tab_footnote: Add a table footnote

View source: R/tab_create_modify.R

tab_footnoteR Documentation

Add a table footnote


The tab_footnote() function can make it a painless process to add a footnote to a gt table. There are commonly two components to a footnote: (1) a footnote mark that is attached to the targeted cell content, and (2) the footnote text itself that is placed in the table's footer area. Each unit of footnote text in the footer is linked to an element of text or otherwise through the footnote mark. The footnote system in gt presents footnotes in a way that matches the usual expectations, where:

  1. footnote marks have a sequence, whether they are symbols, numbers, or letters

  2. multiple footnotes can be applied to the same content (and marks are always presented in an ordered fashion)

  3. footnote text in the footer is never exactly repeated, gt reuses footnote marks where needed throughout the table

  4. footnote marks are ordered across the table in a consistent manner (left to right, top to bottom)

Each call of tab_footnote() will either add a different footnote to the footer or reuse existing footnote text therein. One or more cells outside of the footer are targeted using the ⁠cells_*()⁠ helper functions (e.g., cells_body(), cells_column_labels(), etc.). You can choose to not attach a footnote mark by simply not specifying anything in the locations argument.

By default, gt will choose which side of the text to place the footnote mark via the placement = "auto" option. You are, however, always free to choose the placement of the footnote mark (either to the ⁠"left⁠ or "right" of the targeted cell content).


  locations = NULL,
  placement = c("auto", "right", "left")



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.


Footnote text

⁠scalar<character>⁠ // required

The text to be used in the footnote. We can optionally use the md() and html() functions to style the text as Markdown or to retain HTML elements in the footnote text.


Locations to target

⁠<locations expressions>⁠ // default: NULL (optional)

The cell or set of cells to be associated with the footnote. Supplying any of the ⁠cells_*()⁠ helper functions is a useful way to target the location cells that are associated with the footnote text. These helper functions are: cells_title(), cells_stubhead(), cells_column_spanners(), cells_column_labels(), cells_row_groups(), cells_stub(), cells_body(), cells_summary(), cells_grand_summary(), cells_stub_summary(), and cells_stub_grand_summary(). Additionally, we can enclose several ⁠cells_*()⁠ calls within a list() if we wish to link the footnote text to different types of locations (e.g., body cells, row group labels, the table title, etc.).


Placement of the footnote mark

⁠singl-kw:[auto|right|left]⁠ // default: "auto"

Where to affix footnote marks to the table content. Two options for this are ⁠"left⁠ or "right", where the placement is either to the absolute left or right of the cell content. By default, however, this option is set to "auto" whereby gt will choose a preferred left-or-right placement depending on the alignment of the cell content.


An object of class gt_tbl.

Formatting of footnote text and marks

There are several options for controlling the formatting of the footnotes, their marks, and related typesetting in the footer. All of these options are available within the tab_options() function and a subset of these are exposed in their own ⁠opt_*()⁠ functions.

Choosing the footnote marks

We can modify the set of footnote marks with tab_options(..., footnotes.marks) or opt_footnote_marks(..., ). What that argument needs is a vector that will represent the series of marks. The series of footnote marks is recycled when its usage goes beyond the length of the set. At each cycle, the marks are simply doubled, tripled, and so on (e.g., * -> ⁠**⁠ -> ⁠***⁠). The option exists for providing keywords for certain types of footnote marks. The keywords are:

  • "numbers": numeric marks, they begin from 1 and these marks are not subject to recycling behavior (this is the default)

  • "letters": minuscule alphabetic marks, internally uses the letters vector which contains 26 lowercase letters of the Roman alphabet

  • "LETTERS": majuscule alphabetic marks, using the LETTERS vector which has 26 uppercase letters of the Roman alphabet

  • "standard": symbolic marks, four symbols in total

  • "extended": symbolic marks, extends the standard set by adding two more symbols, making six

The symbolic marks are the: (1) Asterisk, (2) Dagger, (3) Double Dagger, (4) Section Sign, (5) Double Vertical Line, and (6) Paragraph Sign; the "standard" set has the first four, "extended" contains all.

