Add Leading Zeros in R (Example)


This article shows how to add leading zeros to a vector in the R programming language.

Below, you can find a reproducible R code. The R code is structured as follows:

So without further ado, let’s dig in!


Example Data

In the example of this tutorial, I’ll use the following example data:

vec <- c(11111, 21212121, 333, 12345, 0)       # Create example vector
vec                                            # Print vector to RStudio console
# 11111 21212121      333    12345        0

As you can see based on the RStudio console output, the example data is a simple numeric vector with five elements


Addition of Leading Zeros in R

In order to add a leading zero to each of our vector elements, we can use the paste0 R function as follows:

vec_0 <- paste0("0", vec)                      # Add leading zeros
vec_0                                          # Print updated vector
# "011111"    "021212121" "0333"      "012345"    "00"

Compare the updated vector with our original data. We added a zero to each element of our example vector.

Note: Our original data had the data object class numeric. After the addition of a zero at the beginning of each vector element, however, our vector was converted to the character class. We had to do this because R automatically removes all leading zeros for numeric data objects.


Further Resources

Do you need further explanations for the addition of leading zeros to a vector or a data frame column? Then you could have a look at the following video of my YouTube channel:



In addition, you could also have a look at the other R tutorials on


In summary: I hope you learned in this tutorial how to add leading zeros in the R programming language. In case you have any further comments or questions, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below.


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