ggExtra is Extra useful

April 3, 2016
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Amending plots with easy to remember syntax –

I love ggplot2, but I struggle to remember some of the specific syntax I need to get my plots looking the way I want, especially those relating to making tweaks in the theme settings.

Two of my most common changes are to rotate x axis labels, (so every date point is labeled), and removing the default grid lines.

The main reason I remove these is because I’m most often producing run or control charts, which need no additional distracting lines.

Typically to rotate the x-axis I need to add the following line to my code:

theme(axis.text.x = elementtext(angle=90, vjust=0.5))

And to remove (all) gridlines:

theme(panel.grid.minor=elementblank(),

panel.grid.major=elementblank())

Sometimes I only want to remove the minor lines:

theme(panel.grid.minor=elementblank())

The ggExtra package makes both simple with the rotateTextX and removeGrid functions.
Rotating the x axis labels now requires just:

 rotateTextX()

and removing gridlines:

 removeGrid()

By default removeGrid() removes all gridlines, (minor gridlines are always removed), and you can specify a particular axis if you wish .e.g.

removeGridX() 
#or
removeGridY()

This is much easier to remember, and makes it easier to label all the dates on the x-axis.

You may also like to check out the cowplot package, which produces grid-free plots by default, and makes it easier to display multiple plots side by side.

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