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%matplotlib inline
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import matplotlib.pylab as plt
import numpy as np

# Create a figure and axis
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
# Plot 100 random points 
# the y values of which are very small
ax.scatter(np.random.rand(100), np.random.rand(100)/100000.0)
# Set the y limits appropriately
ax.set_ylim(0, 1/100000.0)
# Change the y ticklabel format to scientific format
ax.ticklabel_format(axis='y', style='sci', scilimits=(-2, 2))
# Get the offset value
offset = ax.yaxis.get_offset_text()
# Print it out
print '1st offset printout: {}'.format(offset)
# Run plt.tight_layout()
# Print out offset again - you can see the value now!
print '2nd offset printout: {}'.format(offset)
# Change it to latex format
# Print it out
print '3rd offset printout: {}'.format(offset)
# Add some text to the middle of the figure just to 
# check that it isn't the latex format that's the problem
ax.text(0.5, 0.5/100000.0, r'$\mathregular{10^{-2}}$')
# And show the figure
1st offset printout: Text(0,0.5,u'')
2nd offset printout: Text(0,291.333,u'1e\u22125')
3rd offset printout: Text(0,291.333,u'$\\mathregular{10^{-5}}$')
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