What is a Cartesian Coordinate Plane?

Common Core Standard 6.NS.8 6th Grade Math

A Cartesian graph, also known as a Cartesian coordinate plane or system, can be used to describe the location of a point. 
A Cartesian coordinate system is created by drawing a horizontal number line, called the x-axis, and a vertical number line called the y-axis. The origin is the point where the horizontal ( x) and vertical (y) axis intersect.
Ordered pairs of numbers called coordinates are used to locate a point on the coordinate plane. 
The horizontal distance from the origin is the first number in an ordered pair, and the vertical axis is the second number. (x, y)
 For example, the ordered pair (2, 4) would mean the point is 2 units to the right of the origin, and 4 units above the origin. 
As numbers increase on the x-axis the point will move to the right, and on the y-axis, as numbers increase the location moves upward. 
The Cartesian graphing system is also divided into four quadrants.  The quadrants are created from the intersection of the x and y-axis.  The upper right quadrant is labeled quadrant I and all points in this quadrant have positive x and y values. 
If you move in a clock wise manner the next quadrant is quadrant II, and points in this quadrant have positive x values and negative y values.  Quadrant III has all negative values, and quadrant IV has negative x values and positive y values. The ordered pair (4,-2) would be found in quadrant II, four places to the right of the y-axis, and two places below the x-axis.
cartesian plane

This video covers the basics of the Coordinate Plane. It covers,




Ordered Pairs


How to Graph

Graphing Questions
1. List the ordered pair of point 1.
2. In which quadrant is point 2 found?
3. List the ordered pair of point 3.
4. In which quadrant is point 4 found?
5. Name the axis point 5 is located on.
6. Which quadrant is point 6 found in?
7. Name the axis that number 7 is located on.

Answers 1. (2,2)   2. II  3. (-2,-4)  4. Quadrant III  5. x axis, absissa 6. Quadrant IV  7. y axis, ordinate


Summary of the parts of the coordinate plane


  • Horizontal axis is labeled with the letter x
  • In a Cartesian coordinate system the vertical axis is labeled with the letter y
  • Ordered pairs of numbers are used to describe points on the coordinate plane. (x,y)
  • It is divided into four quadrants I,II,III,IV
  • x-coordinate is named the absissa 
  • y-coordinate is named the ordinate
  • The origin is the intersection of the x and y axis. (0,0)
 A graph is a visual picture of data that helps you see relationships. In Math or Science you may need to graph data on a Cartesian graph that includes variables.
You can use DRY MIX in order to help how to set up the graph properly.
DRY stands for
D = Dependent variable
R = Responding Variable
Y = y axis
MIX stands for
M = Manipulated variable
I = Independent variable
X = x axis


The y axis runs up and down or vertical, and contains the dependent variable.

 The x axis runs left and right, and contains the independent variable.