Brett Klamer

Compile Hadley’s R Packages to a PDF

Hadley Wickham's book, R Packages, is now published through O‚ÄôReilly. The source is available on GitHub and a version compiled for the web is at Even though the HTML format is nice, I still like to have a PDF around. Here’s how to compile it from the source. (Please consider buying a copy to support his work.)

You will need R, LaTeX, pandoc, and knitr to create the PDF.

Download the Source

Extract to your folder of choice.

Install R Package Dependencies

First check if you have the latest version of R installed and update all installed packages.

# Install CRAN packages
install.packages(c("rmarkdown", "pryr", "nycflights13", "png", 
                   "stringi", "lubridate", "testthat"))

# Install development packages
## Note that r-pkgs still uses the old bookdown package Hadley originally
## developed. The new bookdown package is being developed by rstudio/Yihui Xie.
## Since there is currently an issue in the oldbookdown package, You can install
## my fork to get things working.

Install TeX Dependencies

If you have never used XeLaTeX, there may be a few packages you will need to manually install in MiKTeX or TeX Live.

Use Hadley’s Build Script

  1. Double click the r-pkgs.Rproj file and open with RStudio.
  2. Open the /book/build-book.r file.
  3. Run the build-book.r file line by line to see how it works and catch any errors. You’re most likely to run into issues at line 36: lapply(chapters, render_chapter) or line 57 when the LaTeX compilation starts.

My resulting PDF is 3.7MB and 203 pages as of 2015-04-15. It seems to be an exact duplicate of the html version (although there may be some errors hiding in the corners).

Better PDF Output

Now you can modify the LaTeX source to change the book’s appearance. For example, modify the document class of book/r-packages.tex with

\documentclass[letterpaper, 11pt, oneside]{scrbook}

Then re-run book/build-book.r. The sky is the limit for any other changes you wish to make…

Published: 2014-09-01
Last Updated: 2016-03-26