and don’t appear to contain any such revealing metadata. They have different fonts from the other figures, so I would guess they were created using a different tool.


That is not hard.

You should save your plot into vector format. Not .png or .jpeg.

If you use Matlab, when you click "save as", you could select the format as ".eps". And by doing so you can zoom your plot without blurring it and at the meantime the legend are text rather than an image.

  • 1
    might be better to save as pdf from Matlab. One can also convert pdf to svg using pdf2svg. with svg one can also use it for HTML with tex4ht.
    – Nasser
    Mar 5, 2016 at 22:32
  • Saving to either pdf or eps from matlab seems to discard any selectable text, at least in 2016b + adobe reader
    – Eric
    Nov 7, 2016 at 22:54

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