How to Create and Modify Histograms in Stata

A histogram is a type of chart that uses rectangular bars to represent frequencies. It’s a helpful way to visualize the distribution of data values.

This tutorial explains how to create and modify histograms in Stata.

How to Create Histograms in Stata

We’ll use a dataset called auto to illustrate how to create and modify histograms in Stata.

First, load the data by typing the following into the Command box:


We can get a quick look at the dataset by typing the following into the Command box:


Summarize example command in Stata

We can see that there are 12 total variables in the dataset.

Basic Histogram

We can create a histogram for the variable length by using the hist command:

hist length

Basic histogram in Stata

Histogram with Frequencies

By default, Stata displays the density on the y-axis. You can change the y-axis to display the actual frequencies by using the freq command:

hist length, freq

Histogram in Stata

Histogram with Percentages

You can also change the y-axis to display percentages instead of frequencies by using the percent command:

hist length, percent

Histogram with percentage on y-axis in Stata

Changing the Number of Bins

When you use the hist function in Stata, it automatically tells you how many “bins” it used. For example, in the previous examples it always used 8 bins:

Histogram with bins in Stata

However, we can specify the exact number of bins by using the bin() command. For example, the following code tells Stata to use 16 bins instead of 8:

hist length, percent bin(16)

Histogram in Stata with 16 bins

We can also tell Stata to use fewer bins:

hist length, percent bin(4)

Stata histogram with 4 bins

Notice that the more bins you use, the more granularity you can see in the data.

Adding a Normal Density to a Histogram

You can add a normal density curve to a histogram by using the normal command:

hist length, normal

Histogram with normal density curve in Stata

How to Modify Histograms in Stata

We can use several different commands to modify the appearance of the histograms.

Adding a Title

We can add a title to the plot using the title() command:

hist length, title(“Distribution of Length”)

Histogram with a title in Stata

Adding a Subtitle

We can also add a subtitle underneath the title using the subtitle() command:

hist length, title(“Distribution of Length”) subtitle(“n = 74 cars”)

Histogram with subtitle in Stata

Adding a Comment

We can also add a note or comment at the bottom of the graph by using the note() command:

hist length, note(“Source: 1978 Automobile Data”)

Histogram with a note in Stata

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