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Matplotlib – Remove the frame without altering the ticks and the tick labels

To remove the rectangular frame of a matplotlib plot, you can use the respective axes object’s set_frame_on() function and pass False as an argument.

This will remove the rectangular bounding box but will not alter the ticks and tick labels.

Example 1 – Remove the frame from a plot

Let’s look at an example. First, we will create a simple plot and how it looks with the rectangular frame which is present by default.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# x values - years
x = [2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020]
# y values - 1 USD in INR
y = [46.67, 53.44, 56.57, 62.33, 62.97, 66.46, 67.79, 70.09, 70.39, 76.38]

# plot x and y on scatter plot
plt.scatter(x, y)

# add axes labels
plt.xlabel('Year')
plt.ylabel('1USD in INR')

Output:

scatter plot of year vs usd to rupee conversion data

Now, let’s create the above plot but without the frame using the axes object’s set_frame_on() function. You can use the pyplot object’s gca() function to get the current plot’s axes object and then apply the set_frame_on() function.

# plot x and y on scatter plot
plt.scatter(x, y)

# add axes labels
plt.xlabel('Year')
plt.ylabel('1USD in INR')

# remove the rectangular frame of the plot
plt.gca().set_frame_on(False)

Output:

The rectangular frame is now removed.

Example 2 – Remove the frame from subplots

You can similarly remove the frame from a subplot as well. For this, use the subplot’s axes object’s set_frame_on() function.

Let’s first create a plot with two subplots.

fig, (ax1, ax2) = plt.subplots(1, 2, figsize=(10, 5))

# plot the first subplot
ax1.scatter(x, y)
# add axis labels
ax1.set_xlabel('Year')
ax1.set_ylabel('1USD in INR')

# plot the second subplot
ax2.scatter(x, y)
# add axis labels
ax2.set_xlabel('Year')
ax2.set_ylabel('1USD in INR')

Output:

plot with two scatter plot subplots

Here we created two subplots in a single row. The data in the subplots is the same but that is not important what we want to focus on is to how can we remove the frame from a subplot.

Let’s now plot the same subplots again but this time with the frame of the first subplot removed.

fig, (ax1, ax2) = plt.subplots(1, 2, figsize=(10, 5))

# plot the first subplot
ax1.scatter(x, y)
# add axis labels
ax1.set_xlabel('Year')
ax1.set_ylabel('1USD in INR')
# remove the rectangular frame of the subplot
ax1.set_frame_on(False)

# plot the second subplot
ax2.scatter(x, y)
# add axis labels
ax2.set_xlabel('Year')
ax2.set_ylabel('1USD in INR')

Output:

frame removed from specific subplot

The frame of the first subplot is removed but its ticks and tick labels are intact.

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Author

  • Piyush

    Piyush is a data scientist passionate about using data to understand things better and make informed decisions. In the past, he's worked as a Data Scientist for ZS and holds an engineering degree from IIT Roorkee. His hobbies include watching cricket, reading, and working on side projects.