I always have trouble naming my graphs in class. They never seem too scientific or professional.

For example, we are reviewing density now, and had to graph the mass (Y) of different volumes (X) of water. So, very simply, my title was "Mass of Different Volumes of Water". Is this appropriate?

Are there any naming conventions, such as "X vs. Y", or "Effects of X on Y" or "Relationship of X and Y", etc.? Sorry if this is a bit stylistic and opinion based, but I would like some feedback. Thanks.

Note: I'm in the tenth grade.

Note 2: I'm also not sure what site to post this under (there's no "science" site) nor what tags to post this with. Feel free to improve it.


Label your graph with a title of what it shows. For example, if you have plotted a graph of the temperature recorded each day at one location for a year, you could title it:

Temperature at Observation Site A during 2014-15

Essentially, you want to summarise the X and Y variables and what your sample is in the title. In this case, X = date, Y = temperature, and the sample is Observation Site A.

If you had measured the mass and volume of water at 25°C for numerous samples, you could title it:

Mass vs Volume of Water at 25°C

In this case, X = mass, Y = volume, and your sample is water at a fixed temperature.

I hope this makes some sense?

As for naming conventions, they tend to be dictated by whoever is going to assess it. If you write a paper to submit to a journal, they have certain styles. A different journal, different styles. Whatever you do decide on, be consistent.

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    $\begingroup$ Agree with your post except for one small bit (chances are it's a typo), the mass is the dependent variable here (ie plotted on y-axis) and the volume should be the independent variable (x-axis). $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Sep 16 '15 at 6:05
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    $\begingroup$ Probably a good catch! Obviously it will depend if you have measured the mass after changing the volume, or measured the volume after changing the mass. (One is inherently easier...) $\endgroup$ – Popher Sep 16 '15 at 8:33

The most general way of naming a graph is by writing,

Y vs X graph

An example is, Distance vs Time graph. In which the Y axis represents Distance and X represents time.

In order to know which comes in which axis you have to have a clear understanding about independent and dependant. Thus is easy to understand. Once you have clearly understood the axes you have to make the Y axis the dependant variable and X the independent one.

Then the name of the graph becomes ,

Dependant variable vs Independent variable.

For instance consider the Distance vs Time graph. We see that Distance depends on how long has the time passed. Thus D becomes the dependant variable


Another way to think of it is "Y" as a function of "X". For example, "Distance as a function of time" or "Distance vs. Time".


A x vs y graph would ensure that the x axis is filled with fixed variables (quantities that do not change throughout the experiment, eg Time intervals) whereas in the y axis, you would intend to fill in the values that change during the experiment, eg number of observations. I hope this helps

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    $\begingroup$ Do you really say x vs y? I'm more familiar with y vs x, as outlined in the answer of slhulk. $\endgroup$ – Klaus-Dieter Warzecha Mar 28 '17 at 9:04

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