Displaying Text in MATLAB - A Comprehensive Guide and Applications

This article will guide you through various approaches for rendering text within the MATLAB environment. We will delve into several methods to create attractive text displays using MATLAB functions, m …

Updated October 20, 2023

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This article will guide you through various approaches for rendering text within the MATLAB environment. We will delve into several methods to create attractive text displays using MATLAB functions, making use of its inherent strengths in programming and visualization to effectively communicate your data analysis findings or simply present your ideas. Furthermore, we’ll cover some practical applications and provide you with a clear understanding on how to incorporate these techniques into your daily workflow.


MATLAB is an excellent platform for creating interactive and informative plots, charts, and visuals that can make it easy to comprehend data or communicate ideas effectively. One important aspect of this communication is displaying textual content in a visually appealing way. In this article, we will explore various methods for displaying text within the MATLAB environment, focusing on different aspects such as font properties, formatting options, and incorporating text into plots and figures.

  1. Basic Text Display To begin with the fundamentals of rendering text in MATLAB, start by creating a new script or function file:
% Create a new script or function

Inside this script, we will include some lines of code that demonstrate how to display different types of text within the MATLAB environment.

Displaying a Single Text String To showcase a basic string, simply type your desired text inside two single quotes:

% Display a simple text string
textStr = 'This is an example of displaying text in MATLAB';
  1. Modifying Font Properties Choosing appropriate fonts and their properties can greatly enhance the appearance and readability of your text. MATLAB provides several built-in font options that can be easily customized:

a) Setting Font Type and Size Use the fontsize() function to define the font size for a given string. The default font type is normally ‘Normal’, but it’s also possible to specify other fonts like ‘Times New Roman’, ‘Arial’, or ‘Courier’. For example, set the text to 12-point Arial font:

% Set font type and size
fontSize = 12;
textStr = 'This is an example of displaying text in MATLAB';
textWithFont = fontsize(textStr,fontSize,'Arial');

b) Changing Text Color MATLAB offers a range of color options using the colormap() function. Apply different colors to your text by defining the desired colormap and passing it to your text string:

% Change text color
blueText = textWithFont;
greenText = fontsize(textStr,fontSize,'Arial',blueText);
redText = fontsize(textStr,fontSize,'Arial',greenText);

c) Bold and Italicized Fonts To achieve a bolder or more italicized look for your text, use the bold() and italic() functions respectively:

% Apply bold and italic font styles
boldText = fontsize(textStr,fontSize,'Arial',blueText);
italicText = fontsize(textStr,fontSize,'Arial',redText);
displayedBoldItalicText = [boldText itailicText];
  1. Adding Text to Plots and Figures MATLAB provides a variety of ways to incorporate text into plots and figures. This can be useful for labeling axes, adding legends, or displaying data points as text.

a) Using the Text Function The text() function allows you to place text anywhere within your plot window by specifying its coordinates:

% Place text on a plot using the 'text' function
x = -10:0.5:10;
y = x.^2;
hold on
axis([-10 10 -10 10]);
text(-3,-10,'This is an example of displaying text in MATLAB');

b) Using the Plot Label Function You can also use plot()’s label parameter to add a title or description to your plot:

% Add text as a plot label using 'plot' function
x = -10:0.5:10;
y = x.^2;
plot(x,y,'title','Displaying Text in MATLAB');
  1. Handling Multi-Line Text and Wrap Length There are cases where you need to display multiple lines of text. The textarea() function can be used for rendering text with line breaks or setting a wrap length:
% Display multi-line text using 'textarea' function
textStr = ['This is an example',...
          'of displaying text',...
          'in MATLAB where we have several lines of text.'];

In this case, the textarea() function displays the given string and breaks it into two lines after reaching a maximum width of 20 characters. The first argument get(gca,'xtick') and get(gca,'ytick') refer to the current axis limits of the plot, which are calculated automatically within your figure.

Applications of Text Display in MATLAB

  1. Creating visually engaging reports and presentations: Use the techniques mentioned above to enhance the appearance of written content within your MATLAB-based presentations or reports, improving readability and clarity.
  2. Analyzing and visualizing text data: Utilize text analysis tools like word clouds or topic models to summarize large volumes of textual data into concise representations.
  3. Creating interactive user interfaces: Incorporate text within MATLAB apps by leveraging the uicontrol() function for customizable, responsive graphical elements.
  4. Educational resources and tutorials: Combine text display with images or visual aids to create effective instructional materials that are both informative and easy to understand.
  5. Automating documentation generation: Utilize MATLAB’s scripting capabilities to automatically generate technical reports, code comments, or project summaries from your program’s results.

Conclusion MATLAB offers powerful tools and features for efficiently rendering text in various formats, making it an essential platform for creating visually appealing presentations and communicating data analysis findings. By mastering these techniques, you can enhance the effectiveness of your work and boost creativity when crafting solutions that address complex problems.