Count Number of Characters in String in R (2 Examples)

 

On this page you’ll learn how to get the length of a character string in R programming.

The tutorial will consist of the following:

Here’s the step-by-step process:

 

Creation of Example Data

First, I’ll need to create some example data:

my_string <- "This is a nice string in R"    # Creating character string
my_string                                    # Printing character string
# "This is a nice string in R"

As you can see based on the previous output of the RStudio console, our example data is a character string stored in the data object my_string.

 

Example 1: Get Length of Character String Using nchar() Function

In this Example, I’ll illustrate how to find the length of our character string using the nchar function in R. For this task, we have to insert the name of our character string into the nchar command:

nchar(my_string)                             # Applying nchar function
# 26

The RStudio console returns the value 26, i.e. our string consists of 26 characters. Note that blanks are also considered as characters by the nchar function.

 

Example 2: Get Length of Character String Using str_length() Function of stringr Package

A popular package for the handling and manipulation of character strings in R is the stringr package.

The stringr package also provides functions for the counting of character in strings and in this example I’ll show you how to use those functions in R.

First, we have to install and load the stringr package:

install.packages("stringr")                  # Install & load stringr
library("stringr")

Now, we can apply the str_length function of the stringr package as shown below:

str_length(my_string)                        # Applying str_length function
# 26

The RStudio console returns 26 again, i.e. the result is the same as in Example 1.

Whether you want to use the functions of the base installation of the R programming language or the functions provided by the stringr package is a matter of taste.

 

Video, Further Resources & Summary

In case you need more information on the contents of this tutorial, you could watch the following video of my YouTube channel. I’m explaining the R programming code of this tutorial in the video.

 

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Furthermore, you may want to read some of the related R tutorials on this website. A selection of related tutorials about topics such as counting, numeric values, and character strings is shown here:

 

This article explained how to find the amount of characters in a string in the R programming language. Tell me about it in the comments below, in case you have further questions.

 

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Dear Joachim,
    I am using nchar to count the number of letters in my words.
    Since I have sentences, some of my words have a full stop at the end (I – read – books.)
    So for these words with the final dot R counts the dot as character.

    Is there a way to exclude dots from the count?

    I’m using this code:

    data$WordLen <- nchar(as.character(data$sentence), type="chars")

    Thanks in advance!

    Grazia

    Reply
    • Hey Grazia,

      You may use the gsub function to remove the points before counting the number of characters.

      Have a look at the following R code:

      x <- "I – read – books."
      x_no_points <- gsub(".", "", x)
      nchar(x_no_points)

      Regards,

      Joachim

      Reply
  • Is there a way to do this with every word not just the string as a whole?

    Reply
    • Hi Sam,

      You can split your string into separate character strings for each word using the strsplit function.

      See the example code below:

      nchar(unlist(strsplit(my_string, split = " ")))

      Regards

      Joachim

      Reply

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