R Convert Data Frame Columns from Factor to Character (2 Examples)

In this tutorial, I’ll show how to change vectors and data frame columns from factor to character class in the R programming language.

Example Data

data <- data.frame(col1 = c("L", "k", "AA", "k", "xixi"),  # Creating some example data
                   col2 = LETTERS[10:6],
                   col3 = 11:15,
                   col4 = "lala")
data                                                       # Showing example data in console
#   col1 col2 col3 col4
# 1    L    J   11 lala
# 2    k    I   12 lala
# 3   AA    H   13 lala
# 4    k    G   14 lala
# 5 xixi    F   15 lala
sapply(data, class)                                        # Returning classes of all columns
#     col1      col2      col3      col4 
# "factor"  "factor" "integer"  "factor"

Example 1: Converting Column Vector to Character Class

data$col1 <- as.character(data$col1)

# Convert first column to character

sapply(data, class)                                        # Returning classes of all columns
#        col1        col2        col3        col4 
# "character"    "factor"   "integer"    "factor"

Example 2: Converting All Factor Columns to Character Class

data[sapply(data, is.factor)] <-                           # Converting all factor variables to character class
  lapply(data[sapply(data, is.factor)], as.character)
sapply(data, class)                                        # Returning classes of all columns
#        col1        col2        col3        col4 
# "character" "character"   "integer" "character"

Further Resources & Related Tutorials

You may find some additional R tutorials on topics such as factors, numeric values,, and character strings below:

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