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Appropriate way to label axes of graphs

March 14, 2010 Filed under Blog, Posters, Presentations, Resources, Uncategorized, Writing 

Prof. Brian Fiedler of the University of Oklahoma recently published an article in Physics Education calling for a change in direction in teaching dimensionless ratios in physics. As he advocates,

The tick marks [on an axis of a graph] are pure numbers. Labels with a solidus such as R/µm are orthodox notation for what the numbers represent. Labels such as R (µm) are understood by us not to be consistent with standard mathematical notation, R is not multiplying µm. Rather, (µm) is a parenthetical remark, shadowing our informality when we say ‘is in microns’.

Fiedler, B. H., 2010: How do we really compute with units? Phys. Educ., 45(2), 167–172.

Thanks to Evgeni Fedorovich for pointing out this article to me.

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