# Controlling Data Labels on Graphs - Number of Decimal Places Reported - Minitab

M

#### My_name_is_Ben

Hello,

Can someone tell me if it is possible to limit the number of decimal places reported in the data lables displayed on a graph. The default seems to be 6 significant figures, but that takes up so much space it becomes unreadable. 3 would be better.

thanks
Ben

#### Bev D

##### Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
Re: Controlling data labels on graphs

I'm sure a minitab expert will come along shortly for a specific answer for you.
(I'm a JMP/EXCEL user)

let me ask a very different question that might resolve your issue tho: WHY do you need to have data labels on a graphical display of the data? What value does it add to the analysis?

Graphs are for relative comparisons. Data tables are for those who must look at the exact numerical value.

M

#### My_name_is_Ben

I have to present data in a very concise form. Presenting the graph is all I have space for, but I _must_ have the mean available to view somehow. Typically I use box plots with individual data points shown because the number of data points is small. That allows people to compare whether one data set was more tightly distributed than another, whilst simultaneously showing (for those who can be bothered to look) whether there were multiple outliers that are artificially skewing the mean.

The way I use statistics is impure. I am sure that many people would have a problem with the way that I treat outliers, and I am sure many people are wondering why I combine a box plot and an individual data plot. If the data isn't good enough to build a reasonable box plot then don't plot one, right? However, you have to speak the same language as your audience, and if they won't buy into your conclusions unless you show them a box plot then you have to show them a box plot.

Ben

#### Bev D

##### Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
I think your statistics are pretty pure: there is nothing like plotting all of the data so you and your audience can see the variation instead of having to envision it by doing math in their head form the average and standard deviation.

#### Miner

##### Forum Moderator
Staff member
Minitab handles this in a rather awkward fashion. Here are the steps:

1. Go to the worksheet and right click on the column containing the data used in the chart
2. Select Format Column
3. Select Numeric
4. Select Fixed Decimal
5. Enter 3
6. Select Okay
If your chart does not automatically update, right click on the chart and select Update or Update Automatically.

Note Minitab keeps your data out to the original number of decimal places. This just changes the number of digits displayed.

M

#### My_name_is_Ben

Hi Miner,

Thanks for the tip. I was having mixed success until I realised the critical step - that you need to select "Use labels from column" instead of "use y-value labels". Using the latter option leaves the labels with the same number of significant figures as the underlying data. Using the former option gives data labels formatted to the same number of decimal places that the column is formatted with.

I would have never got here without your help. thanks

Ben

Staff member

A

#### Allattar

A rather less automatic way of doing it is to edit each label individually, and cut the decimals down in size.

Not optimum but possible.

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