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Speaking Stata: Front-and-back plots to ease spaghetti and paella problems

Cox, Nicholas J.

Speaking Stata: Front-and-back plots to ease spaghetti and paella problems Thumbnail



The spaghetti problem arises in graphics when multiple time series or other functional traces show mostly a tangled mess. The related paella problem (often experienced but not usually named as such) arises for multiple patterns combined in scatterplots. This column is a sequel to those in Stata Journal 10: 670–681 (2010) and 19: 989–1008 (2019). The focus is on what are here called front-and-back plots, in which each subset of data is shown separately with the other subsets as backdrop. The strategy is thus a hybrid of two more common strategies, showing each subset separately (juxtaposing) and showing subsets together (superimposing). A new command, fabplot, is introduced and used in examples.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 31, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 29, 2021
Publication Date Jun 1, 2021
Deposit Date Aug 27, 2021
Publicly Available Date Aug 27, 2021
Journal The Stata Journal: Promoting communications on statistics and Stata
Print ISSN 1536-867X
Electronic ISSN 1536-8734
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 539-554
Public URL


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Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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