R Graphs Cookbook – H.V. Mittal

2011 (1st Ed.)

Good book for quick basic graphs

Not For GGplot

This book presents a list of quick recipes to build simple graphs in R without ggplot2. It is organized around the main broad types of graphs. It does not assumes any knowledge of R. However the R code is sometimes not sufficiently commented, which can make it challenging for real beginners. All examples are presented with the same structure: How to, How it works, There’s more. I find this choice good to have a quick reference, though I don’t believe this is the best way to understand what is going on. In particular it is not always easy for beginners to identity which part of the code is specific to the topic. There is a second version of the book but I didn’t read it so far!

So if your time is limited and you need a simple and efficient book that goes straight to the point for basic plots, go for it! If you want to understand the logic of the language, maybe not the best book.

Programming Level


Rating: 0.5 out of 4.


Rating: 2 out of 4.

* Beginners | ** Fluent in R | *** Advanced Users | **** R Guru and other aliens

Interesting features

  • Chapter 2 : a summary of the main graphical parameters
  • Calendar plots
  • Customized pair plots
  • How to fine tune barplots, boxplots, and histograms
  • Different solutions for legends
  • Quick and efficient introduction to maps in R
  • Good section on expressions and mathematical symbols
  • How to export figures for publication


  • R codes needs to be more explained.
  • The first chapter is not useful
  • Nothing about margins
  • Presents qplot (seriously, who uses that?)
  • Printed in black and white
  • Presents pie charts (absolutely forbidden by any decent data scientist! 😉 )
  • The section on how to save figures needs to be improved.
  • I believe that the first chapter should be replaced by a more general one about data structure (long vs large format, for instance), factor manipulation, data format, all these things that typically trap beginners.


1 Basic Graph Functions
2 Beyond the Basics: Adujsting Key Parameters
3 Crating Scatter Plots
4 Creating Line Graphs
5 Creating Bar, Dot and Pie Charts
6 Creating Histograms
7 Creating Box and Whisker Plots
8 Creating Heat Maps and Contour Plots
9 Creating Maps
10 Finalizing graphs for publications and presentations

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