How to Change the Position of a Legend in Matplotlib


To change the position of a legend in Matplotlib, you can use the plt.legend() function.

For example, you can use the following syntax to place the legend in the upper left corner of the plot:

plt.legend(loc='upper left')

The default location is “best” – which is where Matplotlib automatically finds a location for the legend based on where it avoids covering any data points.

However, you can specify any of the following legend locations:

  • upper right
  • upper left
  • lower left
  • lower right
  • right
  • center left
  • center right
  • lower center
  • upper center
  • center

You can also use the bbox_to_anchor() argument to place the legend outside of the plot. For example, you can use the following syntax to place the legend in the top right corner outside of the plot:

plt.legend(bbox_to_anchor=(1.05, 1), loc='upper left', borderaxespad=0)

The following examples show how to use each of these methods in practice.

Example 1: Change Legend Position Inside of Matplotlib Plot

The following code shows how to place the legend inside the center right portion of a Matplotlib line plot:

import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

#create data
df = pd.DataFrame({'points': [11, 17, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 24, 29],
                   'assists': [5, 7, 7, 9, 12, 9, 9, 4, 8]})

#add lines to plot
plt.plot(df['points'], label='Points', color='green')
plt.plot(df['assists'], label='Assists', color='steelblue')

#place legend in center right of plot
plt.legend(loc='center right', title='Metric')

And the following code shows how to place the legend inside the upper left portion of a Matplotlib plot:

import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

#create data
df = pd.DataFrame({'points': [11, 17, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 24, 29],
                   'assists': [5, 7, 7, 9, 12, 9, 9, 4, 8]})

#add lines to plot
plt.plot(df['points'], label='Points', color='green')
plt.plot(df['assists'], label='Assists', color='steelblue')

#place legend in center right of plot
plt.legend(loc='upper left', title='Metric')

Example 2: Change Legend Position Outside of Matplotlib Plot

To place the legend outside of a Matplotlib plot, we can use the bbox_to_anchor() argument.

For example, here’s how to place the legend outside the top right corner of the plot:

import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

#create data
df = pd.DataFrame({'points': [11, 17, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 24, 29],
                   'assists': [5, 7, 7, 9, 12, 9, 9, 4, 8]})

#add lines to plot
plt.plot(df['points'], label='Points', color='green')
plt.plot(df['assists'], label='Assists', color='steelblue')

#place legend in center right of plot
plt.legend(bbox_to_anchor=(1.02, 1), loc='upper left', borderaxespad=0)

And here’s how to place the legend outside the bottom right corner of the plot:

import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

#create data
df = pd.DataFrame({'points': [11, 17, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 24, 29],
                   'assists': [5, 7, 7, 9, 12, 9, 9, 4, 8]})

#add lines to plot
plt.plot(df['points'], label='Points', color='green')
plt.plot(df['assists'], label='Assists', color='steelblue')

#place legend in center right of plot
plt.legend(bbox_to_anchor=(1.02, 0.1), loc='upper left', borderaxespad=0)

Refer to the matplotlib documentation for a detailed explanation of the bbox_to_anchor() argument.

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common operations in Matplotlib:

How to Change Legend Font Size in Matplotlib
How to Adjust Title Position in Matplotlib
How to Adjust Axis Label Position in Matplotlib

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