Online Test Banks
Score higher
See Online Test Banks
Learning anything is easy
Browse Online Courses
Mobile Apps
Learning on the go
Explore Mobile Apps
Dummies Store
Shop for books and more
Start Shopping

How to Create Character Vectors for Text Data in R

Text in R is represented by character vectors. A character vector is — you guessed it! — a vector consisting of characters.

In the world of computer programming, text often is referred to as a string. Here the word text refers to a single element of a vector, but you should be aware that the R Help files sometimes refer to strings and sometimes to text. They mean the same thing.


Take a look at how R uses character vectors to represent text. You assign some text to a character vector and get it to extract subsets of that data. You also get familiar with the very powerful concept of named vectors, vectors in which each element has a name. This is useful because you can then refer to the elements by name as well as position.

Assign a value to a character vector

You assign a value to a character vector by using the assignment operator (<-), the same way you do for all other variables. You test whether a variable is of class character, for example, by using the is.character() function as follows:

> x <- "Hello world!"
> is.character(x)

Notice that x is a character vector of length 1. To find out how many characters are in the text, use nchar:

> length(x)
[1] 1
> nchar(x)
[1] 12

This function tells you that x has length 1 and that the single element in x has 12 characters.

Create a character vector with more than one element

To create a character vector with more than one element, use the combine function, c():

x <- c("Hello", "world!")
> length(x)
[1] 2
> nchar(x)
[1] 5 6

Notice that this time, R tells you that your vector has length 2 and that the first element has five characters and the second element has six characters.

  • Add a Comment
  • Print
  • Share
blog comments powered by Disqus

Inside Sweepstakes

Win $500. Easy.