How to Rename Variables in R

How to Rename Variables in R

I want to show you how to rename variables in R. This is a basic task but one that I do frequently when working with a new dataset. Renaming variables is useful, especially when creating graphics. For example, if I were plotting these data, I would want the variable name to show as “Coffee Roast” rather than “coffee.” If I were just doing data wrangling, I wouldn’t care as much about the variable name. But when presenting data, I want the text to be grammatically correct and specific. I will show you how to do this using dplyr::rename and then using base R.

When I first started learning R, I remember being frustrated there wasn’t a clear example of how to do this. Now there is!

You might interested in my other post How to Recode Factor and Character Variables in R.

# First, let's create a new data set in R, 
# called “gimmeCaffeine.” It has 2 variables (coffee and origin).

# We will use dplyr::tribble to input the data. tribble creates an
# easy to read dataset.


gimmeCaffeine <- tribble(
                 ~coffee,    ~origin, 
                 "light",    "colombia", 
                 "medium",   "ethiopia",  
                 "dark",     "peru")

# Using dplyr::rename to change the variable name. A "variable" is also commonly
# referred to as a column name. Since we have a space between Coffee Roast,
# we need to use parentheses. If we instead used coffeeRoast, the parentheses
# wouldn't be needed.

# Using dplyr::rename

gimmeCaffeine <- rename(gimmeCaffeine, "Coffee Roast" = coffee)

# Using base R
colnames(gimmeCaffeine)[colnames(gimmeCaffeine) == "coffee"] <- "Coffee Roast"

It's as easy as that!

Analysis done using R and RStudio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.