Escape Backslash in Character String in R (2 Examples)


In this tutorial, I’ll explain how to escape backslashes in character strings in the R programming language.

The content of the tutorial is structured as follows:

Let’s dive into it…


Example 1: Only One Backslash in Character String Leads to Strange Output

In Example 1, I’ll demonstrate the problem that might occur when using backslashes in a character string.

Let’s assume that we want to create a character string object containing one backslash in the middle. Then, we might try to use the following R code:

x1 <- "aaa\bbb"                      # Only one backslash

However, if we return this character string to the RStudio console using the cat function, the following weird output is returned:

cat(x1)                              # Print character string
# aabb

As you can see, the cat function has returned a character string without backslash. Furthermore, the letters before and after the backslash have not been returned.

The reason for this is that backslashes are treated as special characters in R, and hence we have to apply special rules if we want to use backslashes in character strings.

More on that in the next example…


Example 2: Escape Backslash in Character String Using Double-Backslash

The following R code explains how to escape a backslash in a character string.

To accomplish this, we have to specify a second backslash in front of the backslash that we want to escape.

Have a look at the following R code and its output:

x2 <- "aaa\\bbb"                     # Escape backslash
cat(x2)                              # Print character string
# aaa\bbb

As you can see, the previous character string output contains one backslash.

Note that we could apply this logic to multiple backslashes as well, e.g. two backslashes would have to be escaped by two additional backslashes.


Video & Further Resources

If you need more explanations on the examples of this tutorial, you may have a look at the following video on my YouTube channel. In the video, I’m explaining the content of this tutorial.



In addition, you may read some of the related posts on You can find some tutorials about topics such as character strings, naming data, and data conversion below.


Summary: In this tutorial you have learned how to escape a backslash in a character string in R programming. For instance, this technique might be used to replace or remove a single backslash in R. If you have further questions, let me know in the comments.


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