How Do You Check the Data Type for a DataFrame in R?


Heather Bennett

When working with data analysis in R, it is important to understand the type of data you are dealing with. R provides various functions to check the data type of objects, including DataFrames. In this tutorial, we will explore different methods to check the data type for a DataFrame in R.

Using the str() Function

To check the data type of a DataFrame, we can use the str() function. This function displays the structure of an object and provides information about its class and data types.

Let’s assume we have a DataFrame called df. To check its data types, simply use:


The output will provide a summary of the DataFrame’s structure, including column names and their respective classes and data types.

Checking Specific Column Data Types

If you want to check only specific column(s) within your DataFrame, you can use indexing along with the sapply() function.

# Checking specific column(s)
sapply(df[, c("column1", "column2")], class)

This will return a vector with the class (data type) of each specified column within the DataFrame.

Using dplyr Package

The dplyr package provides convenient functions for working with DataFrames. To check the data types using dplyr, we can use the dplyr::glimpse() function.



This will display a compact overview of your DataFrame’s structure, showing variable names along with their classes (data types).

List of Common Data Types in R

Here is a list of some common data types you may encounter while working with DataFrames in R:

  • numeric: Represents numerical values (e.g., integers, decimals).
  • integer: Represents whole numbers.
  • character: Represents text or string values.
  • logical: Represents Boolean values (TRUE or FALSE).
  • factor: Represents categorical variables with predefined levels.
  • Date: Represents dates without time.
  • Date-Time: Represents dates and times together.


In this tutorial, we explored different methods to check the data type for a DataFrame in R. We learned how to use the str() function to get an overview of the entire DataFrame’s structure, as well as how to use indexing and the sapply() function to check specific column(s) within the DataFrame. Additionally, we discovered how to use the dplyr::glimpse() function from the dplyr package for a compact overview of the DataFrame’s structure. Finally, we provided a list of common data types that you may encounter while working with DataFrames in R.

By understanding the data types within your DataFrame, you can effectively manipulate and analyze your data using appropriate functions and techniques.

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