Stem-and-Leaf Graphs (Stemplots)

Learning Outcomes

  • Display data graphically and interpret graphs: stemplots, histograms, and box plots.

One simple graph, the stem-and-leaf graph or stemplot, comes from the field of exploratory data analysis. It is a good choice when the data sets are small. To create the plot, divide each observation of data into a stem and a leaf. The leaf consists of a final significant digit. For example, 23 has stem two and leaf three. The number 432 has stem 43 and leaf two. Likewise, the number 5,432 has stem 543 and leaf two. The decimal 9.3 has stem nine and leaf three. Write the stems in a vertical line from smallest to largest. Draw a vertical line to the right of the stems. Then write the leaves in increasing order next to their corresponding stem.

For Susan Dean’s spring pre-calculus class, scores for the first exam were as follows (smallest to largest):
33; 42; 49; 49; 53; 55; 55; 61; 63; 67; 68; 68; 69; 69; 72; 73; 74; 78; 80; 83; 88; 88; 88; 90; 92; 94; 94; 94; 94; 96; 100Stem-and-Leaf Graph

Stem Leaf
3 3
4 2 9 9
5 3 5 5
6 1 3 7 8 8 9 9
7 2 3 4 8
8 0 3 8 8 8
9 0 2 4 4 4 4 6
10 0

The stemplot shows that most scores fell in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Eight out of the 31 scores or approximately 26% were in the 90s or 100, a fairly high number of As.

try it

For the Park City basketball team, scores for the last 30 games were as follows (smallest to largest):

32; 32; 33; 34; 38; 40; 42; 42; 43; 44; 46; 47; 47; 48; 48; 48; 49; 50; 50; 51; 52; 52; 52; 53; 54; 56; 57; 57; 60; 61

Construct a stem plot for the data.

Stem Leaf
3 2 2 3 4 8
4 0 2 2 3 4 6 7 7 8 8 8 9
5 0 0 1 2 2 2 3 4 6 7 7
6 0 1

The stemplot is a quick way to graph data and gives an exact picture of the data.

try it

The following data show the distances (in miles) from the homes of off-campus statistics students to the college. Create a stem plot using the data and identify any outliers:

0.5; 0.7; 1.1; 1.2; 1.2; 1.3; 1.3; 1.5; 1.5; 1.7; 1.7; 1.8; 1.9; 2.0; 2.2; 2.5; 2.6; 2.8; 2.8; 2.8; 3.5; 3.8; 4.4; 4.8; 4.9; 5.2; 5.5; 5.7; 5.8; 8.0

Stem Leaf
0 5 7
1 1 2 2 3 3 5 5 7 7 8 9
2 0 2 5 6 8 8 8
3 5 8
4 4 8 9
5 2 5 7 8
6
7
8 0

The value 8.0 may be an outlier. Values appear to concentrate at one and two miles.

Watch this video to see an example of how to create a stem plot.

Example

A side-by-side stem-and-leaf plot allows a comparison of the two data sets in two columns. In a side-by-side stem-and-leaf plot, two sets of leaves share the same stem. The leaves are to the left and the right of the stems. The two following tables show the ages of presidents at their inauguration and at their death. Construct a side-by-side stem-and-leaf plot using this data.

Presidential Ages at Inauguration:

President Age President Age President Age
Washington 57 Lincoln 52 Hoover 54
J. Adams 61 A. Johnson 56 F. Roosevelt 51
Jefferson 57 Grant 46 Truman 60
Madison 57 Hayes 54 Eisenhower 62
Monroe 58 Garfield 49 Kennedy 43
J. Q. Adams 57 Arthur 51 L. Johnson 55
Jackson 61 Cleveland 47 Nixon 56
Van Buren 54 B. Harrison 55 Ford 61
W. H. Harrison 68 Cleveland 55 Carter 52
Tyler 51 McKinley 54 Reagan 69
Polk 49 T. Roosevelt 42 G.H.W. Bush 64
Taylor 64 Taft 51 Clinton 47
Fillmore 50 Wilson 56 G. W. Bush 54
Pierce 48 Harding 55 Obama 47
Buchanan 65 Coolidge 51

Presidential Age at Death:

President Age President Age President Age
Washington 67 Lincoln 56 Hoover 90
J. Adams 90 A. Johnson 66 F. Roosevelt 63
Jefferson 83 Grant 63 Truman 88
Madison 85 Hayes 70 Eisenhower 78
Monroe 73 Garfield 49 Kennedy 46
J. Q. Adams 80 Arthur 56 L. Johnson 64
Jackson 78 Cleveland 71 Nixon 81
Van Buren 79 B. Harrison 67 Ford 93
W. H. Harrison 68 Cleveland 71 Reagan 93
Tyler 71 McKinley 58
Polk 53 T. Roosevelt 60
Taylor 65 Taft 72
Fillmore 74 Wilson 67
Pierce 64 Harding 57
Buchanan 77 Coolidge 60

Example

The table shows the number of wins and losses the Atlanta Hawks have had in 42 seasons. Create a side-by-side stem-and-leaf plot of these wins and losses.

Losses Wins Year Losses Wins Year
34 48 1968–1969 41 41 1989–1990
34 48 1969–1970 39 43 1990–1991
46 36 1970–1971 44 38 1991–1992
46 36 1971–1972 39 43 1992–1993
36 46 1972–1973 25 57 1993–1994
47 35 1973–1974 40 42 1994–1995
51 31 1974–1975 36 46 1995–1996
53 29 1975–1976 26 56 1996–1997
51 31 1976–1977 32 50 1997–1998
41 41 1977–1978 19 31 1998–1999
36 46 1978–1979 54 28 1999–2000
32 50 1979–1980 57 25 2000–2001
51 31 1980–1981 49 33 2001–2002
40 42 1981–1982 47 35 2002–2003
39 43 1982–1983 54 28 2003–2004
42 40 1983–1984 69 13 2004–2005
48 34 1984–1985 56 26 2005–2006
32 50 1985–1986 52 30 2006–2007
25 57 1986–1987 45 37 2007–2008
32 50 1987–1988 35 47 2008–2009
30 52 1988–1989 29 53 2009–2010

Solution:

Number of Losses

Atlanta Hawks Wins and Losses
Number of Wins
3 1 9
9 8 8 6 5 2 5 5 9
8 7 6 6 5 5 4 3 1 1 1 1 0 3 0 2 2 2 2 4 4 5 6 6 6 9 9 9
8 8 7 6 6 6 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 4 0 0 1 1 2 4 5 6 6 7 7 8 9
7 7 6 3 2 0 0 0 0 5 1 1 1 2 3 4 4 6 7
6 9