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When we are talking about table generators in R, knitr’s kable() function is usually a popular choice because of its ultimate simplicity. Unlike those powerful table rendering engines such as xtable, the philosophy behind knitr::kable() is to make it easy for programmers to use. Just as it claimed in its function description,

This is a very simple table generator. It is simple by design. It is not intended to replace any other R packages for making tables. - Yihui

However, the ultimate simplicity of kable() also brought troubles to some of us, especially for new R users, who may not have a lot of experience on generating tables in R. It is not rare to see people including experienced users asking questions like how to center/left-align a table on Stack Overflow. Also, for me personally, I found myself repeatedly parsing CSS into kable() for some very simple features like striped lines. For LaTeX, it’s even worse since I’m almost Stack Overflow dependent for LaTeX… That’s why this package kableExtra was created.

I hope with kableExtra, you can

This package can load required LaTeX package automatically in vanilla R Markdown. For customized R Markdown templates, it is recommended to load related LaTeX packages manually.


Pipable syntax

kableExtra is NOT a table generating package. It is a package that can “add features” to a kable() output using a syntax that every useR loves - the pipes %>%. We see similar approaches to deal with plots in packages like ggvis and plotly. There is no reason why we cannot use it with tables.

Unified functions for both HTML and PDF

Most functionalities in kableExtra can work in both HTML and PDF. In fact, as long as you specifies format in kable() (which can be set globally through option knitr.table.format), functions in this package will pick the right way to manipulate the table be themselves. As a result, if users want to left align the table, kable(...) %>% kable_styling(position = "left") will work in both HTML and PDF. Recently, we also introduced a new kbl() function acting as an alternative to kable but provides better documentation and format detection.



# For dev version

Basic Usage

dt <- mtcars[1:5, 1:4]

# HTML table
kbl(dt, caption = "Demo Table") %>%
  kable_styling(bootstrap_options = "striped",
                full_width = F) %>%
  add_header_above(c(" ", "Group 1" = 2, "Group 2[note]" = 2)) %>%
  footnote(c("table footnote"))

# LaTeX Table
kbl(dt, booktabs = T, caption = "Demo Table") %>%
  kable_styling(latex_options = c("striped", "hold_position"),
                full_width = F) %>%
  add_header_above(c(" ", "Group 1" = 2, "Group 2[note]" = 2)) %>%
  footnote(c("table footnote"))


More Information

For more information, please check the package vignette.


I would like to thank colleagues at Hebrew SeniorLife Marcus Institute for Aging Research and the Boston Pepper Center for their input. I also would like to appreciate the mentorship from Tom Travison ([@tgt75](https://twitter.com/tgt75)) and all the efforts from the open source community, which help this package keep getting better.