Basic Statistics and Data Analysis

Lecture notes, MCQS of Statistics

Getting help in R Language

R Language has a very useful and advance help system, which help the R user to understand the R language and let him to know how programming should be done in R language.

For getting help in R language you need to click Help button on the toolbar of RGui (R Graphical User Interface) windows. If you have internet access on you PC you can type CRAN in Google and search for the help you need at CRAN.

Use of ? for Help

On the other hand, if you know the name of the function (you want help), you need to type question mark (?) followed by the name of the required function on the R command line prompt. For example to get help about “lm” function type ?lm and then press enter key from keyboard.
help(lm) or ?lm have same search results in R language.


Getting General help in R write the following command at R command prompt

Use of

Sometimes it is difficult to remember the precise name of the function, but you know the subject on which you need help for example data input. Use the function (without question mark) with your query in double quotes like this:“data input”)
Press Enter key you will see the names of the R functions associated with the query.  After that you can easily use ?lm in getting help in R.

Use of find(“”)

Getting help in R, find and apropos are also useful functions. The find function tells you what package something is in: for example

find(“cor”) gives output that the cor in stats package.

Use of apropos()

The apropos function return a character vector giving the names of all objects in the search list that match your inquiry (potentially partial) i.e. This command list all functions containing your string. for example
will gave the list of all functions containing string lm

Use of example()

example(lm) will provide an example of your required function such as lm

Online Help

There is huge amount of information about R on the web. On CRAN you will find variety of help/ manuals. There are also answers to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and R News (contains interesting articles, books reviews and news of forthcoming releases. Search facility of site allows you to investigate the contents of the R documents, functions, and searchable mail archives.

Help Manuals and Archived Mailing lists {RSiteSearch()}

You can search your required function or string in help manuals and archived mailing lists by using

get vignettes

vignette is an R jargon for documentation, and are written in the spirit of sharing knowledge, and
assisting new users in learning the purpose and use of a package. To get some help in R try ?vignette. Vignettes are optional supplemental documentation, that’s why not all packages come with vignettes.
vignette()             will show available vingettes
vignette(“foo”)    will show specific vignette

Now you have learned about getting help in R, now you can continue with the other R tutorials. It is possible that you do not understand something discussed in the coming R tutorials. If this happens then you should use the built in help system before going to the internet. In most of the cases, the help system of R Language will give you enough information about the required function that you have searched for.

Some Source of R Help/ Manual/ Documentations

Download pdf file:


The Author

Muhammad Imdadullah

Student and Instructor of Statistics and business mathematics. Currently Ph.D. Scholar (Statistics), Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan. Like Applied Statistics and Mathematics and Statistical Computing. Statistical and Mathematical software used are: SAS, STATA, GRETL, EVIEWS, R, SPSS, VBA in MS-Excel. Like to use type-setting LaTeX for composing Articles, thesis etc.

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