I want to give to my students instructions/advises for drawing (directed) graphs (with few nodes, less than 15) in draft mode (before drawing final one on the official test paper).

But I really have no idea what to say that would be relevant... Myself, I do it quite randomly before finalize.

Is there some relevant instructions that could be given?


1 Answer 1


There is quite a bit of literature on this topic in the "Graph Drawing" community. Although the goal is algorithms for automatically drawing graphs, several papers offer criteria which could be followed by hand. I'll mention two.

(1) Eades, Peter, and Lin Xuemin. "How to draw a directed graph." In 1989 IEEE Workshop on Visual Languages, pp. 13-14. IEEE Computer Society, 1989. DOI.

Here their 1st criterion aims for a downward flow, but the preferred direction could be, say, rightward.

Then one applies the criteria in order: C1, C2, C3, each step refining the previous.

(2) Gansner, Emden R., Eleftherios Koutsofios, Stephen C. North, and K-P. Vo. "A technique for drawing directed graphs." IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 19, no. 3 (1993): 214-230. DOI.



  • $\begingroup$ @joseph-orourke Thanks! it helps! In the image that you propose, the distribution is effectively well balanced but is this arrangement "predictable" considering the adjacency matrix? $\endgroup$
    – david
    Nov 22, 2020 at 13:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @david: The example was computed from the adjacency matrix (or some other equivalent graph input form). That's Fig.1-3a from the 2nd cited paper. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2020 at 16:12

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