You can either set your axes.formatter.limits rc setting to something like 4,
or you can make your axes smaller in the figure, like

Thanks for this. I tried the first one (I can't make the figure smaller ;)), but I got this result :

  File "", line 14, in <module>
  File "/home/brucher/local/lib/python2.5/site-packages/matplotlib/", line 552, in __setitem__
    cval = self.validate[key](val)
  File "/home/brucher/local/lib/python2.5/site-packages/matplotlib/", line 119, in __call__
    assert type(s) in (list,tuple)

with :
>>> import pylab as pl
>>> pl.rcParams['axes.formatter.limits']=4

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