Fast Writing of Data From R to txt|csv Files: readr package

There are many solutions for writing data from R to txt (i.e., tsv: tab-separated values) or csv (comma-separated values) files. In our previous articles, we described R base functions (write.table() and write.csv()) for writing data from R to txt|csv files R.

In this article, we’ll describe a most modern R package readr, developed by Hadley Wickham, for fast reading and writing delimited files. It contains the function write_delim(), write_csv() and write_tsv() to export easily a data from R.

Compared to R base functions (write.csv() and write.table()), readr functions:

  1. are much faster (X2),
  2. never write row names.

Fast Writing of Data From R to txt|csv Files: readr package

Preleminary tasks

Launch RStudio as described here: Running RStudio and setting up your working directory

Installing and loading readr

# Installing
# Loading

readr functions for writing data

The function rwrite_delim()[in readr package] is a general function to export a data table from R. Depending on the format of your file, you can also use:

  • write_csv(): to write a comma (“,”) separated values
  • write_tsv(): to write a tab separated (“\t”) values

The simplified format of these functions are, as follow:

# General function
write_delim(x, path, delim = " ")
# Write comma (",") separated value files
write_csv(file, path)
# Write tab ("\t") separated value files
write_tsv(file, path)

  • x: a data frame to be written
  • path: path to the result file
  • delim: Delimiter used to separate values. Must be single character.

Writing data to a file

The R code below exports the built-in R mtcars data set to a tab-separated ( sep = “\t”) file called mtcars.txt in the current working directory:

# Loading mtcars data
# Writing mtcars data to a tsv file
write_tsv(mtcars, path = "mtcars.txt")
# Writing mtcars data to a csv file
write_csv(mtcars, path = "mtcars.csv")


  • Write data from R to a txt (i.e., tsv) file: write_tsv(my_data, path = “my_data.txt”)

  • Write data from R to a csv file: write_csv(my_data, path = “my_data.csv”)


This analysis has been performed using R (ver. 3.2.3).

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