Stem Plot

The Stem Plot tool allows for a simple way of visualising the distribution of values within a column. The “Stem” in the graph represents the largest magnitude component of the values, while the “leaf” represents the lowest magnitude. For example, in the range of values of 34, 45, 42, 48, 31, and 51, the stems would be 3, 4 and 5, (representing the stems of 30, 40, and 50), while their corresponding leaves would be the single digits: 4, 5, 2, 8, 1 and 1 respectively.


To demonstrate the tool’s use, we will look at some ABS data relating to household disadvantage in Western Australia.

  • Select Western Australia as your area.
  • Select ABS – Index of Household Advantage and Disadvantage (IHAD) (LGA) 2016 as your dataset with the following variables:
    • LGA Code 2017.
    • LGA Name 2017.
    • Percentage of HouseHolds In The IHAD (a): Quartile 4.


Once you have selected these, open the Stem Plot tool (Tools → Charts → Stem Plot) and enter the parameters as in the image shown below.

  • Dataset Input: Select the dataset that you would like to run the Stem Plot tool for. Select ABS – Index of Household Advantage and Disadvantage (IHAD) (LGA) 2016.
  • Variable: Select the variables that you would to include in the plot. Select Percentage Of Households in The IHAD (a): Quartile 4.
  • Chart Title: Enter a title for your graph. Type Stem Plot of Households in the 4th Quartile of IHAD (LGA).
  • Greyscale: Check this box if you would like your graph in greyscale. Untick this box.

Once you have entered your parameters, click Run Tool.


Once your graph tool has run, click the Display Output button that appears on the pop-up dialogue box. Your graph should look something like the image shown below:

We can see that the occurrence of households in LGAs of Western Australia residing in the 4th Quartile of the index of Household Disadvantage is between 10% and 19.9%.

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