John Clark John Clark - 21 days ago 6
R Question

Sort columns of a dataframe by column name

This is possibly a simple question, but I do not know how to order columns alphabetically.

test = data.frame(C = c(0, 2, 4, 7, 8), A = c(4, 2, 4, 7, 8), B = c(1, 3, 8, 3, 2))

# C A B
# 1 0 4 1
# 2 2 2 3
# 3 4 4 8
# 4 7 7 3
# 5 8 8 2


I like to order the columns by column names alphabetically, to achieve

# A B C
# 1 4 1 0
# 2 2 3 2
# 3 4 8 4
# 4 7 3 7
# 5 8 2 8


For others I want my own defined order:

# B A C
# 1 4 1 0
# 2 2 3 2
# 3 4 8 4
# 4 7 3 7
# 5 8 2 8


Please note that my datasets are huge, with 10000 variables. So the process needs to be more automated.

Answer

You can use order on the names, and use that to order the columns when subsetting:

test[ , order(names(test))]
  A B C
1 4 1 0
2 2 3 2
3 4 8 4
4 7 3 7
5 8 2 8

For your own defined order, you will need to define your own mapping of the names to the ordering. This would depend on how you would like to do this, but swapping whatever function would to this with order above should give your desired output.

You may for example have a look at Order a data frame's rows according to a target vector that specifies the desired order, i.e. you can match your data frame names against a target vector containing the desired column order.