cols_label: Relabel one or more columns

View source: R/modify_columns.R

cols_labelR Documentation

Relabel one or more columns


Column labels can be modified from their default values (the names of the columns from the input table data). When you create a gt table object using gt(), column names effectively become the column labels. While this serves as a good first approximation, column names as label defaults aren't often as appealing in a gt table as the option for custom column labels. The cols_label() function provides the flexibility to relabel one or more columns and we even have the option to use the md() or html() helper functions for rendering column labels from Markdown or using HTML.


cols_label(.data, ..., .list = list2(...), .fn = NULL, .process_units = NULL)



The gt table data object

⁠obj:<gt_tbl>⁠ // required

This is the gt table object that is commonly created through use of the gt() function.


Column label assignments

⁠<multiple expressions>⁠ // required (or, use .list)

Expressions for the assignment of column labels for the table columns in .data. Two-sided formulas (e.g., ⁠<LHS> ~ <RHS>⁠) can be used, where the left-hand side corresponds to selections of columns and the right-hand side evaluates to single-length values for the label to apply. Column names should be enclosed in c(). Select helpers like starts_with(), ends_with(), contains(), matches(), one_of(), and everything() can be used in the LHS. Named arguments are also valid as input for simple mappings of column name to label text; they should be of the form ⁠<column name> = <label>⁠. Subsequent expressions that operate on the columns assigned previously will result in overwriting column label values.


Alternative to ...

⁠<list of multiple expressions>⁠ // required (or, use ...)

Allows for the use of a list as an input alternative to ....


Function to apply

function // default: NULL (optional)

An option to specify a function that will be applied to all of the provided label values.


Option to process any available units throughout

⁠scalar<logical>⁠ // default: NULL (optional)

Should your column text contain text that is already in gt's units notation (and, importantly, is surrounded by "{{"/"}}"), using TRUE here reprocesses all column such that the units are properly registered for each of the column labels. This ignores any column label assignments in ... or .list.


An object of class gt_tbl.

A note on column names and column labels

It's important to note that while columns can be freely relabeled, we continue to refer to columns by their original column names. Column names in a tibble or data frame must be unique whereas column labels in gt have no requirement for uniqueness (which is useful for labeling columns as, say, measurement units that may be repeated several times—usually under different spanner labels). Thus, we can still easily distinguish between columns in other gt function calls (e.g., in all of the ⁠fmt*()⁠ functions) even though we may lose distinguishability between column labels once they have undergone relabeling.

Incorporating units with gt's units notation

Measurement units are often seen as part of column labels and indeed it can be much more straightforward to include them here rather than using other devices to make readers aware of units for specific columns. The gt package offers the function cols_units() to apply units to various columns with an interface that's similar to that of this function. However, it is also possible to define units here along with the column label, obviating the need for pattern syntax that joins the two text components. To do this, we have to surround the portion of text in the label that corresponds to the units definition with "{{"/"}}".

Now that we know how to mark text for units definition, we know need to know how to write proper units with the notation. Such notation uses a succinct method of writing units and it should feel somewhat familiar though it is particular to the task at hand. Each unit is treated as a separate entity (parentheses and other symbols included) and the addition of subscript text and exponents is flexible and relatively easy to formulate. This is all best shown with a few examples:

  • "m/s" and "m / s" both render as "m/s"

  • "m s^-1" will appear with the "-1" exponent intact

  • "m /s" gives the the same result, as "/<unit>" is equivalent to "<unit>^-1"

  • "E_h" will render an "E" with the "h" subscript

  • "t_i^2.5" provides a t with an "i" subscript and a "2.5" exponent

  • "m[_0^2]" will use overstriking to set both scripts vertically

  • "g/L %C6H12O6%" uses a chemical formula (enclosed in a pair of "%" characters) as a unit partial, and the formula will render correctly with subscripted numbers

  • Common units that are difficult to write using ASCII text may be implicitly converted to the correct characters (e.g., the "u" in "ug", "um", "uL", and "umol" will be converted to the Greek mu symbol; "degC" and "degF" will render a degree sign before the temperature unit)

  • We can transform shorthand symbol/unit names enclosed in ":" (e.g., ":angstrom:", ":ohm:", etc.) into proper symbols

  • Greek letters can added by enclosing the letter name in ":"; you can use lowercase letters (e.g., ":beta:", ":sigma:", etc.) and uppercase letters too (e.g., ":Alpha:", ":Zeta:", etc.)

  • The components of a unit (unit name, subscript, and exponent) can be fully or partially italicized/emboldened by surrounding text with "*" or "**"


Let's use a portion of the countrypops dataset to create a gt table. We can relabel all the table's columns with the cols_label() function to improve its presentation. In this simple case we are supplying the name of the column on the left-hand side, and the label text on the right-hand side.

countrypops |>
  dplyr::select(-contains("code")) |>
  dplyr::filter(country_name == "Uganda") |>
  dplyr::slice_tail(n = 5) |>
  gt() |>
    country_name = "Name",
    year = "Year",
    population = "Population"
This image of a table was generated from the first code example in the `cols_label()` help file.

Using the countrypops dataset again, we label columns similarly to before but this time making the column labels be bold through Markdown formatting (with the md() helper function). It's possible here to use either a = or a ~ between the column name and the label text.

countrypops |>
  dplyr::select(-contains("code")) |>
  dplyr::filter(country_name == "Uganda") |>
  dplyr::slice_tail(n = 5) |>
  gt() |>
    country_name = md("**Name**"),
    year = md("**Year**"),
    population ~ md("**Population**")
This image of a table was generated from the second code example in the `cols_label()` help file.

