Getting started

The purpose of this tutorial is to show the very basics of the R language so that participants who have not used R before can complete the first assignment in this workshop. For information on the thousands of other features of R, see the suggested resources below.

In this tutorial, R code that you would enter in your script file or in the command line is preceded by the > character, and by + if the current line of code continues from a previous line. You do not need to type this character in your own code. Note that copying and pasting code from the PDF version of this tutorial may lead to errors when trying to execute code. Please copy code from the R script used to produce this tutorial; this script can be found here.

Installing R and RStudio

The most recent version of R for all operating systems is always located at Go directly to, and download the R version for your operating system. Then, install R.

To operate R, you should rely on writing R scripts. We will write these scripts in RStudio. Download RStudio from Then, install it on your computer. Some text editors also offer integration with R, so that you can send code directly to R. RStudio is generally the best solution for running R and maintaining a reproducible workflow.

Lastly, install LaTeX in order to compile PDF files from within RStudio. To do this, follow the instructions under, “Installation”. You won’t have to use LaTeX directly or learn how to write LaTeX code in this workshop.

Opening RStudio

Upon opening the first time, RStudio will look like the screenshot below.