Text annotations in ggplot2

The geom_text and geom_label functions allows adding text or labels, respectively, to plots created with ggplot2. You can add some annotations to some coordinates or label data points.

# install.packages("ggplot2")
library(ggplot2)

# install.packages("maps")
library(maps)

df <- data.frame(x = state.center$x, y = state.center$y,
                 state = state.name)

p <- ggplot(df, aes(x = x, y = y)) + 
       geom_polygon(data = map_data("state"),
                    color = "white",
                    aes(x = long, y = lat,
                        fill = map_data("state")$region,
                        group = group)) +
       guides(fill = FALSE)
p

In this guide we are going to use the following example plot.

ggplot2 map

Adding text with geom_text

Use the geom_text function to add texts in ggplot2

Adding text annotations

p + 
  geom_text(aes(x = -115, y = 25,
                label = "Map of the United States"),
            stat = "unique")

Set stat = "unique", otherwise the label will be redrawn for each data point on your data frame.

Customize the size and the color of the text using geom_text

Customizing the annotations

There are several arguments that you can customize, such as the color or the size of the text.

p + 
  geom_text(aes(x = -115, y = 25,
                label = "Map of the United States"),
            stat = "unique",
            size = 5, color = "red")

Label observations in ggplot2

If your data set contains a variable with groups or labels you can pass it to the label argument.

p + 
  geom_text(aes(label = state))

Adding labels with geom_label

If you prefer adding labels instead of raw text use geom_label. The function behaves the same as the previous but with a background, making the text easier to read.

Label annotation

p + 
  geom_label(aes(x = -115, y = 25,
                label = "Map of the United States"),
            stat = "unique")

Use the geom_label function to add labels in ggplot2

Customizing the label

p + 
  geom_label(aes(x = -115, y = 25,
                label = "Map of the United States"),
            stat = "unique",
            size = 5, color = "red", fill = "green")

Customize the colors and size of geom_label

Labelling points

p + 
  geom_label(aes(label = state))

Labelling observations in ggplot2 with geom_label

Use ggrepel to avoid overlapping of the texts or labels.

Avoid overlapping with ggrepel

The text and the labels are placed on the coordinates you set, but can overlap. The ggrepel package provides geom_text_repel and geom_label_repel functions, which make the labels repel away from each other as much as possible.

geom_text_repel function from ggrepel to avoid overlapping

geom_text_repel

# install.packages("ggrepel")
library(ggrepel)

p + 
  geom_text_repel(aes(label = state))

Use the geom_label_repel function to add labels without overlapping in ggplot2

geom_label_repel

# install.packages("ggrepel")
library(ggrepel)

p + 
  geom_label_repel(aes(label = state))

You can customize the colors, fonts and other arguments the same way as with geom_text or geom_label. See the package examples for more use cases.

Use markdown and HTML with ggtext

If you want to fully customize you annotations use the geom_richtext function from ggtext, which allows you to add markdown and HTML formatting to your text annotations.

Add rich text

# install.packages("ggtext")
library(ggtext)

lab <- "*Map* of <span style = 'color:red'>USA</span>"
p + 
  geom_richtext(aes(x = -115, y = 25,
                    label = lab))

geom_richtext function to add rich text, HTML and markdown in ggplot2

Rotate the text

You can even rotate the text, a feature that is not available with default ggplot2.

# install.packages("ggtext")
library(ggtext)

lab <- "*Map* of <span style = 'color:red'>USA</span>"
p + 
  geom_richtext(aes(x = -115, y = 27,
                    label = lab),
                angle = 25)

Rotate labels or texts in ggplot2

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See also