Strings in R Programming - The Complete Guide

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What are Strings in R?

The string is any value written either in a single quote or double quote. Internally R takes single quotes as double quotes only.

Valid Strings in R

The quotes at the beginning and end of a string should be both single or double quotes and cannot be mixed.


x <- "This is a valid proper ' string"
y <- 'this is still valid as this one" double quote is used inside single quotes"


This is a valid proper ' string
this is still valid as this single" double quote is used inside single quotes

Invalid Strings in R

There should not be a single quote in a string which is having double quotes at the beginning and ending and vice versa.


a<-  'Incorrect string"
b <- 'no single quote' should be present within it'


...: unexpected INCOMPLETE_STRING
.... unexpected symbol
1: b <- 'no single quote' should

String Manipulation in R

Concatenating Strings: paste() function

paste() function combines strings and can take many numbers of arguments.


The Basic syntax for paste function is :

paste(x,y,z,sep=” “, collapse=NULL)

  • x, y, z represents any number of arguments
  • sep represents any kind of separator between arguments.
  • collapse represents the elimination of space in between strings and not in between two or more words of the same string.


x <- "Welcome"
y<- 'to'
z <- "Intellipaat Services"
print(paste(x, y, z))
print(paste(x,y,z,sep = "_"))
print(paste(x,y,z, sep="", collapse=""))


[1] Welcome to Intellipaat Services
[1]  Welcome_to_Intellipaat Services
[1] WelcometoIntellipaat Services

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Formatting numbers and strings in R

Using format() function

Numbers and strings with the help of format() function can be formatted to a specific style.

format(x, digits, nsmall, width, scientific, justify=c(“left”, “centre”, “right”, “none”))

x is a vector, digits are the total number of digits, nsmall is the minimum digits towards right of the decimal point, scientific has TRUE and FALSE to display scientific notation, width is a number of blank spaces at the beginning of a string and justify is to display string towards left, centre or right.


#illustrating use of digit
dig<- format( 12.3456789, digits = 8)
#illustrating scientific notation
ans <- format(c(5, 13.14521), scientific = TRUE)
#Illustrating justify use of strings
sol <-format"(21.9", width = 6, justify=l)


[1] "12.345679"
[1] "5.000000e+00"  "1.314521e+01"
[1] "21.9   "

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Counting characters in a string – nchar() function

The function counts the number of blank spaces and characters in a string.

  • nchar(a); where “a” is the vector input


s <- nchar("calculating number of charactersis upper case conversion")")


[1] 32

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Changing the case – toupper() & tolower() functions

This function can change the case of letters of a string.


#converting to upper case
ans <- toupper("This is upper case Transform")



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Extracting components of a string via substring() function

Syntax:  substring(a, first, last)

  • where a is vector input of the character
  • first is the position of “a” character to be extracted from starting.
  • last is the position of “a” character to be extracted until the last character


#Extracting characters from 3rd to 5th position
sol <- substring("Welcome", 3, 5)


[1] "loc"

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