Convert Character String to Variable Name in R (2 Examples)


In this article you’ll learn how to use a character string as variable name in the R programming language.

The article will consist of the following topics:

Let’s dive right in!


Example 1: Convert String to Variable Name with assign Function

Example 1 shows how to turn a character string to a variable name using the assign function. Have a look at the following R code:

assign("my_string_1", 1:5)                   # Apply assign function

Within the assign function, we defined our character string (i.e. “my_string_1”) as well as the values we want to store in the new variable (i.e. a numeric range from 1 to 5). Let’s have a look at the new data object my_string_1:

my_string_1                                  # Return variable values
# 1 2 3 4 5

As expected: The variable my_string_1 contains the numeric range 1 to 5.


Example 2: Convert String to Variable Name with Function

In Example 2, I’ll show an alternative R syntax, which is based on the function:"<-", list("my_string_2", 1:5))      # Apply function

Within the function, we had to specify the operation we want to call (i.e. “<-") and we had to create a list consisting of our character string / variable name and the values we want to assign. Let's have a look at the output in the RStudio console:

my_string_2                                  # Return variable values
# 1 2 3 4 5

The result is exactly the same as in Example 1.


Video & Further Resources

In case you need further information on the content of this tutorial, you might have a look at the following video of my YouTube channel. In the video instruction, I show the R codes of this page:



Furthermore, you could have a look at the related articles of my website:


To summarize: In this tutorial you learned how to get strings recognized as variable names in R. In case you have any additional questions and/or comments, let me know in the comments section below. Furthermore, don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new tutorials.


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