Renaming Variables and Character Strings in R

Renaming Variables and Character Strings in R

I want to show you how to rename variables and character strings in R. This is a basic task but one that I do frequently when working with a new dataset. Renaming variables and character strings 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. Let’s get started!

# 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

library(dplyr)

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

# To have a more specific variable name, let's change 
# "coffee" to "Coffee Roast". This is base R code and doesn't 
# call dplyr. 

colnames(gimmeCaffeine)[colnames(gimmeCaffeine) == "coffee"] <- "Coffee Roast"

# Let's change the character strings within the 
# "origin" variable. This is base R code and doesn't call dplyr.

gimmeCaffeine$origin[gimmeCaffeine$origin == "peru"] <- "Peruvian"

It’s as easy as that!

Analysis done using R and RStudio

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