3. Finding help in R

Sooner or later, everyone needs help… and working with R does not constitute any exception. There are several ways to get help with R.

In R:

As indicated in the R console when starting up R, you may get help by typing help(). This command opens immediately a new page/tab in your Web Browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox…) in a rather non-sexy format. In the meantime, the R console displays:help()

A second way to get help in R is through the command help.start(). This opens also a new page in your browser, but this page looks a bit more friendly (hyperlinks, simple design):


In the meantime, the console shows:

if nothing happens

Should your browser refuse to open the page or remain inactive following the command in R, simply copy the address provided in the console and paste it in your browser.

Should you need help specifically about a function, you may type the function preceded by a question mark in the console. Using the function table() as an example, simply type ?table or ?table() in the console and a page containing info on the function opens in your browser.

Should you need help bout something which is not a function (maybe a term in statistics or graphic design), type the term that you need info about preceded by 2 question marks: ??mean could be an example. Note that the page that opens in your browser is the result of a search tool which provides a list of relevant pages or items linked to your request.


If the solutions above do not provide enough help or if you need more details or further explanations, you might try your luck online. There are surprisingly a lot of blogs and websites which provide tutorials and assistance about R. Some of these are available via the Useful blogs and Useful books and docs boxes at the bottom of the present page. Finally, forums like stackoverflow are a convenient place to find a solution to a very precise problem: you may find the question and answer you need in this huge database or ask a question to a whole community of R users.

In books:

The section Useful books and docs at the bottom of this page provides you with links towards very useful references (books, e-books, online resources). Among them, “R for the dummies”… (well, one has to start somewhere) but also two books by M.J. Crawley, “the R book” and “Statistics: an introduction using R” which are considered as references in the field of R and statistics.


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