R – Formatting Decimal places in R


I have a number, for example 1.128347132904321674821 that I would like to show as only two decimal places when output to screen (or written to a file). How does one do that?

x <- 1.128347132904321674821


The use of:


Has been suggested as a possible answer. Is there a way to specify this within a script for one-time use? When I add it to my script it doesn't seem to do anything different and I'm not interested in a lot of re-typing to format each number (I'm automating a very large report).

Answer: round(x, digits=2)

Best Solution

Background: Some answers suggested on this page (e.g., signif, options(digits=...)) do not guarantee that a certain number of decimals are displayed for an arbitrary number. I presume this is a design feature in R whereby good scientific practice involves showing a certain number of digits based on principles of "significant figures". However, in many domains (e.g., APA style, business reports) formatting requirements dictate that a certain number of decimal places are displayed. This is often done for consistency and standardisation purposes rather than being concerned with significant figures.


The following code shows exactly two decimal places for the number x.

format(round(x, 2), nsmall = 2)

For example:

format(round(1.20, 2), nsmall = 2)
# [1] "1.20"
format(round(1, 2), nsmall = 2)
# [1] "1.00"
format(round(1.1234, 2), nsmall = 2)
# [1] "1.12"

A more general function is as follows where x is the number and k is the number of decimals to show. trimws removes any leading white space which can be useful if you have a vector of numbers.

specify_decimal <- function(x, k) trimws(format(round(x, k), nsmall=k))


specify_decimal(1234, 5)
# [1] "1234.00000"
specify_decimal(0.1234, 5)
# [1] "0.12340"