R plot pch symbols : The different point shapes available in R

Different plotting symbols are available in R. The graphical argument used to specify point shapes is pch.

Plotting symbols

The different points symbols commonly used in R are shown in the figure below :

R plot pch symbols

The function used to generate this figure is provided at the end of this document

  • pch = 0,square
  • pch = 1,circle
  • pch = 2,triangle point up
  • pch = 3,plus
  • pch = 4,cross
  • pch = 5,diamond
  • pch = 6,triangle point down
  • pch = 7,square cross
  • pch = 8,star
  • pch = 9,diamond plus
  • pch = 10,circle plus
  • pch = 11,triangles up and down
  • pch = 12,square plus
  • pch = 13,circle cross
  • pch = 14,square and triangle down
  • pch = 15, filled square
  • pch = 16, filled circle
  • pch = 17, filled triangle point-up
  • pch = 18, filled diamond
  • pch = 19, solid circle
  • pch = 20,bullet (smaller circle)
  • pch = 21, filled circle blue
  • pch = 22, filled square blue
  • pch = 23, filled diamond blue
  • pch = 24, filled triangle point-up blue
  • pch = 25, filled triangle point down blue

Point can be omitted from the plot using pch = NA.


x<-c(2.2, 3, 3.8, 4.5, 7, 8.5, 6.7, 5.5)
y<-c(4, 5.5, 4.5, 9, 11, 15.2, 13.3, 10.5)
# Plot points
plot(x, y)
# Change plotting symbol
# Use solid circle
plot(x, y, pch = 19)

plot of chunk exampleplot of chunk example

By default pch=1

The following arguments can be used to change the color and the size of the points :

  • col : color (code or name) to use for the points
  • bg : the background (or fill) color for the open plot symbols. It can be used only when pch = 21:25.
  • cex : the size of pch symbols
  • lwd : the line width for the plotting symbols
# Change color
plot(x, y, pch=19, col="darkgreen", cex=1.5)
# Color can be a vector
plot(x, y, pch=19, col=c("green", "red"))
# change border, background color and line width
plot(x, y, pch = 24, cex=2, col="blue", bg="red", lwd=2)

Change pch color and sizeChange pch color and sizeChange pch color and size

Note that, only pch from 21 to 25 can be filled using the argument bg=

Other characters can be used to specify pch including “+”, “*“,”-“,”.“,”#, “%”, “o”

plot(x=rnorm(100), y=rnorm(100), pch="+")

Other symbols

R script to generate a plot of point shapes in R

Use the following R function to display a graph of the plotting symbols :

#generate a plot of point shapes which R knows about.
  par(font=2, mar=c(0.5,0,0,0))
  y=rev(c(rep(1,6),rep(2,5), rep(3,5), rep(4,5), rep(5,5)))
  plot(x, y, pch = 0:25, cex=1.5, ylim=c(1,5.5), xlim=c(1,6.5), 
       axes=FALSE, xlab="", ylab="", bg="blue")
  text(x, y, labels=0:25, pos=3)
  par(mar=oldPar$mar,font=oldPar$font )


This analysis has been performed using R (ver. 3.1.0).

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