Stata Coding Practices: Visualization

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(This page is under construction.)

Modern Stata versions have extremely powerful graphics capabilities which allow the rapid creation of publication-quality graphics from almost any kind of tabular data. Although the default graphical commands and settings leave much to be desired, the customizability and interoperability of Stata's visualization tools mean that almost any imaginable output can be rendered using Stata's built-in graphics engine.

Read First

Stata graphics are typically created using one of four command types. Each has specific use cases, strengths, and weaknesses, and it is important to be familiar with the abilities and limitations of each when considering which to use to create a particular visualization. All four methods (except some user-written commands) use the same basic styling syntax discussed in this article.

  • The graph command suite creates pre-packaged visualizations, typically based on Stata's native collapse syntax and statistics.
  • The twoway suite, which is the most commonly used tool, allows a flexible and open-ended approach to visualizing any amount of information in an abstract set of axes.
  • Built-in graphical commands (such as lowess) offer pre-packaged visualizations that do not follow the graph style. These commands are typically better used within a twoway environment and may behave differently when used independently.
  • User-written commands (such as iegraph or spmap) create custom visualizations, but typically have unique purpose-built syntaxes and cannot be integrated in a twoway environment.

General Graphics Tools

Graphics Options

local bad BAD
sysuse auto`bad'.dta

Graphical Schemes

Combining Graphics

Specific Visualization Approaches

The graph Command

The twoway Command

Built-in Visualization Commands

User-written Visualization Commands