Everything You Need to Know About Boxplot

Harshit Ahluwalia 10 Feb, 2024
3 min read


In the world of data analysis and statistics, visualizations play a crucial role in understanding the underlying patterns and outliers within datasets. One such powerful visualization tool is the boxplot, a box-and-whisker plot. It summarises one or more data sets based on the five-number summary: minimum, first quartile (Q1), median, third quartile (Q3), and maximum. In this article, we’ll discuss what boxplots are, their components, how to create them in Python using matplotlib, and how to interpret them with a real-world dataset example.

Explanation of the Components of a Boxplot

  • Median (Q2/50th Percentile): The middle value of the dataset.
  • Quartiles: The dataset is divided into four equal parts. The first quartile (Q1) is the 25th percentile, the second quartile(Q2) is the 50th percentile, and the third quartile (Q3) is the 75th percentile.
  • Whiskers: These lines extend from the quartiles to the rest of the dataset, excluding outliers, and typically represent 1.5 times the interquartile range (IQR) above and below the first and third quartiles.
  • Outliers: Data points outside the whiskers are considered outliers and are usually plotted as individual points.

For more clarification, you can see the image attached below: 

boxplot | boxplot in python | boxplot python

Types of Data Suitable for Boxplot Visualization

Boxplots are ideal for comparing distributions between several groups or datasets. They are handy for visualizing the spread and skewness of data and identifying outliers. Boxplots can be used with continuous and discrete data, making them versatile for various applications.

Importing Necessary Libraries

Before we start plotting, we need to import the necessary libraries. Matplotlib is the primary library we will use to plot boxplots. Additionally, pandas will be used for loading and manipulating data.

Loading Data Using Pandas

Loading data is straightforward with pandas. Whether your data is in a CSV, Excel file, or another format, pandas can handle it. Here’s how to load data from a CSV file:

Plot Using Matplotlib

Basic Matplotlib Syntax for Plotting Boxplots

Matplotlib makes plotting boxplots straightforward.

matplotlib syntax for plotting boxplot | boxplot in python | boxplot python

Customizing the Boxplot (Colors, Labels)

You can customize your boxplot in various ways to make it more informative:

customising the boxplot | boxplot in python | boxplot python

Read More: How to create a Box-Plot chart in QlikView?

Analyzing and Interpreting Boxplots

When analyzing a boxplot, focus on the following:

  • The median indicates the middle value of the dataset.
  • The spread of the quartiles (Q3-Q1) shows the variability of the data.
  • Whiskers provide insight into the range of the data.
  • Outliers may indicate data variability or errors.


Boxplots are invaluable in exploratory data analysis, offering a compact representation of data distributions. Understanding and utilizing them lets you quickly identify your dataset’s central tendencies, variability, and potential outliers. With the practical example provided, you can now apply boxplot visualizations.

Harshit Ahluwalia 10 Feb, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

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