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Box-and-Whisker plot

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Next selectBox-and-Whisker plot


The Box-and-Whisker plot (Tukey, 1977), or boxplot, displays a statistical summary of a variable: median, quartiles, range and possibly extreme values.

For a detailed description of a Box-and-Whisker plot, see Construction of a Box-and-Whisker plot.

Required input

The dialog box for Box-and-Whisker plot is similar to the one for Summary statistics:

Box-and-whisker plot - dialog box

If the data require a logarithmic transformation, then select the Logarithmic transformation option.

You can choose between vertical and horizontal orientation of the Box-and-Whisker plot.


This is the Box-and-Whisker plot for the variable Weight:

Box-and-whisker plot

In the Box-and-whisker plot, the central box represents the values from the lower to upper quartile (25 to 75 percentile). The middle line represents the median. The horizontal line extends from the minimum to the maximum value, excluding outside and far out values which are displayed as separate points.

As an option, you may select to plot all individual data points. This enables you to obtain a diagram representing a statistical summary of the data without the disadvantage of concealing the real data.

Box-and-whisker plot

When you click an individual observation in the graph, the corresponding case is identified in a pop-up window (see also Select variable for case identification command). If you double-click an observation, the spreadsheet window will open with the corresponding case highlighted. If the value is an outlier, you can exclude the value or the entire case from further statistical analysis by clicking Exclude on the Tools menu.

For multiple box-and-whisker plots see Multiple comparison graphs and Multiple variables graphs.

Presentation of results

The description of the data (summary statistics) in the text or table may be complemented by a graphical representation of the data: either a histogram, cumulative distribution or box-and-whisker plot. The histogram is not very effective to display location and spread. The cumulative distribution has the advantage that it makes it easy to estimate the median (or other percentile) by reading off the horizontal value at which the curve attains 50% (or other percentage) (Moses, 1987). Secondly, the plot can contain the individual observations (cumulative dot plot). Finally, the box-and-whisker plot may be preferable because it can combine a display of all the data together with a statistical summary.


More Box-and-Whisker plots including notched Box-and-Whisker plots

See also

Recommended book

Book cover

Exploratory Data Analysis
John W. Tukey

Buy from Amazon

The approach in this introductory book is that of informal study of the data. Methods range from plotting picture-drawing techniques to rather elaborate numerical summaries. Several of the methods are the original creations of the author, and all can be carried out either with pencil or aided by hand-held calculator.