How to Draw Reference Lines in an XRD-type Spectrum Graph

Researchers who deal with the X-ray Diffraction (XRD) spectrum, though not limited to, often need to show the multiple stacked curves to compare the corresponding peaks at the common X positions (wave length, time, etc.). A vertical line is utilized to explore or examine the peaks, or to tag it as a reference line. Two samples of such graphs (from the same data) are shown below. This blog shows how to create such graphs and how to operate the vertical lines.










As shown in above samples, Origin provides two types of graphs in such graphing application. One is a Stack graph at left, which is a multi-panel (multi-layer) graph. The other is the Stacked Lines by Y Offsets (hereafter let us call Y Offset Stacked Lines) at right, which is a single-layer graph where multiple plots are contained in a single layer frame, (Origin smartly separates each other not to be overlapped by adding a distinct Y offset to each curve.)

Now let us describe the procedure how to make and operate these sample graphs. (You can download this Origin file to try the steps by yourself.)

  1. Have your data in a single sheet in either XYYY…  or XYXYXY… format. Origin can accept either column  structure.
  2. Highlight all columns, and if you want to create a Stack graph, choose “Plot> Multi-Panel> Stack” menu. If  you want to make a Y Offset Stacked Line, choose “Plot> Multi-Y> Stacked Line by Y Offsets” menu.
    ==> Now you get the graph of the graph type your chose.
  3. Choose “Gadgets> Vertical Cursor” menu. This creates a red vertical bar with tabs at the both ends, as well as a table to show the bar’s X position and the corresponding Y values of the curves.  You notice that:
    (1)  You can move the bar’s tab to right or left, the table’s values would change dynamically accordingly. The Y value (actual, without offset) of each curve are also shown. (This can be controlled by pressing the Options button (third from right), choose “Labels and Tags” tab, and selecting option at “Labels> Label Form” branch.)
    (2)  If you want to move the cursor to the exact specific X position, you can enter the value to the text field at the right of “X=” button  near the top, and press the “Move Cursor to X” (RUNNER) button. The cursor moves to the specified position.
    (3)  If you want to leave a reference line at the position of the red cursor, press the “Add Tag & Label” (YELLOW PRICE TAB) button (top leftmost).
    (4)  If you want to output the table value in a report worksheet, press the Output Report (REPORT PAPER) button. The output accumulates into the same worksheet.
    (5)  If you click the Graph Linking  (PAIR of TWO GRAPHS) button, you can link to the other graphs in the project. That is, if you move the vertical cursor, the cursor values at its position in the linked graphs will be also reported in the tool. Furthermore, if you tag a cursor, the cursors will be also placed in the linked graphs.


  1. Even if the panels in a Stack graph are (re-)arranged in NxM format instead of the Stack graph’s (i.e. Nx1) format (by e.g., Layer Management tool), you can still use the Vertical Cursor gadget. For example, to use the Vertical Cursor on 4-layer graph in 2×2 arrangement, Vertical cursor’s position scale is based on the initial active layer. So, if you want to put two Vertical Cursors at layer-1&3 at left, and layer-2&4 at right, create a Vertical Cursor when layer-1(top left) is active, move and leave the tag and label there; then close Vertical Cursor tool, activate layer-2(top right), and create the second Vertical Cursor, and leave the tag.
  2. In the above samples, the shapes of the first curve (20%) in Stack graph and Stacked Lines with Y Offset are quite different.This happened because each panel in the Stack graph can be rescaled individually. In contrast, all plots in a Stacked Lines by Y Offsets are within a single scale of the layer.
  3. The following video tutorials would be also useful to learn how to use the Vertical Cursor gadget:
    [Basic Operations of V. Cursor]:
    [How to Operate Graph Linking]:


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