Concepts of R Histogram 101

What is a histogram?

A histogram is a graphical display of data that shows the distribution of a set of values. It consists of a series of bars, each representing a range or category of data, and the height of each bar corresponds to the frequency or count of the data within that range. Histograms are commonly used in statistical analysis to visualize the shape, center, and spread of the data distribution, making it easier to identify patterns, trends, and outliers. They are particularly useful for identifying the presence of clusters, gaps, or skewness in the data, and can provide valuable insights into the underlying characteristics of the dataset. Histograms are a powerful tool for both professionals and students in various fields, such as economics, psychology, and engineering, in understanding the nature of their data and making informed decisions based on its distribution.

Why use histograms in data analysis?

Histograms are a crucial tool in data analysis for understanding the distribution of numerical data, identifying patterns and trends, and making informed decisions based on data. By displaying the frequency of values within specified ranges, histograms provide a visual representation of the data’s distribution, allowing analysts to quickly grasp the shape and spread of continuous sample data. This insight is vital for identifying outliers, understanding central tendencies, and detecting potential data anomalies.

Moreover, histograms enable comparisons between different data sets, facilitating the identification of similarities and differences in data distributions. This, in turn, allows analysts to make meaningful comparisons and draw valuable insights, whether it’s in the context of market research, quality control, or scientific studies. Overall, by offering a clear snapshot of the distribution and trends within numerical data, histograms play a crucial role in helping us make evidence-based decisions and understand the patterns within our data.

Basic Concepts of R Histogram

The basic concepts of an R histogram involve understanding the distribution of a dataset by dividing it into intervals called bins and counting the number of observations that fall into each bin. This visualization tool allows for the easy identification of patterns and trends in the data, and is commonly used in data analysis and statistics. Understanding the concepts of bin size, frequency, and density can help in creating informative and insightful histograms in R. Let's delve into the essential elements of creating and interpreting histograms in R.

Vector of values

To create a vector of values for generating histograms in R, start by determining the range of the X and Y values for the data you want to visualize. Once you have the range of values, you can create a vector using the “seq” function to generate a sequence of values within that range. For example, if the range of X values is from 1 to 10 and the range of Y values is from 1 to 20, you can create a vector for the X values using “x_vector <- seq(1, 10, by = 1)" and for the Y values using “y_vector <- seq(1, 20, by = 1)".

Then, when creating the histogram chart in R, you can use the “xlim” and “ylim” parameters to specify the range of values for the X and Y axes on the plot. For example, when using the “hist” function to create the histogram, you can include the parameters “xlim = c(1, 10)" and “ylim = c(1, 20)" to set the limits of the X and Y axes on the chart.

By following these steps and selecting the required parameters, you can create a histogram chart in R using the specified vector of values for the X and Y axes.

Range of values

To create a histogram chart with a specific range of values, we can use the xlim and ylim parameters in the X-axis and Y-axis, respectively. For example, in the Old Faithful dataset, we can specify waiting times between 70 and 100 minutes using the xlim parameter. Additionally, we can adjust the vertical values by setting the ylim parameter to go from 0 to 60 for better visibility.

Using the rivers dataset, we can draw a histogram to observe its right-skewed distribution. This can be achieved by setting the appropriate parameters and limits to accurately represent the range of values and visualize the distribution of the data.

By including the range of values, histograms, xlim, ylim, and right-skewed distribution, we can create accurate and informative visualizations that effectively convey the distribution of the data within specific value ranges.

Breakpoints between histogram cells

Breakpoints can be defined as a vector to create a histogram with unequal intervals. This allows for the visualization of data with varying intervals, making it ideal for representing datasets that do not have uniform intervals. Unlike a traditional histogram with equally spaced intervals, a histogram with breakpoints allows for the accommodation of data that may have larger or smaller intervals between values.

With this approach, the area of each cell in the histogram is proportional to the number of observations falling inside it. This means that the size of each cell directly reflects the frequency of observations within that particular interval. By using breakpoints to create a histogram with unequal intervals, data can be visualized in a way that accurately represents the distribution of the observations and effectively communicates the pattern of the dataset.

Creating a Basic R Histogram

Creating a basic R histogram is a fundamental skill for anyone working with data analysis in R. Histograms are a useful way to visualize the distribution of a single continuous variable. In this tutorial, we will cover the basic steps required to create a histogram in R, including loading the necessary package, preparing and exploring the data, and customizing the histogram appearance. By following these steps, you will be able to quickly and effectively create a basic histogram to better understand the distribution of your data. Whether you are a beginner looking to add a new skill to your data analysis toolkit or a seasoned R user in need of a refresher, this tutorial will guide you through the process of creating a basic R histogram.

Using the hist() function

The hist() function in R is used to create a histogram of a numerical variable. To use it, simply pass the numerical variable as an argument to the function, e.g., hist(data$variable).

The components returned by the hist() function include “breaks” which represent the intervals on the x-axis, and “counts” which represent the frequency of observations in each interval. The “density” component represents the density of the data in each interval.

These components can be used for further processing, such as extracting the breaks and counts to perform additional calculations or visualizations.

To place the counts on top of each cell in the histogram, the text() function can be used. This allows for the counts to be displayed directly on the histogram bars.

