Scientists Say: Y-axis

This little line can tell you a lot about what is on your graph

In this graph, the y axis on the left shows that the candy was measured in grams.

B. Brookshire/SSP

Y-axis (noun, “Why AXE-iss”)

A vertical line on a graph. It can be located to the right or left, or even in the middle. Scientists label the y-axis with whatever they are measuring. Perhaps it is time, or a population, or grams of a substance. The y-axis and its horizontal partner, the x-axis, tell us what data presented in the graph represents.

In a sentence

When trying to float a candy bar, my graph of the results showed the mass of the candy on the y-axis.

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Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

axis   The line about which something rotates. On a wheel, the axis would go straight through the center and stick out on either side. (in mathematics) An axis is a line to the side or bottom of a graph; it is labeled to explain the graph’s meaning and the units of measurement.

x-axis   (in mathematics) The horizontal line at the bottom of a graph, which can be labeled to give information about what the graph represents.

y-axis   (in mathematics) The vertical line to the left or right of a graph, which can be labeled to give information about what the graph represents.

Bethany is the staff writer at Science News for Students. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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