How to print tables with absolute and relative values in R


In R, there are several ways to generate tables. while the table() function generates tables with absolute numbers, the prop.table() function returns tables with relative values (percentages). However, I couldn't find a function to return a table with both absolute and relative values.

In this blog post, I show how to generate such a table.

Generate a random dataframe

In the first code snippet, we generate a random dataframe with two variables: Sex and Age. As you can see, generating random dataframes is very easy and straightforward with Tyler Rinker's Wakefield package.

df <- r_data_frame(n=200, sex, age)

Write the function

My function tab.func() combines three R functions:

  • describe() from the Hmisc package to return an object of class describe containing absolute and relative frequency values of a factor variable. To access these values, we need to subset this object using $values. This will return a matrix with the desired values.

  • t() to transpose this matrix, and

  • as.table() to transform this matrix into a table.

tab.func <- function (x) {
  y <- as.table(t(Hmisc::describe(x)$values))
  colnames(y) <- c('**n**', '**%**')

(UPDATE: In version 4 of the Hmisc package, the describe() function was rewritten. My function only works up to version 3.17.4)

The double asterisks around n and % are Markdown code used to return bold text.

Deploy the function

In the following code snippet, we deploy this function to a categorial variable (Sex) which is part of the dataframe df.

mytable <- tab.func(df$Sex)

             caption = 'Table with absolute numbers and percentages')
n %
A Male, Female 96, 104

Finaly, we print this table with the kable() function from the knitr package.


About norbert

I am post doc at the Department of Medical Psychology and Sociology, Leipzig University (GER), with degrees in sociology (MA) and public health (MPH).
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