What Is List Data Type in R?


Heather Bennett

What Is List Data Type in R?

In R, a list is a versatile data type that allows you to store different types of objects, such as vectors, matrices, data frames, and even other lists. It is a powerful data structure that provides flexibility and efficiency in handling complex data.

Creating a List

To create a list in R, you can use the list() function. The elements of the list are enclosed within parentheses and separated by commas. Let’s see an example:

my_list <- list("apple", 5, TRUE)

In this example, we created a list named my_list with three elements: “apple”, 5, and TRUE. Note that each element can be of any data type.

Accessing List Elements

You can access individual elements of a list using square brackets []. The index starts from 1 for the first element. Let’s access the second element (“5”) from our previous example:

second_element <- my_list[2]

The output will be:

[1] 5

List Manipulation

Add Elements to a List

To add elements to an existing list, you can use the concatenation operator c(). Let’s add two more elements to our existing list:

new_elements <- c("banana", FALSE)
my_list <- c(my_list, new_elements)

Now, my_list will have five elements: "apple", 5, TRUE, "banana", and FALSE.

Remove Elements from a List

To remove elements from a list, you can use the negative index. Let's remove the third element ("TRUE") from our list:

my_list <- my_list[-3]

After this operation, my_list will contain four elements: "apple", 5, "banana", and FALSE.

Nested Lists

A nested list is a list that contains other lists as its elements. This allows for creating hierarchical structures to represent complex data. Let's see an example:

nested_list <- list(c(1, 2, 3), c("a", "b", "c"), c(TRUE, FALSE))

In this example, nested_list is a list that contains three sublists. Each sublist represents a different type of data: numeric values, character values, and logical values.


The list data type in R provides a flexible way to store and manipulate heterogeneous data. It allows you to combine different types of objects into a single structure and enables efficient handling of complex data. Use lists when you need to organize multiple related objects or create hierarchical structures within your data analysis workflows in R.

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