This guide is meant to help beginners in R. If you have little programming experience, are in the midst of taking your first statistics class, I have you in mind as I write this guide.

These guides are incredibly difficult to write, because the person on the other end of this guide may come to the table with varying amounts of experience. Perhaps you’ve never dealt ANY programming before, some of you may be familiar with how functions work, or what an “argument” is. Others may not remember their order of operations.

There have been many iterations of guides like these, written at similar levels. It would be irresponsible for me not to mention them or even claim that this guide is better than those previously written.

What I can promise, is that I will be a little more explicit about the systematic components of R such as the data types. In addition, I’ll link out to more detailed sources liberally, so no matter what level you’re coming from, either this guide or the external links will have your answer. This will be particularly helpful if you’re coming to R from a different programming language, because you are more familiar with the terminology, like “strings” or “file paths”.


Starting out, you will likely want to download Rstudio and R. These are different. Roughly speaking, R is the language itself, and Rstudio is the (very nice) environment that you’ll use to interact with the language.

R Language - After finding the “download link” you’ll be asked to pick a CRAN Mirror. Just pick the server that is geographically close to you. These are just copies of the software that are hosted worldwide. The software will download faster if you’re closer to the server (generally).

R Studio - Pick the right operating system and off you go!

Orientation in RStudio