Published May 31, 2023
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Strings in R are a fundamental data type used for storing text data. They are created using quotation marks, either single (‘) or double (“), and can contain any combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. The sections that follow will cover the syntax for creating and manipulating strings in R.


To create a string in R, simply enclose any desired text in quotation marks ' '/ " ". Here are some examples:

# Single quotes
my_string_1 <- 'Hello, World!'
# Double quotes
my_string_2 <- "This is a string."

Concatenating Strings

The paste() function combines multiple strings together:

# Concatenating two strings
string_1 <- "Hello"
string_2 <- "world"
my_string <- paste(string_1, string_2)
# Output: "Hello world"

The paste0() function concatenates strings without any separator:

# Concatenating two strings without a separator
string_1 <- "Hello"
string_2 <- "world"
my_string <- paste0(string_1, string_2)
# Output: "Helloworld"

Subsetting Strings

Square brackets [], that specify the starting and ending indices [start:end], can be used to extract a specific portion of a string:

my_string <- "Hello, World!"
substring <- my_string[1:5]
# Output: "Hello"

The substr() function extracts a substring from a string:

my_string <- "Hello, World!"
substring <- substr(my_string, start = 1, stop = 5)
# Output: "Hello"

Modifying Strings

Various functions available in R to modify a string. For example, a string can be converted to uppercase or lowercase using the toupper() and tolower() functions, respectively:

my_string <- "Hello, World!"
uppercase_string <- toupper(my_string)
# Output: "HELLO, WORLD!"
lowercase_string <- tolower(my_string)
# Output: "hello, world!"

Whitespace can be removed from the beginning and/or end of a string using the trimws() function:

my_string <- " Hello, World! "
trimmed_string <- trimws(my_string)
# Output: "Hello, World!"

Calculating the Length of a String

In R, the nchar() function is used to calculate the length of a string:

# Define a string variable
my_string <- "Hello, World!"
# Calculate the length of the string
string_length <- nchar(my_string)
# Output: 13

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