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Often data you’re working with has abstract column names, such as (x1, x2, x3…). Typically, the first step I take when renaming columns with r is opening my web browser.

The dataset cars is data from the 1920s on “Speed and Stopping Distances of Cars”. There is only 2 columns shown below.

colnames(datasets::cars)
[1] "speed" "dist" 

If we wanted to rename the column “dist” to make it easier to know what the data is/means we can do so in a few different ways.

## Using dplyr:

cars %>%
rename("Stopping Distance (ft)" = dist) %>%
colnames()

[1] "speed"             "Stopping Distance"
cars %>%
rename("Stopping Distance (ft)" = dist, "Speed (mph)" = speed) %>%
colnames()

[1] "Speed (mph)"            "Stopping Distance (ft)"

## Using Base r:

colnames(cars)[2] <-"Stopping Distance (ft)"

[1] "speed"                  "Stopping Distance (ft)"

colnames(cars)[1:2] <-c("Speed (mph)","Stopping Distance (ft)")

[1] "Speed (mph)"            "Stopping Distance (ft)"

## Using GREP:

colnames(cars)[grep("dist", colnames(cars))] <-"Stopping Distance (ft)"

"speed"                  "Stopping Distance (ft)"