There's always been some confusion and lack of clear agreement about what term to use to describe figures that depict the set of points corresponding to a function or relation. Is it a "graph", a "plot", a "figure" — or something else? Given the range of functions Mathematica provides for generating these, whatever they're called, and given the versatility of these functions in generating many related (and not so related) graphics that are not strictly mathematical functions or relations, what tag or tags should we use to identify posts discussing them?

Some possibilities include:

  • graphics
  • plots
  • plotting
  • graphing
  • figures

FWIW, Math.SE uses graph for "questions regarding graphs of functions"; Stack Overlfow uses plot for "a graphical technique for presenting a data set or a equation" but graph for "a graphic (such as a chart or diagram) showing or displaying the relationship between two or more variables".

  • 1
    I think that we should try to reserve graph for graph theory questions. plotting and graphics should cover most of the other cases.
    – Simon
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 8:31
  • @Simon you know I love brevity, but I suspect that even on this new site it may be necessary to use graph-theory unless we want to spend extra time retagging.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 12:41
  • @Mr.Wizard: I agree. I think that was the consensus reached on chat (or somewhere); graph will just confuse people, so should probably not be available.
    – Simon
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 12:51

2 Answers 2


There was some debate among a few regular users on SO, and I believe the consensus essentially was that a tag like should be used for built-in plotting functions like Plot and ListPlot, even extending to packages like ErrorListPlot, despite the fact that all such functions ultimately produce a Graphics or Graphics3D objects. For direct uses of Graphics or Graphics3D, though, the consensus was to use . But, I don't think the 3D version was talked about, and I would not have a problem with another tag .

  • 1
    It could be useful to have graphics3d but it might be better to roll it into graphics while the site is new. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 1:51
  • 2
    I like [graphics] for low-level constructions using Graphics and Graphics3D, and [plotting] for questions involving ___Plot___ functions. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 2:17
  • @BrettChampion, that was pretty much my thinking.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 2:18
  • I also agre with @Brett, so this is cleared up then. Can we edit tag wikis already?
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 17:17
  • @Szabolcs, I think the same requirements for editing apply: they have to be reviewed. But, I don't know by who, in this case. Also, synonyms are off the table until someone breaks 1250 rep.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 17:19
  • @Szabolcs I put something in for the plotting wiki. Not showing up yet, of course... Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 17:37
  • @Brett Now it says "edit pending" and I can't suggest any other edits until it gets reviewed. It's sending me to the review queue, but none of us have enough privileges for that.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 17:41
  • @Szabolcs tag wikis are getting populated now. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 21:15

My first thought is that since the main Mathematica function for generating plots is Plot, we should use a tag name based on "plot".

Graphics is a (related but) separate thing in Mathematica. Typically when you're plotting a function, you're not thinking about the details of the Graphics object you get. I would suggest reserving the "graphics" tag for questions related to actual manipulations of Graphics objects, not simple plotting. "graphics" would also be suitable for questions that use Plot (or a variant) simply as a starting point to obtain a Graphics object for further manipulation.

  • 1
    Actually, all plot functions are just convenient wrappers for Graphics and Graphics3D.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 1:34
  • 1
    @rcollyer: This is true but most people treat them as distinct, independent things. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 2:23
  • @MikeBantegui, very true, and that's why I suggested the hierarchy of tags.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 2:27
  • The whole of Mathematica is a convenient wrapper of something. I wouldn't say that Graphics and Plot are the same, since they serve pretty distinct things on the user side.
    – David
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 4:41
  • @David, they're distinct until you type Head@Plot[x^2,{x,0,1}] then they're distinctiveness disappears.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:41

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