Defining footnote typesetting specifications

A footnote spec consists of a string containing control characters for formatting. They are separately defined for footnote marks beside footnote text in the table footer (the 'spec_ftr') and for marks beside the targeted cell content (the 'spec_ref').

Not every type of formatting makes sense for footnote marks so the specification is purposefully constrained to the following:

  • as superscript text (with the "^" control character) or regular-sized text residing on the baseline

  • bold text (with "b"), italicized text (with "i"), or unstyled text (don't use either of the "b" or "i" control characters)

  • enclosure in parentheses (use "(" / ")") or square brackets (with "[" / "]")

  • a period following the mark (using "."); this is most commonly used in the table footer

With the aforementioned control characters we could, for instance, format the footnote marks to be superscript text in bold type with "^b". We might want the marks in the footer to be regular-sized text in parentheses, so the spec could be either "()" or "(x)" (you can optionally use "x" as a helpful placeholder for the marks).

These options can be set either in a tab_options() call (with the footnotes.spec_ref and footnotes.spec_ftr arguments) or with opt_footnote_spec() (using the spec_ref or spec_ftr arguments).

Additional typesetting options for footnote text residing in the footer

Within tab_options() there are two arguments that control the typesetting of footnotes. With footnotes.multiline, we have a setting that determines whether each footnote will start on a new line, or, whether they are combined into a single block of text. The default for this is TRUE, but, if FALSE we can control the separator between consecutive footnotes with the footnotes.sep argument. By default, this is set to a single space character (" ").


Using a subset of the sza dataset, let's create a new gt table. The body cells in the sza column will receive background color fills according to their data values (with the data_color() function). After that, the use of tab_footnote() lets us add a footnote to the sza column label (explaining what the color gradient signifies).

sza |>
    latitude == 20 &
      month == "jan" &
  ) |>
  dplyr::select(-latitude, -month) |>
  gt() |>
    columns = sza,
    palette = c("white", "yellow", "navyblue"),
    domain = c(0, 90)
  ) |>
    footnote = "Color indicates the solar zenith angle.",
    locations = cells_column_labels(columns = sza)
This image of a table was generated from the first code example in the `tab_footnote()` help file.

Of course, we can add more than one footnote to the table, but, we have to use several calls of tab_footnote(). This variation of the sza table has three footnotes: one on the "TST" column label and two on the "SZA" column label (these were capitalized with opt_all_caps()). We will ultimately have three calls of tab_footnote() and while the order of calls usually doesn't matter, it does have a subtle effect here since two footnotes are associated with the same text content (try reversing the second and third calls and observe the effect in the footer).

sza |>
    latitude == 20 &
      month == "jan" &
  ) |>
  dplyr::select(-latitude, -month) |>
  gt() |>
  opt_all_caps() |>
  cols_align(align = "center") |>
  cols_width(everything() ~ px(200)) |>
    footnote = md("TST stands for *True Solar Time*."),
    locations = cells_column_labels(columns = tst)
  ) |>
    footnote = md("SZA stands for *Solar Zenith Angle*."),
    locations = cells_column_labels(columns = sza)
  ) |>
    footnote = "Higher Values indicate sun closer to horizon.",
    locations = cells_column_labels(columns = sza)
  ) |>
  tab_options(footnotes.multiline = FALSE)
This image of a table was generated from the second code example in the `tab_footnote()` help file.

Text in the footer (both from footnotes and also from source notes) tends to widen the table and, by extension, all the columns within it. We can limit that by explicitly setting column width values, which is what was done above with cols_width(). There can also be a correspondingly large amount of vertical space taken up by the footer since footnotes will, by default, each start on a new line. In the above example, we used tab_options(footnotes.multiline = FALSE) to make it so that all footer text is contained in a single block of text.

