Quotes {base}R Documentation



Descriptions of the various uses of quoting in R.


Three types of quote are part of the syntax of R: single and double quotation marks and the backtick (or back quote, `). In addition, backslash is used for quoting the following character(s) inside character constants.

Character constants

Single and double quotes delimit character constants. They can be used interchangeably but double quotes are preferred (and character constants are printed using double quotes), so single quotes are normally only used to delimit character constants containing double quotes.

Backslash is used to start an escape sequence inside character constants. Unless specified in the following table, an escaped character is interpreted as the character itself. Single quotes need to be escaped by backslash in single-quoted strings, and double quotes in double-quoted strings.

\n newline
\r carriage return
\t tab
\b backspace
\a alert (bell)
\f form feed
\v vertical tab
\\ backslash \
\nnn character with given octal code (1, 2 or 3 digits)
\xnn character with given hex code (1 or 2 hex digits)
\unnnn Unicode character with given hex code (1–4 hex digits)
\Unnnnnnnn Unicode character with given hex code (1–8 hex digits)

The last two are only supported in Unicode and other multibyte locales, and the last is not supported on Windows. All but the Unicode escape sequences are also supported when reading character strings from a connection by scan.

Names and Identifiers

Identifiers consist of a sequence of letters, digits, the period (.) and the underscore. They must not start with a digit nor underscore, nor with a period followed by a digit.

The definition of a letter depends on the current locale, but only ASCII digits are considered to be digits.

Such identifiers are also known as syntactic names and may be used directly in R code. Almost always, other names can be used provided they are quoted. The preferred quote is the backtick (`), and deparse will normally use it, but under many circumstances single or double quotes can be used (as a character constant will often be converted to a name). One place where backticks may be essential is to delimit variable names in formulae: see formula.

See Also

Syntax for other aspects of the syntax.

sQuote for quoting English text.

shQuote for quoting OS commands.

The R Language Definition manual.

[Package base version 2.2.1 Index]