# Tips & Tricks 3: Ordering Datasets Alphabetically

**geomorph**, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers]. (You can report issue about the content on this page here)

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Today’s exercise is another nice and simple one, and allows you to get used to manipulating datasets in R.**Exercise 3 – How to reorder the dataset alphabetically by specimen name.**Say you have a 2D array dataset with specimen names (here species) as the row names of species data (I have jumbled up the species of geomorph’s data(plethspecies) for illustrative purposes)

[,1] [,2] [,3] [,4] [,5] [,6] [,7] [,8]

P_cinereus 0.2170911 -0.000276374 0.2592660 -0.05280429 -0.01647032 -0.01611658 -0.2561081 -0.1222936

P_nettingi 0.2182337 -0.007565857 0.2550516 -0.07272572 -0.02249780 -0.02076196 -0.2448233 -0.1139709

P_hoffmani 0.2157877 -0.002494932 0.2538394 -0.05447151 -0.02241651 -0.01523319 -0.2502073 -0.1157858

P_virginia 0.2155726 0.001949692 0.2575607 -0.05119322 -0.03633579 -0.01912463 -0.2491259 -0.1158853

P_serratus 0.2086011 0.005599942 0.2474015 -0.05370812 -0.02172973 -0.01504136 -0.2538781 -0.1217033

P_electromorphus 0.2094443 -0.001604654 0.2502967 -0.05379854 -0.02843583 -0.01551027 -0.2536498 -0.1242497

P_shenandoah 0.2164737 0.003217350 0.2621750 -0.04501284 -0.01737607 -0.01863017 -0.2564934 -0.1198138

P_hubrichti 0.2154898 -0.000836868 0.2522478 -0.06473866 -0.03708750 -0.02215923 -0.2497272 -0.1155023

P_richmondi 0.2115516 -0.005225566 0.2499019 -0.06172998 -0.02749914 -0.01938572 -0.2553196 -0.1238423

…

and you want to order them alphabetically by name, this is simply:

> y <- y[order(rownames(y)),] # where y is a 2D array of your data

The equivalent for your 3D array is:

> Y <- Y[,,order(dimnames(Y)[[3]])] # where Y is a 3D array

Easy! In these two examples, the specimen names are in the data matrix itself. But what if you want to sort by other classifiers?

Using this construct, you can be smarter with ordering and sort by any other classifier, simply by adding in the classifying vector as x in Y[,,sort(x)]

for example,

> data(plethodon)

> Y <- plethodon$land

> # the individual specimens in this dataset are in a random order. To sort the individuals by species names as given by the classifier $species:

> plethodon$species

[1] Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah

[19] Teyah Teyah Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Jord Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah

[37] Teyah Teyah Teyah Teyah

Levels: Jord Teyah

> Y[,,order(plethodon$species)] # where Y is a 3D array

Manipulating datasets in *R* is challenging at first, but is easy once you know the tricks!

Emma**Update 19th April: **The original version of this post used the function sort() rather than order(). While they both came to the same conclusion in these examples, I should explain the difference between them, and why I changed them. sort() returns an ordered vector of the object within the parentheses, while order() returns the addresses of the elements within object if they would be ordered. order() therefore is more often used within Y[] than on its own.

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