Map Axes

Four axes are automatically created for each map in Surfer . Axes are named by their relative positions on the map and are called the Left Axis, Right Axis, Top Axis, and Bottom Axis. The Left Axis and Right Axis are Y axes, and the Top Axis and Bottom Axis are X axes. 3D wireframe and 3D surface maps also have a single Z Axis. Variograms and profiles have two axes with the default names of X Axis and Y Axis.

By default, axis limits match the X, Y limits of the grid file, boundary file, or data file used to create the map. When a map is first created, the Left Axis and Bottom Axis display major ticks and tick labels, and the Top Axis and Right Axis display only major ticks. The tick spacing is automatically scaled so a reasonable number of ticks are drawn along each axis. Tick scaling and label format parameters can be independently specified for the axes on the map. By default, axes start with the lowest value at the bottom of Y axes and increase up and the lowest value at the left side of X axes and increase to the right. Axes can be reversed so that the small value is at the top of the Y axis or at the right side of the X axis. Axes can show numbers or date/time values.

This is a contour map with the four axes

labeled with their default names.

This 3D surface map contains a Z axis in addition to the X and Y axes. 3D wireframe maps also contain a Z axis.

Editing Axes

To edit an axis, click on the axis to select it. The axis properties are listed in the Properties window on the General, Ticks, Scaling, Grid Lines, and Info tabs.

Axis Visibility

When the map, variogram, or profile is created, the axes are displayed automatically. You can turn off the display of any or all of the axes on the map by enabling the visibility of the axis with the Contents window. Click the check box adjacent to the axis name to turn on or off the axis. On a 3D wireframe or 3D surface, only the Left Axis, Bottom Axis, and Z Axis are initially visible.

Axis Position

Individual axes cannot be moved with the mouse, but you can position axes relative to the map layers on the Scaling page in the axis properties. Open the axis properties by clicking on the axis name in the Contents window.


Map axes can display both major and minor ticks. Major ticks can display tick labels. Minor ticks are displayed at regular intervals between major ticks, and do not have associated tick labels. When tick labels are displayed, all major ticks along the axis are represented with a label. The display of tick marks is controlled from the Ticks page in the axis properties. The spacing of the major ticks along the axis is controlled from the Scaling page in the axis properties. Major tick labels are controlled by the Labels group on the General page in the axis properties.

On this axis, four minor ticks are included with every major tick.

Selecting an Axis

Click an axis in the Contents window or plot window to select it. When selecting in the plot window, place the pointer on the tick marks or tick labels when clicking. Hollow blue circle handles appear at each end of the axis. Because the axes are part of the map on which they are drawn, the eight solid green square handles appear around the entire map. In addition, the name of the axis is displayed in the middle left side of the status bar. For example, if you select the bottom axis of a contour map, the text in the status bar appears as "Map: Bottom Axis." The axis is also highlighted in the Contents window. The properties for the axis are shown in the Properties window.

When an axis is selected, blue circle handles appear at the ends of the axis (shown on the bottom axis on this map) and green square handles appear around the entire map.

The selected map axis is highlighted in the Contents window. The axes checked are displayed on the map.

Other Axis Features

Other axis features are axis titles and grid lines. Axis titles can be placed on any of the axes and are drawn in relation to the associated axis. Grid lines are drawn at the same position as the axis tick marks.

Adding Additional Axes to Map

Click the Map Tools | Add to Map | Axis command or the button to add any number of:

  • Left Axes
  • Right Axes ,
  • Top Axes ,
  • Bottom Axes , or
  • Z Axes ,

to your current map. Alternatively, right-click on an existing map and click Add to Map to add a map layer, axis, or scale bar.

Click on the axis to display the axis properties in the Properties window. The position of the axis is changed by changing the Crosses At value on the Scaling page.

See Also

Axis General Properties

Axis Grid Lines Properties

Axis Labels Properties

Axis Scaling Properties

Axis Ticks Properties