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Learn R Markdown in 10 Minutes: Download and Run Your First Document

How to Download R Markdown

R Markdown is a powerful tool for creating dynamic and reproducible documents with R. In this article, you will learn what R Markdown is, why you should use it, how to install it, and how to use it.

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What is R Markdown and why use it?

R Markdown is a file format that combines text and code in a plain text document. You can use R Markdown to write narratives, analyses, reports, presentations, dashboards, websites, books, and more. You can also use other languages besides R, such as Python, SQL, C++, and JavaScript.

R Markdown has many benefits for data analysis and communication, such as:

Linking data, code, and output in one place

R Markdown allows you to keep all your data, code, results, plots, and writing in one document. This makes your workflow more reproducible and transparent. You can easily track what you did and how you did it. You can also update your document automatically when your data or code changes.

Supporting multiple languages and output formats

R Markdown supports dozens of static and dynamic output formats, including HTML, PDF, Word, PowerPoint, LaTeX, HTML5 slides, Tufte-style handouts, books, dashboards , shiny applications, scientific articles, websites, and more. You can also use multiple languages in your document, such as R, Python, SQL. This gives you more flexibility and options for presenting your work.

Enhancing readability and collaboration

R Markdown makes your document more readable and engaging by using markdown syntax. Markdown is a simple way to format text using symbols like * for italic, for bold, # for headings, etc. You can also add links, images, tables, equations, and other elements to your document. R Markdown also makes it easier to collaborate with others by using plain text files that work well with version control systems. You can share your code and results with your colleagues or reviewers without losing any information or formatting.

How to install R Markdown

To use R Markdown, you need to install two things: R and RStudio.

Install R and RStudio

R is a free and open source programming language for statistical computing and graphics. You can download and install R from .

RStudio is a free and open source integrated development environment (IDE) for working with R. It provides many features that make coding easier and faster. You can download and install RStudio from .

Install the rmarkdown package

The rmarkdown package is a collection of tools that help you create and convert R Markdown documents. You can install the rmarkdown package from CRAN (the Comprehensive R Archive Network) by running this command in RStudio:

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You can also update the rmarkdown package to the latest version by running this command:


Create a new R Markdown file in RStudio

Once you have installed R and RStudio, you can create a new R Markdown file by following these steps:

  • Open RStudio and click on File > New File > R Markdown.

  • A dialog box will appear asking you to choose a document title, author name, and output format. You can change these later if you want.

  • Click OK and a new R Markdown file will open in the editor pane. You will see some default text and code that you can modify or delete.

How to use R Markdown

To use R Markdown, you need to write text and code chunks in markdown syntax, choose an output format, and compile the document.

Write text and code chunks in markdown syntax

You can write text in markdown syntax using symbols like * for italic, for bold, # for headings, etc. You can also add links, images, tables, equations, and other elements to your document. For a complete reference of markdown syntax, see .

You can write code chunks in R Markdown by enclosing them in three backticks (`) followed by the name of the language (e.g., ```r). You can also add options to control how the code is executed and displayed. For example, you can use echo = FALSE to hide the code, or fig.width = 6 to set the width of the plot. For a complete reference of code chunk options, see .

Here is an example of a text and code chunk in R Markdown:

# This is a heading This is some text with *italic* and bold formatting. This is a code chunk that creates a plot: ```r plot, echo = FALSE, fig.width = 6 library(ggplot2) ggplot(mtcars, aes(x = mpg, y = hp)) + geom_point() + labs(title = "Miles per gallon vs horsepower") ```

Choose an output format and compile the document

You can choose an output format for your R Markdown document by specifying it in the YAML header at the top of the file. The YAML header is a section enclosed by three dashes (---) that contains metadata and options for your document. For example, you can use output: html_document to create an HTML document, or output: pdf_document to create a PDF document. For a complete list of output formats and options, see .

You can compile your R Markdown document by clicking on the Knit button in the toolbar or pressing Ctrl + Shift + K. This will run all the code chunks in your document and generate the output file. You can view the output file in the viewer pane or in your web browser.

Customize the document with options and templates

You can customize your R Markdown document with various options and templates. For example, you can use theme: cosmo to change the appearance of your HTML document, or toc: true to add a table of contents. You can also use templates to create different types of documents, such as presentations, dashboards, websites, books, etc. For more information on how to customize your R Markdown document, see .


R Markdown is a great tool for creating reproducible documents with R. It allows you to link data, code, and output in one place, support multiple languages and output formats, and enhance readability and collaboration. To use R Markdown, you need to install R and RStudio, install the rmarkdown package, create a new R Markdown file, write text and code chunks in markdown syntax, choose an output format, and compile the document. You can also customize your document with options and templates. R Markdown is a versatile and useful tool for data analysis and communication. You can learn more about R Markdown from the following resources:

  • : The official website of R Markdown, with documentation, examples, and tutorials.

  • : The online book "R Markdown: The Definitive Guide" by Yihui Xie, J.J. Allaire, and Garrett Grolemund.

  • : The chapter on R Markdown from the online book "R for Data Science" by Hadley Wickham and Garrett Grolemund.

  • : The RStudio cheat sheets on R Markdown, including the basics, reference guide, and tips and tricks.

  • : The gallery of R Markdown examples, showcasing different types of documents and output formats.


What are some examples of R Markdown documents?

Some examples of R Markdown documents are:

  • A report that analyzes the gapminder data set and produces a summary table and a scatter plot.

  • A presentation that introduces the basics of R Markdown and shows how to create slides with different layouts.

  • A dashboard that displays key metrics and charts for a business using flexdashboard.

  • A website that showcases a portfolio of data science projects using blogdown.

  • A book that teaches how to use R for data analysis using bookdown.

How can I add tables and figures to my R Markdown document?

You can add tables and figures to your R Markdown document by using code chunks or markdown syntax. For example, you can use the kable function from the knitr package to create a table


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