Let's move on to another footnote-laden table, this one based on the towny dataset. We have a header part, with a title and a subtitle. We can choose which of these could be associated with a footnote and in this case it is the "subtitle" (one of two options in the cells_title() helper function). This table has a stub with row labels and some of those labels are associated with a footnote. So long as row labels are unique, they can be easily used as row identifiers in cells_stub(). The third footnote is placed on the "Density" column label. Here, changing the order of the tab_footnote() calls has no effect on the final table rendering.

towny |>
  dplyr::filter(csd_type == "city") |>
  dplyr::arrange(desc(population_2021)) |>
  dplyr::select(name, density_2021, population_2021) |>
  dplyr::slice_head(n = 10) |>
  gt(rowname_col = "name") |>
    title = md("The 10 Largest Municipalities in `towny`"),
    subtitle = "Population values taken from the 2021 census."
  ) |>
  fmt_integer() |>
    density_2021 = "Density",
    population_2021 = "Population"
  ) |>
    footnote = "Part of the Greater Toronto Area.",
    locations = cells_stub(rows = c(
      "Toronto", "Mississauga", "Brampton", "Markham", "Vaughan"
  ) |>
    footnote = md("Density is in terms of persons per km^2^."),
    locations = cells_column_labels(columns = density_2021)
  ) |>
    footnote = "Census results made public on February 9, 2022.",
    locations = cells_title(groups = "subtitle")
  ) |>
  tab_source_note(source_note = md(
    "Data taken from the `towny` dataset (in the **gt** package)."
  )) |>
  opt_footnote_marks(marks = "letters")
This image of a table was generated from the third code example in the `tab_footnote()` help file.

In the above table, we elected to change the footnote marks to letters instead of the default numbers (done through opt_footnote_marks()). A source note was also added; this was mainly to demonstrate that source notes will be positioned beneath footnotes in the footer section.

For our final example, let's make a relatively small table deriving from the sp500 dataset. The set of tab_footnote() calls used here (four of them) have minor variations that allow for interesting expressions of footnotes. Two of the footnotes target values in the body of the table (using the cells_body() helper function to achieve this). On numeric values that right-aligned, gt will opt to place the footnote on the left of the content so as to not disrupt the alignment. However, the placement argument can be used to force the positioning of the footnote mark after the content. We can also opt to include footnotes that have no associated footnote marks whatsoever. This is done by not providing anything to locations. These 'markless' footnotes will precede the other footnotes in the footer section.

sp500 |>
  dplyr::filter(date >= "2015-01-05" & date <="2015-01-10") |>
  dplyr::select(-c(adj_close, volume, high, low)) |>
  dplyr::mutate(change = close - open) |>
  dplyr::arrange(date) |>
  gt() |>
  tab_header(title = "S&P 500") |>
  fmt_date(date_style = "m_day_year") |>
  fmt_currency() |>
  cols_width(everything() ~ px(150)) |>
    footnote = "More red days than green in this period.",
    locations = cells_column_labels(columns = change)
  ) |>
    footnote = "Lowest opening value.",
    locations = cells_body(columns = open, rows = 3),
  ) |>
    footnote = "Devastating losses on this day.",
    locations = cells_body(columns = change, rows = 1),
    placement = "right"
  ) |>
  tab_footnote(footnote = "All values in USD.") |>
  opt_footnote_marks(marks = "LETTERS") |>
  opt_footnote_spec(spec_ref = "i[x]", spec_ftr = "x.")
This image of a table was generated from the fourth code example in the `tab_footnote()` help file.

Aside from changing the footnote marks to consist of "LETTERS", we've also changed the way the marks are formatted. In our use of opt_footnote_spec(), the spec_ref option governs the footnote marks across the table. Here, we describe marks that are italicized and set between square brackets (with "i[x]"). The spec_ftr argument is used for the footer representation of the footnote marks. As described in the example with "x.", it is rendered as a footnote mark followed by a period.

Function ID


Function Introduced

v0.2.0.5 (March 31, 2020)

See Also

Other part creation/modification functions: tab_caption(), tab_header(), tab_info(), tab_options(), tab_row_group(), tab_source_note(), tab_spanner_delim(), tab_spanner(), tab_stub_indent(), tab_stubhead(), tab_style_body(), tab_style()

gt documentation built on June 22, 2024, 11:11 a.m.