Reading Off the Cartesian Coordinates of a Point
(KS2, Year 6)

The Lesson

The Cartesian coordinates of a point can be read off from a graph.

How to Read Off the Cartesian Coordinates of a Point

Reading off the Cartesian coordinates of a point is easy.

Question

What are the Cartesian coordinates of the point shown on the graph below.

Step-by-Step:

1

Read off how far across the point is along the horizontal x-axis. We see that the point is 2 units along the x-axis. 2 is the x-coordinate of the point.

Note: The x-axis is labelled with numbers (0, 1, 2, 3...) so you can measure how far across the point is.

2

Read off how far up the point is along the vertical y-axis. We see that the point is 4 units up the y-axis. 4 is the y-coordinate of the point.

Note: The y-axis is labelled with numbers (0, 1, 2, 3...) so you can measure how far up the point is.

3

Write down the Cartesian coordinates as a pair of numbers in brackets, separated by a comma. The x-coordinate (2) found in Step 1 goes on the left. The y-coordinate (4) found in Step 2 goes on the right.

Answer:

Lesson Slides

With practice, you'll be able to read off the Cartesian coordinates of a point from by eye. The slider below gives another example of how to read off the Cartesian coordinates of a point on a graph. Open the slider in a new tab

Beware

Positive and Negative Coordinates

The pair of numbers in Cartesian coordinates the can be positive and negative.

  • The x-axis is labelled with positive numbers to the right of the y-axis and negative numbers to the left.
  • The y-axis is labelled with positive numbers above the y-axis and negative numbers below.
This means if we look at where the point is relative to the x-axis and y-axis, we can see if the x-coordinate and y-coordinate will be positive or negative. See if the point is to the left or right of the y-axis. If it is on the:
  • left, the x-coordinate is negative.
  • right, the x-coordinate is positive.
See if the point is above or below the x-axis. If it is:
  • above, the y-coordinate is positive.
  • below, the y-coordinate is negative.
Putting this together, we can see that there are four quadrants made by the two axes.

Look at which quadrant a point is in to decide the sign of each coordinate.
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See Also

What are the parts of a graph? What is the x-axis? What is the y-axis? What is the origin?