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How to Edit R Charts in Adobe Illustrator

A detailed guide for R users who want to polish their charts in the popular graphic design app for readability and aesthetics.

When it comes to to visualization in R, most people stay completely in R. This is fine when your charts are specifically for analysis, because you’re the only who looks at them. You don’t need to add context, explain visual encodings, or make things look nice. The goal is to produce graphs in rapid fashion so that you can make sense of your data.

However, when it comes time to produce graphics for a wider audience, it can be useful and more efficient to export your chart as a PDF and edit in vector software such as Adobe Illustrator or its open source alternative Inkscape. We covered the latter already. Inkscape is free, but the usability and setup process isn’t as straightforward as Illustrator.

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About the Author

Nathan Yau is a statistician who works primarily with visualization. He earned his PhD in statistics from UCLA, is the author of two best-selling books — Data Points and Visualize This — and runs FlowingData. Introvert. Likes food. Likes beer.