How to Adjust Your X-Axis Labels in a Time Series Graph for R programming

Adjust the scale labels on your time series using ggplot

Pierre DeBois


In a time series, it is sometimes necessary to adjust the scale along the x-axis. You have data in which a given R program will set a default label in a way that you do not want. It’s a feature in R programming — The program is adjusting the way the time series data is identified. Yet you have a preference in how it is shown.

Well, there is a way to adjust that label using the ggplot library.

In a previous post on time series data, I showed steps for creating a time series using ggplot.

Within the example in the post is an additional ggplot parameter function called scale_x_date(). which allows you to format the dates along the x-axis.

With just a graph from ggplot, the output allows a time series plot according to a default date scale picked by the program. It would look like the following — note the years on the x-axis…

People don’t normally identify years by .5 or call 2021 “2021.0”. Maybe on Star Trek…but not in current life.

You want something more representative of the days and weeks that make up a year.

That’s where scale_x_date() comes in. The parameter introduces more user control so that the dates are displayed to the formats your audience prefers.

The key step is to add the scale_x_date() to your graph syntax, just like you would for anything else in ggplot. So it would look like the following, where the scale_x_date() is added :

plot generated by ggplot + scale_x_date()

Within the scale function, you add a parameter called a date label. Date labels allow you to select the appearance of your time series scale. There are 9 date labels available, each called with a percentage sign in front of a letter representing the day scale you want.

The date label choices include the following:



Pierre DeBois

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