Review of “R Graphs Cookbook” by Hrishi Mittal

January 24, 2011

(This article was first published on Portfolio Probe » R language, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Executive summary: Extremely useful for new users, informative to even quite seasoned users.


Once upon a time a publisher asked if I would referee a book (unspecified) about R.  In an instance that can only be described as psychotic I said yes.  That bit of insanity turned out to be a good thing.

I was treated to chapters of a cookbook on R graphics doled out in installments, like how Thackeray’s Vanity Fair was originally published.

It is fairly embarrassing how much I learned from the book.

The format

All you need to know about each task is presented in specific sections:

  • The task: what is to be done
  • Getting ready: packages that might need to be attached, for instance
  • How to do it …: the R code
  • How it works …: a brief explanation of what the code means
  • There’s more …: variations on the theme

You only need to get your own data into R in order to get similar plots that you care about.


The graphs are in black and white, not color — at least in the hardcopy version.  Heatmaps in grayscale are suboptimal.  The Panglossian view is that this will encourage readers to create the graphs themselves.

I made an effort to rid the book of the L-word when “package” is meant.  The L-word is “library” (see Some quibbles about “The R Book” and its comments for more on this).  Alas, I failed.  I fear I’ll be expelled from the JaRgon Police Force.

Getting it

You can go to the R Graphs Cookbook webpage.

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