Turn Off Scientific Notation in R

While essential for compactly expressing large or small numbers, scientific notation in R may pose challenges for users seeking precision or clarity in data representation. Two fundamental R functions, options() and format(), provide practical ways to turn off scientific notation.

  • Save

By default, R displays numeric values using this kind of notation, affecting readability, especially in contexts where exact numerical values are crucial, such as financial data or precise measurements. In this post, we will briefly look at scientific notation in R and explore how these functions offer a solution to enhance data presentation and meet the specific we might have.

Table of Contents


Before getting into the methods to remove scientific notation in R, ensure you have R installed on your system. It is also advisable to update R to the latest version to access the most recent features and security enhancements. It is assumed that you are familiar with basic R operations for a smooth understanding of the techniques presented in this post. If you’re new to R, consider acquainting yourself with the fundamental operations within the R environment. This will help you navigate and implement the strategies discussed effortlessly.

Understanding Scientific Notation in R

Scientific notation is a shorthand method for expressing very large or very small numbers, commonly used in mathematics and sciences. In R, numeric values are displayed in scientific notation by default when they are either very large (e.g., 1.23e+06) or very small (e.g., 1.23e-06). This default behavior is designed to represent such values, ensuring clarity and conciseness efficiently. While scientific notation is practical for many applications, it can be less desirable in scenarios where exact numeric representation is critical. In this post, we will explore how R employs scientific notation by default and learn easy methods for turning it off to enhance data readability and precision.

How to Turn Off Scientific Notation in R

We can use various functions to turn off scientific notation in R to regain control over the display of numeric values. A straightforward method specifies the desired format using the options() function. For instance, we can use options(scipen = 999) to suppress scientific notation. Additionally, the format() function offers flexibility, allowing users to customize numeric representation.

Let us explore these methods through practical examples. In the first code chunk, we will use options() to turn off scientific notation in R globally. The second code chunk will demonstrate the format() function to achieve a similar outcome. This hands-on approach will empower us to adapt their R environment to meet specific formatting preferences and enhance the clarity of numeric output in their analyses.

Using R’s options() Function to Turn Off Scientific Notation

As previously mentioned, we can use the options() function in R to control the display of numeric values. Specifically, we can use it to turn off scientific notation. Here, the key parameter for our purpose is scipen. By setting scipen to a high value (e.g., 999), we effectively turn off the automatic switch to scientific notation. This ensures that numeric values are presented in their full form.

Here is a code chunk illustrating how to implement this approach:

# Numeric values displayed in scientific notation
large_number <- 1234567893839
print(large_number)Code language: R (r)

After applying the options() function:

# Turn off scientific notation using options()
options(scipen = 999)

# Now, numeric values will be displayed without scientific notation
print(large_number)Code language: PHP (php)

Here is the output of both printing functions (i.e., before and after turning off scientific notation):

how to turn off scientific notation in R
  • Save

If we want to, for some reason, print using scientific notation again, we can type options(scipen = 0) in the console (or add it to our script).

Using format() Function

Another powerful method to control the display of numeric values and remove scientific notation in R is using the format() function. This function allows for precise formatting, making it a versatile tool for enhancing the presentation of numeric output.

We can use the scientific argument within the format() function to turn off scientific notation. By setting scientific = FALSE, we instruct R to display numeric values without using scientific notation. Here is a practical example:

# Numeric values displayed in scientific notation
large_number <- 91233456789009123
Code language: R (r)

Now, let us see an example of how to use the format() function to disable scientific notation:

# Turn off scientific notation using format()
formatted_number <- format(large_number, scientific = FALSE)
Code language: R (r)

In the code chunk above, formatted_number will now be displayed without scientific notation. The format() function provides fine-grained control over the formatting of numeric values, making it a valuable option when precision and customization are paramount. This approach ensures that the presentation of numeric output aligns with specific preferences or requirements.

  • Save


In conclusion, mastering the methods to turn off scientific notation in R offers greater control and precision in numeric output presentation. By exploring functions like options() and format(), you can tailor their R environment to meet specific formatting preferences. This newfound knowledge empowers you to enhance the clarity and readability of your numeric results. You should incorporate these practices into your R workflow, ensuring that your numerical output aligns seamlessly with your analytical needs. Feel free to reference this post in your theses, reports, or articles, and do not hesitate to share it with others seeking similar insights.


Here are more formatting or data manipulation-related tutorials:

  • Save

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap