par Function in R (3 Examples)


In this R tutorial you’ll learn how to set or query graphical parameters using the par function.

Table of contents:

Let’s dig in.


Example 1: Create Graphic with Multiple Plots

In Example 1, I’ll illustrate how to draw a graphic containing multiple plot windows in R. For this task, we have to use the mfrow argument of the par function:

par(mfrow = c(2, 3))              # Multiple plots

Now, we can draw multiple plots in the same graphic:

plot(1:10)                        # 1st plot
plot(1:5)                         # 2nd plot
plot(10:1)                        # 3rd plot
plot(1)                           # 4th plot
plot(1:3)                         # 5th plot
plot(5:1)                         # 6th plot


r graph figure 1 par function


As you can see in Figure 1, the previous R code created a multi-plot graphic. The value 2 within the mfrow argument specified to draw a graphic with two rows and the value 3 specified to draw a graphic with three columns.

I recommend to set the par options back to their default values after you are finished with all your plots. Otherwise the changed par options will be kept until you restart RStudio. We can reset the par options using the function:                         # Set par options back to default


Example 2: Increase or Decrease White Space Around Borders of Plot

In this Example, I’ll explain how to change the size of the area around a plot by using the mar argument of the par function. We have to specify a vector of four values for the mar argument. The first value specifies the white space below the plot, the second value specifies the white space on the left side, the third value specifies the white space above the plot, and the fourth value specifies the white space on the right side.

par(mar = c(5, 5, 10, 20))        # Change white space

After running the par function with the previous specifications, we can draw any Base R plot we want:

plot(1:10)                        # Draw plot


r graph figure 2 par function


As shown in Figure 2, the previous syntax created a scatterplot with increased/decreased white space around the graph.

Again, let’s set the par options back to default so that we can continue with the next example:                         # Set par options back to default


Example 3: Change Background Color of Plot

The code below illustrates how to change the background color of a plot using the par function and the bg argument. In this example, I’m setting the background color to yellow:

par(bg = "yellow")                # Modify background

Now, let’s draw another plot:

plot(1:10)                        # Draw plot


r graph figure 3 par function


As shown in Figure 3, the previous R syntax created a graphic with yellow background color.

Finally, let’s reset the par options:                         # Set par options back to default


Video & Further Resources

Do you want to know more about the modification of graphical options? Then you might want to have a look at the following video of my YouTube channel. In the video, I explain the R code of this page.


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Furthermore, you might have a look at the related articles of my website. Some articles about graphics in R can be found below.


Summary: In this tutorial you learned how to apply the par function in the R programming language. In case you have any further questions, please let me know in the comments section. In addition, please subscribe to my email newsletter to receive updates on new articles.


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