4) Create a Date with a specific Date and Time format.

This Blog entry is from the Loading and Shaping section in Learn R.

Dates have rather special treatment in R, not least that data can be presented in raw data in a variety of formats (e.g. DDMMYYYY,  DD/MM/YYYY).  The date data type in R exists for the purpose of interacting and manipulating dates.

A vector of dates would start out as a character vector:

DatesString <- c("22/02/1732","30/10/1735","13/04/1743","16/03/1751")

Run the line of script to console:


It can be observed that the dates are of the form charterer by typing:


Run the line of script to console:


To convert the DatesString vector to the correct data type, R needs to know where to find the year component, the day component and the month component while knowing how to separate the elements.  The following tokens specify the components:

·         %Y is a four digit number.

·         %y is a two digit number.

·         %m is the month as a number.

·         %d is the day as a number.

·         %b is a short month (such as Jan).

·         %B is a long month (such as January)

Outside of the % tokenisation characters can be specified that should be excluded in the overall tokenisation.  To convert the character string vector of dates to a date vector type:

Dates <- as.Date(DatesString,format="%d/%m/%Y")

Run the line of script to console. It can be observed that the Dates vector has been created in the environment pane:


Naturally the dates vector can be written out to the console by typing:


Run the line of script to console: