Loop Through List in R (Example) | while- & for-Loop Over Lists


In this R programming tutorial you’ll learn how to run a for-loop to loop through a list object.

The tutorial looks as follows:

Let’s start right away:


Introduction of Example Data

Let’s first create some example data in R:

my_list <- list(c(6, 1, 5, 4, 1),    # Create example list
my_list                              # Print example list
# [[1]]
# [1] 6 1 5 4 1
# [[2]]
# [1] "XXXX"
# [[3]]
# [1] "a" "b" "c"

The previous output of the RStudio console shows the structure of our example data – It’s a list consisting of three different list elements.


Example: for-Looping Over List Elements in R

In this Example, I’ll explain how to loop through the list elements of our list using a for-loop in R. Within each iteration of the loop, we are printing the first entry of the corresponding list element to the RStudio console:

for(i in 1:length(my_list)) {        # Loop from 1 to length of list
  print(my_list[[i]][1])             # Printing some output
# [1] 6
# [1] "XXXX"
# [1] "a"

This example has shown how to loop over a list using a for-loop. However, it would also be possible to loop through a list with a while-loop or a repeat-loop.


Video, Further Resources & Summary

Have a look at the following video of my YouTube channel. I explain the examples of this tutorial in the video.


The YouTube video will be added soon.


Also, you might read some of the other articles on this website.


To summarize: In this article, I showed how to loop over list elements in R. Don’t hesitate to tell me about it in the comments below, if you have further questions or comments.


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2 Comments. Leave new

  • for(i in 1:length(my_list)) { # Loop from 1 to length of list
    print(my_list[[i]][1]) # Printing some output

    what does the i represent, and the one in the second line ” print(my_list[[i]][1]) “

    • Hi Ted,

      I’m sorry for the delayed reply. I was on a long vacation, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to get back to you earlier. Do you still need help with your syntax?



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