R comes with rich built-in documentation that you can access by typing
? before the name of a function. The documentation isn’t always
aimed at newcomers, and may use terminology that you’re not familiar with.
But don’t despair! Ignore what you don’t understand, and persevere.
Often you’ll find what you need in the examples at the bottom of the help
There are three commands in R that you should be familiar with:
?function_name opens the help for
function_name(). If you know
the name of the function, this will tell you how it works and how you
can control its operation. (
? also works for built-in datasets).
If you ever wonder which package a function comes from, you can
? to figure it out - just look at the top-left of the help page;
the package name is surrounded in
browseVignettes(package = "package_name") lists all the “vignettes”
available for a package. Vignettes are longer documents that describe
how multiple functions work. Many packages include an introductory vignette
that give you the lay of the land: these are useful to read before
you know the name of the function you need.
help(package = "package_name") lists all the functions available in
a package with links to their help pages. This mostly useful for packages
that don’t have a vignette.
Alternatively, you can use https://www.rdocumentation.org; this provides exactly access to the same documentation pages and vignettes, but in an attractive website.