Getting Started with R Markdown — Guide and Cheatsheet

Getting Started with R Markdown — Guide and Cheatsheet

Learn the fundamentals of R markdown in this in-depth tutorial, or simply use it as a quick reference guide and cheatsheet for R markdown formatting.In this blog post, we’ll look at how to use R Markdown. By the end, you’ll have the skills you need to produce a document or presentation using R Mardown, from scratch!

In this blog post, we’ll look at how to use R Markdown. By the end, you’ll have the skills you need to produce a document or presentation using R Mardown, from scratch!

We’ll show you how to convert the default R Markdown document into a useful reference guide of your own. We encourage you to follow along by building out your own R Markdown guide, but if you prefer to just read along, that works, too!

R Markdown is an open-source tool for producing reproducible reports in R. It enables you to keep all of your code, results, plots, and writing in one place. R Markdown is particularly useful when you are producing a document for an audience that is interested in the results from your analysis, but not your code.

R Markdown is powerful because it can be used for data analysis and data science, collaborating with others, and communicating results to decision makers. With R Markdown, you have the option to export your work to numerous formats including PDF, Microsoft Word, a slideshow, or an HTML document for use in a website.

r markdown tips, tricks, and shortcuts

Turn your data analysis into pretty documents with R Markdown.

We’ll use the RStudio integrated development environment (IDE) to produce our R Markdown reference guide. If you’d like to learn more about RStudio, check out our list of 23 awesome RStudio tips and tricks!

Here at Dataquest, we love using R Markdown for coding in R and authoring content. In fact, we wrote this blog post in R Markdown! Also, learners on the Dataquest platform use R Markdown for completing their R projects.

We included fully-reproducible code examples in this blog post. When you’ve mastered the content in this post, check out our other blog post on R Markdown tips, tricks, and shortcuts.

Okay, let’s get started with building our very own R Markdown reference document!

R Markdown Guide and Cheatsheet: Quick Navigation

1. Install R Markdown

R Markdown is a free, open source tool that is installed like any other R package. Use the following command to install R Markdown:


Now that R Markdown is installed, open a new R Markdown file in RStudio by navigating to File > New File > R Markdown…. R Markdown files have the file extension “.Rmd”.

2. Default Output Format

When you open a new R Markdown file in RStudio, a pop-up window appears that prompts you to select output format to use for the document.

New Document

The default output format is HTML. With HTML, you can easily view it in a web browser.

We recommend selecting the default HTML setting for now — it can save you time! Why? Because compiling an HTML document is generally faster than generating a PDF or other format. When you near a finished product, you change the output to the format of your choosing and then make the final touches.

One final thing to note is that the title you give your document in the pop-up above is not the file name! Navigate to File > Save As.. to name, and save, the document.

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