All the {hrbrthemes}

Recently, as part of a glorious procrastinative effort, I started trying to build some {ggplot2} themes. It’s been years since I really tried tweaking themes, because ever since {hrbrthemes} rolled around I just went for those as a safe default.
I have been using theme_ipsum_rc as my go-to theme with minor tweaks here and there for so long that I almost forgot that there’s a lot more where that came from – the package website however doesn’t give a complete preview of all the themes (and it’s outdated at the time of this writing).

So I thought I’ll do it myself and put all the themes in one place with some {patchwork}-aided arrangements for a clear overview.

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library(ggplot2)
library(hrbrthemes)
library(patchwork)

To use these these themes, you’ll have to make sure you have the corresponding fonts installed. You can import them like so:

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import_public_sans()
import_titillium_web()
import_econ_sans()
import_tinyhand()
import_plex_sans()
import_roboto_condensed()

Depending on your output device, you might have to

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extrafont::loadfonts()

Check if extrafont knows about your fonts:

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extrafont::fonts()

To install them system-wide, you’ll want to go to the file path the functions give you (i.e. the path to hrbrthemes in your package library) and install the fonts in whichever way you system requires.
In my experience, that should at least be enough to use them with PNG or PDF output, but your mileage may vary. You may find {showtext} helpful, or use {ragg} as an alternative device, etc. pp.

Anyway, here’s a quick list of the included {hrbrthemes} themes as of v0.8.0:

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# List all themes in package
pkg_themes <- getNamespaceExports("hrbrthemes")
pkg_themes <- sort(pkg_themes[grepl("^theme\\_", pkg_themes)])

glue::glue("- `{pkg_themes}()`")
  • theme_ft_rc()
  • theme_ipsum()
  • theme_ipsum_es()
  • theme_ipsum_ps()
  • theme_ipsum_pub()
  • theme_ipsum_rc()
  • theme_ipsum_tw()
  • theme_modern_rc()
  • theme_tinyhand()

We can group them three ways:

  • The ipsum-family with its multiple different font variants.
  • The dark themes modern_rc and theme_ft_rc, both using Roboto Condensed.
  • I don’t know why theme_tinyhand is there as well.

For comparison, I’ll use your standard run of the mill iris plot, because at this point I guess this is the quick brown fox of ggplots.

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# Example plot
p_facets <- ggplot(iris, aes(x = Sepal.Length, y = Sepal.Width, color = Species)) +
  facet_wrap(~Species) +
  geom_point(size = 2) +
  labs(
    subtitle = "Something something flowers and stuff",
    x = "Sepal Length", y = "Sepal Width",
    caption = "I am also here!"
  )

p_facets +
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "ggplot2::theme_minimal", subtitle = "Arial, probably?") +
  theme_minimal()

I’ll also be using the ipsum and ft color palettes provided by {hrbrthemes}, for the light and dark theme variants respectively – this post is not about color palettes, that’s a rabbit hole for another day, but I might as well include them for the themes’ presumed “intended look”.

The ipsum themes

Light themes with neat fonts and relatively minute axis labels and text, as well as large margins. Call me a phillistine, but I tend to bump up the text size and reduce the strip margins a little because otherwise I can’t see anything in certain scenarios, but I if you give the plots enough space, they do look really neat.

theme_ipsum (Arial Narrow)

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p1 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "theme_ipsum", subtitle = "Arial Narrow") +
  theme_ipsum()
p1

theme_ipsum_es (Econ Sans)

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p2 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "theme_ipsum_es", subtitle = "Econ Sans") +
  theme_ipsum_es()
p2

theme_ipsum_ps (IBM Plex Sans)

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p3 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "theme_ipsum_ps", subtitle = "IBM Plex Sans") +
  theme_ipsum_ps()
p3

theme_ipsum_pub (Public Sans)

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p4 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "theme_ipsum_pub", subtitle = "Public Sans") +
  theme_ipsum_pub()
p4

theme_ipsum_rc (Roboto Condensed)

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p5 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "theme_ipsum_rc", subtitle = "Roboto Condensed") +
  theme_ipsum_rc()
p5

theme_ipsum_tw (Titillium Web)

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p6 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "theme_ipsum_tw", subtitle = "Titillium Web") +
  theme_ipsum_tw()
p6

All the ipsum theme variations

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# Plotting them in two rows (<3 patchwork)
((p1 + p2 + p3) / (p4 + p5 + p6))

The modern/dark themes

Dark themes are all the rage, and to quote a friend of mine (who still refuses to start a blog for some reason):

Because, according to Financial Times Datavizard John Burn-Murdoch, “they look cool”

Both themes include calls to ggplot2::update_geom_defaults to change the default colors (as the function name suggests), which is something to keep in mind if you’re using multiple themes in the same R session and don’t manually set any colors as I am doing here via scale_color_*.

theme_modern_rc (Robot Condensed) (dark)

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p7 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ft() +
  labs(title = "theme_modern_rc", subtitle = "Roboto Condensed") +
  theme_modern_rc()
p7

theme_ft_rc (Robot Condensed) (dark)

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p8 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ft() +
  labs(title = "theme_ft_rc", subtitle = "Roboto Condensed") +
  theme_ft_rc()
p8

All the dark themes

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(p7 + p8) / (p8 + p7)

Whatever the hell this is

I dunno, man.

theme_tinyhand (“Something you should never use”)

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p9 <- p_facets + 
  scale_color_ipsum() +
  labs(title = "theme_tinyhand", subtitle = "Tinyhand") +
  theme_tinyhand()
p9