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The Best Graphing Software for Your Math Classroom

What's the best graphing software for your math classroom? You probably think I'm going to say Desmos. I am not. I like Desmos. Desmos definitely has its place in my classroom, but Desmos is a calculator - its main intention is not for printing. More about Desmos later.

The BEST Graphing Software for Your Math Classroom is Autograph.

Update, July 2021: Autograph now has a Web version and a Windows version (sorry, Mac users). You can read more here:

Update October 2023: A close second for creating graphs and blank coordinate planes is I still go to Autograph for advanced topics (polar graphs, area between curves, volumes of revolution), but if I am graphing a polynomial or other simple function, I will use graphfree.

Autograph 5 software is FREE. It is, hands down, the best software on the market for making graphs and grids to put into your worksheets, presentations, and assessments.
I used it to make part of my Logo (scroll to the very bottom of this page to see my logo).

Here are some example graphs that I made using Autograph:

How is this different than Desmos?
Desmos is primarily a calculator. Yes, you can add screenshots of graphs or grids from Desmos into your document, but you are not going to get as many options for setting up your axes and the overall look of the graph as you do in Autograph.

Autograph can do some calculations for you, too. For example, you can easily find the points of intersection of two functions. You can quickly find the area under a curve or the volume of a solid of revolution.

How are Autograph and Desmos similar?
Both are excellent teaching tools. In both programs, you can add a slider and see how a graph changes when a parameter is changed (for example, in y = mx+b, how does the graph change as m changes). To be honest, the only time I use Autograph as a teaching tool is when I am teaching the area between curves or volumes of solids of revolution in my Calculus class.

There is a turtle icon at the top for Slow Plot. 

The turtle allows you to watch the graph appear slowly. Below you can see the volume of revolution appears slowly because I used the Slow Plot feature.

3 Dimensions!
Yes, as you can see in the gif above, I graphed that parabola in 3 dimensions. I hid the z-axis and plotted the parabola as a 2D equation.

Caution: it gets quite addicting once you start playing with graphs in 3 dimensions!

Why have you never heard of Autograph?
Well, only you can answer that question. :-) The man who created this software is British and the company that now owns the software is based in London. The original creator is a former math teacher who worked with a computer software engineer to make the software. I met him at a workshop that I attended in 2006 when I worked in Switzerland. This was long before Desmos came along.

Desmos now is a household name in most math classrooms, but rarely do I meet anyone who has heard of Autograph.

What else can Autograph do?
Autograph has features that I don't use often, but they are definitely worth checking out:
For example, you can graph in a complex plane and you can plot, calculate, and graph one-variable statistics!

How do I learn more?
The company that owns Autograph has a few helpful video tutorials on YouTube.

You may be also interested in How to Make Diagrams for your Geometry Class

Have you tried Autograph? What do you use to make grids and graphs for your documents? Join my Facebook group and let me know.