# Adding Horizontal & Vertical Lines to plotly Graph in R

This tutorial provides several examples to add custom lines and shapes to plotly graphs in the R programming language.

Table of contents:

**Note:** This article was created in collaboration with Kirby White. Kirby is a Statistics Globe author, innovation consultant, and data science instructor. His Ph.D. is in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. You can read more about Kirby here!

## Packages and Example Data

If you have not already done so, install and load these packages:

Weâ€™ll use the `mtcars`

dataset for this example, which is already included in R.

df <- datasets::mtcars

Letâ€™s build a basic scatterplot that weâ€™ll store in an object called `fig`

, which weâ€™ll modify throughout the tutorial to demonstrate the features:

fig <- df %>% plot_ly( x = ~disp, y = ~mpg, color = ~factor(cyl), type = "scatter", mode = "markers" ) %>% layout(title=list(text='<b>Cylinders</b>'))

## Single Lines

Letâ€™s start by adding a horizontal line to show the mean `mpg`

for all cylinders and displacement values.

fig %>% add_lines( y = mean(df$mpg), x = range(df$disp), line = list( color = "grey" ), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE )

The `x`

and `y`

arguments can accept a single value or a vector of two numeric values. In this case, we passed a single value to the `y`

argument by calculating the mean `mpg`

. The `range`

function returned a two-element vector with the min and max `disp`

to have the line stretch across all points in the graph. Note that you may need to add `na.rm = TRUE`

to your `mean`

function to ignore missing values.

Creating a vertical line is the same, but flipping the inputs to the `x`

and `y`

arguments:

fig %>% add_lines( y = range(df$mpg), x = mean(df$disp), line = list( color = "grey" ), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE )

## Multiple Lines

You can add multiple `add_lines()`

elements to a graph to mix-and-match multiple lines across groups. This example shows how to create a vertical line within each group of vehicles.

fig %>% add_lines( y = range(df[df$cyl == 4,"mpg"]), x = mean(df[df$cyl == 4,"disp"]), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE, line = list(color = "gray") ) %>% add_lines( y = range(df[df$cyl == 6,"mpg"]), x = mean(df[df$cyl == 6,"disp"]), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE, line = list(color = "gray") ) %>% add_lines( y = range(df[df$cyl == 8,"mpg"]), x = mean(df[df$cyl == 8,"disp"]), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE, line = list(color = "gray") )

This is an explicit way of adding several lines, but it can be cumbersome if you have much more than this! Letâ€™s look at a more complicated â€” but scalable â€” way of adding several lines. Weâ€™ll create a function to add a vertical line to each group, regardless of how many groups there are.

vertical_lines <- function(fig, groups, x_variable, y_variable, data){ return_fig <- fig for (i in unique(data[,`groups`])){ temp_dat <- data[data[,`groups`] == i,c(`x_variable`, `y_variable`)] # print(dim(temp_dat)) return_fig <- return_fig %>% add_lines( y = range(temp_dat[,2], na.rm = TRUE), x = mean(temp_dat[,1], na.rm = TRUE), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE ) } return(return_fig) }

We can now pass our baseline figure (fig) into the function and it will add a vertical line to each group.

vertical_lines(fig = fig, groups = 'cyl', data = df, x_variable = 'disp', y_variable = 'mpg')

## Line Formatting

There are many ways to format lines in plotly. Letâ€™s use an example from above, but change several characteristics of each line. This example should give you ideas about ways to change your graphs!

fig %>% add_lines( y = range(df[df$cyl == 4, 'mpg']), x = mean(df[df$cyl == 4, 'disp']), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE, line = list(color = "gray", width = 15, dash = 'dot') ) %>% add_lines( y = range(df[df$cyl == 6, 'mpg']), x = mean(df[df$cyl == 6, 'disp']), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE, line = list(color = "red", width = 5, dash = 'dash') ) %>% add_lines( y = range(df[df$cyl == 8, 'mpg']), x = mean(df[df$cyl == 8, 'disp']), inherit = FALSE, showlegend = FALSE, line = list(color = "rgb(115,112,110)", dash = 'solid')) )

## Further Resources

You may find a video introduction to the plotly package below:

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Furthermore, you can check out these other articles for more detailed examples and videos of these popular charts in plotly:

- Introduction to the plotly Package in R
- plotly Line Plot in R
- plotly Scatterplot in R
- plotly Barplot in R
- plotly Boxplot in R
- plotly Histograms in R

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