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R Strings


String Literals

A character, or strings, are used for storing text. A string is surrounded by either single quotation marks, or double quotation marks:

"hello" is the same as 'hello':

Example

"hello"
'hello'
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Assign a String to a Variable

Assigning a string to a variable is done with the variable followed by the <- operator and the string:

Example

str <- "Hello"
str # print the value of str
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Multiline Strings

You can assign a multiline string to a variable like this:

Example

str <- "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit,
sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt
ut labore et dolore magna aliqua."

str # print the value of str
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However, note that R will add a "\n" at the end of each line break. This is called an escape character, and the n character indicates a new line.

If you want the line breaks to be inserted at the same position as in the code, use the cat() function:

Example

str <- "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit,
sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt
ut labore et dolore magna aliqua."

cat(str)
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String Length

There are many usesful string functions in R.

For example, to find the number of characters in a string, use the nchar() function:

Example

str <- "Hello World!"

nchar(str)
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Check a String

Use the grepl() function to check if a character or a sequence of characters are present in a string:

Example

str <- "Hello World!"

grepl("H", str)
grepl("Hello", str)
grepl("X", str)
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Combine Two Strings

Use the paste() function to merge/concatenate two strings:

Example

str1 <- "Hello"
str2 <- "World"

paste(str1, str2)
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Escape Characters

To insert characters that are illegal in a string, you must use an escape character.

An escape character is a backslash \ followed by the character you want to insert.

An example of an illegal character is a double quote inside a string that is surrounded by double quotes:

Example

str <- "We are the so-called "Vikings", from the north."

str

Result:

Error: unexpected symbol in "str <- "We are the so-called "Vikings"
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To fix this problem, use the escape character \":

Example

The escape character allows you to use double quotes when you normally would not be allowed:

str <- "We are the so-called \"Vikings\", from the north."

str
cat(str)
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Note that auto-printing the str variable will print the backslash in the output. You can use the cat() function to print it without backslash.

Other escape characters in R:

Code Result
\\ Backslash
\n New Line
\r Carriage Return
\t Tab
\b Backspace