How to Save Multiple Plots to PDF in R


You can use the following basic syntax to save multiple plots to a PDF in R:

#specify path to save PDF to
destination = 'C:\\Users\\Bob\\Documents\\my_plots.pdf'

#open PDF
pdf(file=destination)

#specify to save plots in 2x2 grid
par(mfrow = c(2,2))

#save plots to PDF
for (i in 1:4) {   
  x=rnorm(i)  
  y=rnorm(i)  
  plot(x, y)   
}

#turn off PDF plotting
dev.off() 

The following examples show how to use this syntax in practice.

Example 1: Save Multiple Plots to Same Page in PDF

The following code shows how to save several plots to the same page in a PDF:

#specify path to save PDF to
destination = 'C:\\Users\\Bob\\Documents\\my_plots.pdf'

#open PDF
pdf(file=destination)

#specify to save plots in 2x2 grid
par(mfrow = c(2,2))

#save plots to PDF
for (i in 1:4) {   
  x=rnorm(i)  
  y=rnorm(i)  
  plot(x, y)   
}

#turn off PDF plotting
dev.off() 

Once I navigate to the PDF in the specified location on my computer, I find the following one-page PDF with four plots on it:

Example 2: Save Multiple Plots to Different Pages in PDF

To save multiple plots to different pages in a PDF, I can simply remove the par() function:

#specify path to save PDF to
destination = 'C:\\Users\\Bob\\Documents\\my_plots.pdf'

#open PDF
pdf(file=destination)

#save plots to PDF
for (i in 1:4) {   
  x=rnorm(i)  
  y=rnorm(i)  
  plot(x, y)   
}

#turn off PDF plotting
dev.off() 

Once I navigate to the PDF in the specified location on my computer, I find the a four-page PDF with one plot on each page.

Additional Resources

How to Use the par() Function in R
How to Overlay Plots in R

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