Learn matplotlib in 2020


I’m wondering if there is a recommended way to learn matplotlib in 2020. There are lots of tutorials and many of them are out of date. There are many books as well but most are not about Matplotlib 3.

I know the basics of matplotlib but I’d like to become proficient. I have tried reading a few chapters from these two books, but somehow I get the feeling that this is not going to help me “get” matplotlib.

The best resource that I found so far is Anatomy of Matplotlib.


You can try the tutorial @tacaswell and I gave at Scipy last year? https://github.com/matplotlib/GettingStarted


Thanks. I will do that. Do you have recommendations on how to go one level deeper into matplotlib?

Try to do things, and if you can’t figure it out, look it up on google? What “deeper” level are you looking for?

You may also want to check out https://github.com/rougier/scientific-visualization-book


I think the solutions on the internet mix up a lot of concepts and use legacy interfaces, which are no longer recommended in this book and by Ben Root.

I understand that there are a lot of things in matplotlib to satisfy legacy requirements but I don’t want to be burdened by those legacy approaches. Similar to vim and neovim.

so I’m curious if an authoritative reference to learning matplotlib in depth exists in 2020. Tutorials only get you started, if you want to gain in depth knowledge, it’s better to read a book.

Of course trying never hurts but there has to be a more efficient method to learn matplotlib.

The authoritative reference is the docs and any talk or tutorial given by a core developer. I understand that the docs are hard to navigate, but it’d be really helpful if you could be more specific about what sort of information is missing from the matplotlib docs tutorials

Most tutorials only help with the basics. I have struggled to learn enough from them to produce publication quality charts.

I used a python book called “Learning Python”. It is > 1000 pages but I got a good grasp of the language and I can go back to it if I want to understand something.

I just don’t think docs are a good replacement for a book that is designed to help somebody become proficient. So there is a gap between the tutorials and the documentation.

I hope this book fills that gap.

It looks like I’m not the only one struggling with matplotlib. There is a Hacker News thread where people have aired their frustrations.


I was reading this article and what Tom has on his wishlist is what I would like.

So, to answer the question, having someone who can actually write and has empathy for users, to go through and basically write a 200-page “Intro to Matplotlib” book, and have that be the main entry to the docs. That’s my current vision of what I want.

It looks like I’m not the only one struggling with matplotlib. There is a Hacker News thread where people have aired their frustrations.


It would be really useful for folks to list their concerns as specifically as they can. If we have actionable things we can work towards that helps.

I found this comment to be a gem:

The tool is designed for scientists who know nothing about how a library should be designed or how a program should be structured. There’s a lot of dynamic stuff in Pandas that while making things easier for scientists make things a lot more difficult for CS people.

WRT a book, sure that would be great, but someone has to sit down and write it.

Another excellent material available for free covering Pandas and matplotlib.