Getting rid of white space at the beginning and end of a string

July 28, 2011
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There are situations where we are working with character strings extracted from various sources and it can be annoying when there is white space at the beginning and/or end of the strings. This whitespace can cause problems when attemping to sort, subset or various other common operations.

The stringr package has a handy function str_trim (edited) that comes to the rescue and is straightforward to use. First up make sure that the package is available in the R session:

require(stringr)

Here is a basic example with a simple string:

> "  This is an example of whitespace.  "
[1] "  This is an example of whitespace.  "
> str_trim("  This is an example of whitespace.  ")
[1] "This is an example of whitespace."

As we can see this is very simple and is set up to work on a vector of character strings as well.

Other useful resources are provided on the Supplementary Material page. Visit here for more examples of string manipulation.

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