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When the question asks to plot $a$ against $b$, which value should go on which axis?

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One of them goes on each axis. Instruct the reader to turn the paper 90° if he would like it the opposite way around. – Henning Makholm Sep 7 '12 at 14:33
@Henning ... the reader may also need a mirror. :-) – Willie Wong Sep 7 '12 at 14:54
up vote 6 down vote accepted

In my experience, the sentence

Plot $y$ versus $x$

means that $y$ is considered as a dependent variable, and $x$ as an independent variable. So $y$ goes on the vertical axis.

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