top_n & top_frac R Functions of dplyr Package (2 Examples)


In this R tutorial you’ll learn how to return the upper part of a data set with the top_n and top_frac functions of the dplyr add-on package.

The article consists of the following:

Let’s dive right into the examples:


Creating Example Data

We’ll use the following data frame as basement for the examples of this R tutorial:

my_data <- data.frame(x1 = 1:5,                 # Create example data
                      x2 = LETTERS[1:5])
my_data                                         # Print example data
#   x1 x2
# 1  1  A
# 2  2  B
# 3  3  C
# 4  4  D
# 5  5  E

Furthermore, we need to install and load the dplyr package to R, if we want to use the top_n and top_frac functions:

install.packages("dplyr")                       # Install dplyr
library("dplyr")                                # Load dplyr


Example 1: Select Top N Rows with top_n Function

The top_n function returns the first N rows of a data frame or tibble. The top_n function can be applied as follows:

top_n(my_data, 3)                               # Apply top_n function
# Selecting by x2
#   x1 x2
# 1  3  C
# 2  4  D
# 3  5  E

In this example, we returned the first three rows of our data matrix.


Example 2: Select Top Fraction with top_frac Function

We can also extract a percentage of our input data by using the top_frac function:

top_frac(my_data, 0.5)                          # Apply top_frac function
# Selecting by x2
#   x1 x2
# 1  4  D
# 2  5  E

In this example, we returned the top 50% of our data frame to the RStudio console.


Video, Further Resources & Summary

I have recently published a video on my YouTube channel, which shows further functions of the dplyr package. You can find the video below:



In addition, you might want to read the related articles which I have published on


In this tutorial you learned how to get the top values of a data frame or tibble with the dplyr package in the R programming language. Let me know in the comments, in case you have additional questions.


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