How to Append Rows to a Data Frame in R

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Appending rows to a data frame is a common data manipulation task in R, particularly when you’re working with disparate datasets or constructing data frames in a piecemeal fashion. The ability to append rows efficiently can save both time and computational resources. This comprehensive article aims to cover various methods for appending rows to an existing data frame, their advantages, limitations, and best practices.

Reasons for Appending Rows

Why might you need to append rows to a data frame? Several reasons could include:

  1. Data Aggregation: Combining different datasets that have the same variables.
  2. Time-Series Data: Adding new observations to an existing dataset.
  3. Data Collection: Accumulating data over time or through different channels.

Methods for Appending Rows

There are multiple ways to append rows to a data frame in R, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Using rbind( )

The rbind() function is the most straightforward method to append rows. It combines its arguments row-wise.

# Create two data frames with the same columns
df1 <- data.frame(a = 1:3, b = c("a", "b", "c"))
df2 <- data.frame(a = 4:6, b = c("d", "e", "f"))

# Append df2 to df1
result <- rbind(df1, df2)


  • Both data frames must have the same column names and types.
  • May be inefficient for very large datasets due to copying.

Appending Rows with dplyr

If you’re using the dplyr package, the bind_rows() function can be very useful.


# Append df2 to df1
result <- bind_rows(df1, df2)


  • Can automatically match by column names.
  • Faster than rbind() for large data frames.

Using data.table Package

The data.table package provides a fast and efficient data frame-like object. You can append rows using the rbindlist() function or by reference.


# Convert to data.table objects

# Append by reference
df1 <- rbind(df1, df2)


  • Very fast and memory-efficient for large datasets.
  • Can append by reference, avoiding copies.

Row Binding with bind_rows( )

This function is part of the dplyr package and is similar to bind_rows() but can take a list of data frames as input.

# Create two data frames with the same columns
df1 <- data.frame(a = 1:3, b = c("a", "b", "c"))
df2 <- data.frame(a = 4:6, b = c("d", "e", "f"))

# Create a list of data frames
list_of_dfs <- list(df1, df2)

# Append all data frames in the list
result <- bind_rows(list_of_dfs)

Appending a Single Row

Appending a single row can be accomplished using rbind() or by converting the single row to a data frame and then using any of the above methods.

# Append a single row using rbind
new_row <- data.frame(a = 7, b = "g")
result <- rbind(df1, new_row)


Appending rows to a data frame in R is a basic but important operation. Various methods are available for appending rows, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Your choice of method will depend on your specific needs, including the size of your data, the complexity of your operations, and your desired outcome.

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