python plotting with greek symbols within labels recommendations?

Robert Kern robert.kern at
Wed Oct 5 02:02:00 CEST 2005

michael.s.gilbert at wrote:
> hello all,
> this message is geared toward those of you in the scientific community.
> i'm looking for a python plotting library that can support rendering
> greek symbols and other various characters on plot axes labels, etc. I
> would prefer something that adheres to tex formatting (as implemented
> in latex, matlab, etc and has the form $\alpha$ to represent the greek
> character alpha for example).
> thus far, i've found that matplotlib
> ( can do this, albeit the
> implementation is so poor that you cannot mix standard text with
> symbols on the same plot element.

You can if you have TeX installed and enable text.usetex in your
configuration. E.g.

In [4]: title('This is $\Gamma$reek to me.')

There isn't much out there that allows a reasonably full range of TeX
without calling out to TeX.

If you want to improve the non-TeX fallback for matplotlib's mathtext
module to support math-mode text embedded in plain text, I'm sure John
would love to see your contribution. It shouldn't be that hard; it's
just nobody's had the motivation to work on it given the availability of
real TeX labels.

Robert Kern
rkern at

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
 Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
  -- Richard Harter

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