A **five number summary **is a way to summarize a dataset using the following five values:

- The minimum
- The first quartile
- The median
- The third quartile
- The maximum

The five number summary is useful because it provides a concise summary of the distribution of the data in the following ways:

- It tells us where the middle value is located, using the median.
- It tells us how spread out the data is, using the first and third quartiles.
- It tells us the range of the data, using the minimum and the maximum.

The easiest way to calculate a five number summary of a dataset in R is to use the **fivenum()** function from base R:

fivenum(data)

The following example shows how to use this syntax in practice.

**Example 1: Five Number Summary of Vector**

The following code shows how to calculate the five number summary of a numeric vector in R:

#define numeric vector data <- c(4, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 15, 18, 22) #calculate five number summary of data fivenum(data) [1] 4 7 12 15 22

From the output we can see:

- The minimum:
**4** - The first quartile:
**7** - The median:
**12** - The third quartile:
**15** - The maximum:
**22**

We can quickly visualize the five number summary by creating a boxplot:

boxplot(data) [1] 4 7 12 15 22

Here’s how to interpret the boxplot:

- The line at the bottom of the plot represents the minimum value (
**4**). - The line at the bottom of the box represents the first quartile (
**7**). - The line in the middle of the box represents the median (
**12**). - The line at the top of the box represents the third quartile (
**15**). - The line at the top of the plot represents the maximum value (
**22**).

**Example 2: Five Number Summary of Column in Data Frame**

The following code shows how to calculate the five number summary of a specific column in a data frame:

#create data frame df <- data.frame(team=c('A', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'E', 'F', 'G', 'H'), points=c(99, 90, 86, 88, 95, 87, 85, 89), assists=c(33, 28, 31, 39, 34, 30, 29, 25), rebounds=c(30, 28, 24, 24, 28, 30, 31, 35)) #calculate five number summary of points column fivenum(df$points) [1] 85.0 86.5 88.5 92.5 99.0

**Example 3: Five Number Summary of Multiple Columns**

The following code shows how to use the **sapply()** function to calculate the five number summary of several columns in a data frame at once:

#create data frame df <- data.frame(team=c('A', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'E', 'F', 'G', 'H'), points=c(99, 90, 86, 88, 95, 87, 85, 89), assists=c(33, 28, 31, 39, 34, 30, 29, 25), rebounds=c(30, 28, 24, 24, 28, 30, 31, 35)) #calculate five number summary of points, assists, and rebounds column sapply(df[c('points', 'assists', 'rebounds')], fivenum) points assists rebounds [1,] 85.0 25.0 24.0 [2,] 86.5 28.5 26.0 [3,] 88.5 30.5 29.0 [4,] 92.5 33.5 30.5 [5,] 99.0 39.0 35.0

**Related:** A Guide to apply(), lapply(), sapply(), and tapply() in R

**Additional Resources**

How to Create Summary Tables in R

How to Find the Range in R

How to Remove Outliers in R