8.1 What is R markdown?

R markdown is a simple and easy to use plain text language used to combine your R code, results from your data analysis (including plots and tables) and written commentary into a single nicely formatted and reproducible document (like a report, publication, thesis chapter or a web page like this one).

Technically, R markdown is a variant of another language (yet another language!) called Markdown and both are a type of ‘markup’ language. A markup language simply provides a way of creating an easy to read plain text file which can incorporate formatted text, images, headers and links to other documents. Don’t worry about the details for the moment, although if you’re interested you can find more information about markup languages here. Actually, if it makes you feel any better all of you will have been exposed to a markup language before, as most of the internet content you digest every day is underpinned by a markup language called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Anyway, the main point is that R markdown is very easy to learn (much, much easier than HTML) and when used with RStudio it’s ridiculously easy to integrate into your workflow to produce feature rich content (so why wouldn’t you?!).