Discontinuous x axis with pgfplots

Having a discontinuous y axis is common and Stackoverflow has a few solutions for that. I wanted an x axis with a gap (values 0-10 plus value 20). So this is what I did.

I create an axis from 0 to 12 and give 12 the label “20”. I add an extra tick on the x-axis at about halfway between 10 and “12”, where I want the gap and make it thick and white – basically I want a break in the axis. Then over that break I draw the “label” of this tick, which is two vertical lines at an angle, symbolizing the discontinuity. The relevant part of the style:

xmin=0,
xmax=12.5, 
xticklabels={0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 20},
extra x ticks={11.1},
extra x tick style={grid=none, tick style={white, very thick}, tick label style={xshift=0cm,yshift=.50cm, rotate=-20}},
extra x tick label={\color{black}{/\!\!/}},

And then I add the data with x-values 20 at x-coordinate “12”:

\addplot coordinates {
(0, 43.3) (1, 43.2) (2, 43.3) (3, 42.9) (4, 42.1) (5, 41.4) 
(6, 41.2) (7, 41.7) (8, 41.7) (9, 42.1) (10, 42.1) }; 
\pgfplotsset{cycle list shift=-1}
\addplot coordinates { (12, 43.8) };
\draw[dotted] (axis cs:10, 42.1) -- (axis cs:12, 43.8);

Adding the last point separately from the rest of the data serves the purpose that I can draw the dotted line by hand. cycle list shift=-1 causes the new “plot” to have the same style as the previous. There might be a way of doing this, but this works.

Hat tip: Stackoverflow, but I currently cannot find the question(s) and answer(s) that helped me solve this. Still, thank you, anonymous people.

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About swk

I am a computational linguist, teacher of computer science and above all a huge fan of LaTeX. I use LaTeX for everything, including things you never wanted to do with LaTeX. My latest love is lilypond, aka LaTeX for music. I'll post at irregular intervals about cool stuff, stupid hacks and annoying settings I want to remember for the future.