Sunday, 11 May 2014

Arranging Multiple Plots in R

Arranging several plots in R as part of a grid isn't always straightforward. Imagine you had three plots and wanted one to stretch along the bottom row and place the other two above (i.e. Figure 1).

Figure 1: Sketch of intended placement

Using grid.arrange, it is possible to plot several outputs, but the function will automatically place them into a default grid structure (Figure 2).

grid.arrange(p1, p2, p3, p4, p5, p6, p7, p8, p9)

Figure 2: Using grid.arrange

This may be perfectly adequate if they are to be of equal size. However, this isn't always ideal. For example, when aligning the plots below, the result becomes cluttered (Figure 3).

grid.arrange(p3, p4, p5)

Figure 3: Work in progress

As per my original sketch, I want the top plot (with no legend) to run along the bottom row and the other two plots to be positioned side by side above.

The following example shows how this can be accomplished. First, a new layout is created, here a 2 x 2 grid. This is then assigned to a viewport and pushed onto the plotting device. It is then possible to draw each plot onto its own position on the grid. Specifically, a vector can be assigned to rows of columns that will span a plot over multiple cells. The resulting output is shown in Figure 4.

grid.newpage() # Open a new page on grid device
pushViewport(viewport(layout = grid.layout(3, 2)))
print(p3, vp = viewport(layout.pos.row = 3, layout.pos.col = 1:2))
print(p4, vp = viewport(layout.pos.row = 1:2, layout.pos.col = 1)) 
print(p5, vp = viewport(layout.pos.row = 1:2, layout.pos.col = 2:2))

Figure 4: Replicating my original sketch