Overall, the hist() function is a convenient way to create a histogram of a numerical variable in R, and the returned components can be used for further analysis and customization of the histogram.

Specifying the number of bins

In GGplot2, the number of bins in a histogram can be specified using the bins parameter in the geometry layer. This allows you to control the granularity of the histogram by defining how many bins or bars will be used to represent the data. Additionally, you can also specify other aspects of the histogram, such as the bin width, boundaries, and geometries.

To specify the number of bins in a GGplot2 histogram, start by adding the geom_histogram layer to your plot, and then use the bins parameter to set the desired number of bins. For example, if you want to create a histogram with 10 bins, you would add bins = 10 within the geom_histogram() function.

Furthermore, you can also adjust the bin width using the width parameter, or specify the boundaries of the bins using the breaks parameter. In addition, different geometries such as bar, step, or density can be specified to customize the appearance of the histogram.

Overall, by using the bins parameter in the geometry layer of GGplot2, you can easily control the number of bins in a histogram and customize other aspects to best represent your data.

Customizing the border color

To customize the border color for a histogram plot in R, you can use the functions scale_color_manual(), scale_color_brewer(), and scale_color_grey(). These functions allow you to specify custom colors, utilize color palettes from the RColorBrewer package, or use grey color palettes for the border color.

If you want to manually specify the border color, you can use the scale_color_manual() function. This allows you to input a vector of specific colors to use for the border.

Alternatively, if you want to use predefined color palettes, you can utilize the scale_color_brewer() function, which provides access to the color palettes available in the RColorBrewer package. This allows for easy selection of color schemes that are visually appealing and complementary.

Finally, if you prefer to use varying shades of grey for the border color, you can utilize the scale_color_grey() function. This allows for customization of the border color using different shades of grey.

By using these functions, you can easily customize the border color for your histogram plot to best suit your preferences and visualization needs.

Adding Labels and Titles to the Histogram


Adding labels and titles to a histogram is essential for conveying information clearly and effectively. By labeling the x and y axis, as well as providing a clear title, viewers can easily understand the data being presented. These labels and titles provide context and explanation, enhancing the overall impact and comprehension of the histogram. In the following headings, we will discuss the importance of adding labels and titles to the histogram, as well as provide a step-by-step guide on how to do so effectively.

Axis labels

To add axis labels to a graph in Excel, start by clicking on the chart. Then, navigate to the Layout tab and select “Chart Elements.” From the drop-down menu that appears, choose “Axis Titles.” You will then have the option to select the type of axis label you prefer, whether it's for the x-axis or the y-axis.

After selecting the axis label option, you can enter the appropriate label for both the x-axis and y-axis. Simply click on the existing label and start typing to replace it with your desired text. Once you have entered the labels, they will appear on the graph to provide clear and informative context for the data being displayed.

By following these steps in Excel, you can easily add axis labels to your graph, making it easier for viewers to understand the data being presented and interpret the information accurately.

X-axis label

The x-axis label on the graph represents the categories or variables being measured over time. In this case, the x-axis shows the time intervals, with each interval representing a specific unit of time such as days, months, or years. The label should be clear, concise, and accurately reflect the data being presented, such as “Time (Months)” or “Time (Years).” Including the units of measurement is important to provide context for the data being displayed, ensuring that viewers understand the scale and duration of the information being presented. For example, if the graph is tracking sales data, the x-axis label could be “Time (Months)” or “Time (Years),” depending on the timeframe being measured. By including a clear x-axis label and units of measurement, the data presentation becomes more informative and understandable for the audience.

Y-axis label

To create a Y-axis label for a graph, start by identifying the specific variable being measured. The Y-axis represents the vertical axis on the graph, so the label should clearly and accurately describe the data being displayed.

For example, if the variable being measured is “Temperature (°C),” the Y-axis label should read “Temperature (°C)” to clearly indicate that the vertical axis represents temperature in degrees Celsius.

When creating the label, use clear and concise language. Avoid using ambiguous terms or abbreviations that may be confusing to the viewer. It's important for the Y-axis label to provide a straightforward understanding of the data being represented on the graph.

Overall, the Y-axis label should directly reflect the variable being measured and should be easily understood by anyone viewing the graph. By effectively labeling the Y-axis, the graph will provide a clear representation of the data and its significance.

Title for the histogram

To add a title and label to a Histogram in R using the hist() function, you can use the main parameter for the title and xlab for the label. For example, if you want to create a histogram of a dataset called “data” and add a title “Distribution of Data” and a label “Value”, you can use the following code:


hist(data, main = "Distribution of Data", xlab = "Value")


In this example, “Distribution of Data” is the title for the histogram and “Value” is the label for the x-axis. The main parameter is used to specify the title for the histogram, while the xlab parameter is used to provide a label for the x-axis.

By including these parameters and providing the specific text for the title and label, you can effectively add a title and label to a histogram in R using the hist() function. This makes it easier to understand the data being presented in the histogram.

Using the main and xlab parameters in the hist() function allows for customization of the title and label in a histogram, making it more informative and visually appealing.

Create a free account to access the full topic

“It has all the necessary theory, lots of practice, and projects of different levels. I haven't skipped any of the 3000+ coding exercises.”
Andrei Maftei
Hyperskill Graduate

Master coding skills by choosing your ideal learning course

View all courses