With a select portion of the metro dataset, let's create a small gt table with three columns. Within cols_label() we'd like to provide column labels that contain line breaks. For that, we can use ⁠<br>⁠ to indicate where the line breaks should be. We also need to use the md() helper function to signal to gt that this text should be interpreted as Markdown. Instead of calling md() on each of labels as before, we can more conveniently use the .fn argument and provide the bare function there (it will be applied to each label defined in the cols_label() call).

metro |>
  dplyr::select(name, lines, passengers, connect_other) |>
  dplyr::arrange(desc(passengers)) |>
  dplyr::slice_head(n = 10) |>
  gt() |>
  cols_hide(columns = passengers) |>
    name = "Name of<br>Metro Station",
    lines = "Metro<br>Lines",
    connect_other = "Train<br>Services",
    .fn = md
This image of a table was generated from the third code example in the `cols_label()` help file.

Using a subset of the towny dataset, we can create an interesting gt table. First, only certain columns are selected from the dataset, some filtering of rows is done, rows are sorted, and then only the first 10 rows are kept. After the data is introduced to gt(), we then apply some spanner labels using two calls of tab_spanner(). Below those spanners, we want to label the columns by the years of interest. Using cols_label() and select expressions on the left side of the formulas, we can easily relabel multiple columns with common label text. Note that we cannot use an = sign in any of the expressions within cols_label(); because the left-hand side is not a single column name, we must use formula syntax (i.e., with the ~).

towny |>
    name, ends_with("2001"), ends_with("2006"), matches("2001_2006")
  ) |>
  dplyr::filter(population_2001 > 100000) |>
  dplyr::arrange(desc(pop_change_2001_2006_pct)) |>
  dplyr::slice_head(n = 10) |>
  gt() |>
  fmt_integer() |>
  fmt_percent(columns = matches("change"), decimals = 1) |>
  tab_spanner(label = "Population", columns = starts_with("population")) |>
  tab_spanner(label = "Density", columns = starts_with("density")) |>
    ends_with("01") ~ "2001",
    ends_with("06") ~ "2006",
    matches("change") ~ md("Population Change,<br>2001 to 2006")
  ) |>
  cols_width(everything() ~ px(120))
This image of a table was generated from the fourth code example in the `cols_label()` help file.

Here's another table that uses the towny dataset. The big difference compared to the previous gt table is that cols_label() as used here incorporates unit notation text (within "{{"/"}}").

towny |>
    name, population_2021, density_2021, land_area_km2, latitude, longitude
  ) |>
  dplyr::filter(population_2021 > 100000) |>
  dplyr::arrange(desc(population_2021)) |>
  dplyr::slice_head(n = 10) |>
  gt() |>
  fmt_integer(columns = population_2021) |>
    columns = c(density_2021, land_area_km2),
    decimals = 1
  ) |>
  fmt_number(columns = latitude, decimals = 2) |>
  fmt_number(columns = longitude, decimals = 2, scale_by = -1) |>
    starts_with("population") ~ "Population",
    starts_with("density") ~ "Density, {{*persons* km^-2}}",
    land_area_km2 ~ "Area, {{km^2}}",
    latitude ~ "Latitude, {{:degrees:N}}",
    longitude ~ "Longitude, {{:degrees:W}}"
  ) |>
  cols_width(everything() ~ px(120))
This image of a table was generated from the fifth code example in the `cols_label()` help file.

The illness dataset has units within the units column. They're formatted in just the right way for gt too. Let's do some text manipulation through dplyr::mutate() and some pivoting with tidyr's pivot_longer() and pivot_wider() in order to include the units as part of the column names in the reworked table. These column names are in a format where the units are included within "{{"/"}}", so, we can use cols_label() with the .process_units = TRUE option to register the measurement units. In addition to this, because there is a ⁠<br>⁠ included (for a line break), we should use the .fn option and provide the md() helper function (as a bare function name). This ensures that any line breaks will materialize.

illness |>
  dplyr::mutate(test = paste0(test, ",<br>{{", units, "}}")) |>
  dplyr::slice_head(n = 8) |>
  dplyr::select(-c(starts_with("norm"), units)) |>
    cols = starts_with("day"),
    names_to = "day",
    names_prefix = "day_",
    values_to = "value"
  ) |>
    names_from = test,
    values_from = value
  ) |>
  gt(rowname_col = "day") |>
  tab_stubhead(label = "Day") |>
    .fn = md,
    .process_units = TRUE
  ) |>
    stub() ~ px(50),
    everything() ~ px(120)
This image of a table was generated from the sixth code example in the `cols_label()` help file.

Function ID


Function Introduced

v0.2.0.5 (March 31, 2020)

See Also

Other column modification functions: cols_add(), cols_align_decimal(), cols_align(), cols_hide(), cols_label_with(), cols_merge_n_pct(), cols_merge_range(), cols_merge_uncert(), cols_merge(), cols_move_to_end(), cols_move_to_start(), cols_move(), cols_nanoplot(), cols_unhide(), cols_units(), cols_width()

gt documentation built on Oct. 7, 2023, 9:07 a.m.