Posted on July 10, 2014 by Dr. Saeid Nourian

Plotting points from csv files should be a simple task but there are very few programs out there that can do it well. Most available programs are either too limiting or too complex to use. Graphing Calculator 3D falls in a perfect middle where it's both capable and easy to use.

There are two kinds of csv files that you may want to import:

- Those that have one coordinate per row;
- Those that have one coordinate per grid.

Graphing Calculator 3D supports both of them.

Your csv file may contain one or more rows, each representing a single coordinate point. Depending on how many columns your file has and which Draw Attribute settings you selected in Graphing Calculator, these rows of coordinates may translate to:

- (x,y)
- (θ,r)
- (x,y,z)
- (θ,φ,r)
- (θ,z,r)

If you need to have more control over which columns should represent which coordinate values then make sure that you csv file has a header row with the following possible headers for each column:

- x
- y
- z
- theta
- phi
- height
- r

First ensure that under Draw Attribute you select "Cartesian" as coordinates. In addition, if you intend to plot 3D cartesian coordinates select "3D" as graph type, otherwise select 2D.

Then you need a csv file that has 3 columns of numbers that represent (x,y,z) coordinates (shown on right), or 2 columns that represent (x,y) coordinates.

When ready, import the csv file by clicking on the open button on the toolbar directly above the table of values. (Note: Do not confuse the import open button with the main file open icon that is located directly above the equations).

The points will be plotted for you as soon as you import them. In 3D mode, you can rotate the graph with your mouse to look at the cluster of 3D points from any angle you wish.

If a header row is missing the program assumes that the first column is x, second column is y, and so on. To have more control over that add a header row (first row) that clearly indicate which columns are x, y or z as shown here:

Select "2D" graph and "Polar" coordinates. Then import a csv file that has two columns that represent (θ,r).

If you want to tell the program which column represent which data then
add a header row with *theta* and *r* values as shown on
the right.

Select "3D" graph and "Cylindrical" coordinates. Then import a csv file that has three columns that represent (θ,z,r).

If you want to tell the program which column represent which data then
add a header row with *theta*, *height* and *r*
values as shown here:

Select "3D" graph and "Spherical" coordinates. Then import a csv file that has three columns that represent (θ,φ,r).

If you want to tell the program which column represent which data then
add a header row with *theta*, *phi* and *r* values
similar to cylindrical example.

The above examples shows csv files that have a single coordinate per row. But it is also possible to import csv files that have a single coordinate per grid. The program can automatically extract the z value from the grids and assume that the x value is the value shown in the first column and the y value is the value shown in the first (header) row.

In the above example column A are the x values and row 1 are the y values. From cell B2 the program extracts (0,0,0) coordinate. From cell D3 the program extracts (1,2,3) coordinate and so on:

- (0,0,0)
- (1,0,1)
- (2,0,3)
- (3,0,0)
- (4,0,0)
- (5,0,0)
- (0,1,0)
- (1,1,2)
- ...

When importing the above csv file the program will prompt you whether each grid or each row represent a coordinate. Click Yes to select each grid.

You can purchase 3D Graphing Calculator if you haven't done so already and try importing your own csv files.