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Posted by on Sep 6, 2010 in R Spatial, Resources | 6 comments

R Maps

This is an updated version of my Making Maps with R tutorial. I think the code is lot simpler and it also includes some data for you to play around with.


Spatial data are becoming increasingly common, as are the tools available in R to process it. Of course one of the best ways of visualizing spatial data is through a map. Maps need to be well thought out. Not least, the selected colours need to be appropriate and sufficient context is provided through the use of a legend, title, scale bar and north arrow. The worksheet will demonstrate how to produce a map with R that includes all these elements.

Data Requirements:

London Sport Participation Shapefile. Download (requires unzipping)

Install the following packages (if you haven’t already done so):

maptools, RColorBrewer, classInt

Click here to view the tutorial code.


  1. Hi.

    You didn’t tag this post with “r” so it didn’t appear on

    If you want more visitors – please add the “r” tag.

    Cheers 🙂

  2. Readers may also like to try the spplot function from package sp .

  3. Advise pls. An new 2 R. Trying 2 map a shp based on ur guide. After loading the packages on R2.15, attempts 2 read the file generates error, Error: could not find function “readShapePoly”.

    Tnx in advance.

  4. Hello,

    @afro: have you installed the maptools package?

    My comment:
    When plotting the legend, I get the error that objects of type “closure” cannot be indexed.
    I know that there is no support with the scripts but maybe some visitor happens to know.

    I appreciate these scripts very much James, thank you!


  5. @afro: I had the same error message, but I eventually discovered that the directory that I had set up didn’t hold all of the necessary files (there should be five london_sport files: .shp, .dbf, .prj, .sbn, and .shx). You might want to check that they’re all in the same workind directory.

    Hope this helps.

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