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A violin plot is a compact display of a continuous distribution. It is a blend of geom_boxplot() and geom_density(): a violin plot is a mirrored density plot displayed in the same way as a boxplot.


  mapping = NULL,
  data = NULL,
  stat = "ydensity",
  position = "dodge",
  draw_quantiles = NULL,
  trim = TRUE,
  bounds = c(-Inf, Inf),
  scale = "area",
  na.rm = FALSE,
  orientation = NA,
  show.legend = NA,
  inherit.aes = TRUE

  mapping = NULL,
  data = NULL,
  geom = "violin",
  position = "dodge",
  bw = "nrd0",
  adjust = 1,
  kernel = "gaussian",
  trim = TRUE,
  scale = "area",
  drop = TRUE,
  na.rm = FALSE,
  orientation = NA,
  show.legend = NA,
  inherit.aes = TRUE,
  bounds = c(-Inf, Inf)



Set of aesthetic mappings created by aes(). If specified and inherit.aes = TRUE (the default), it is combined with the default mapping at the top level of the plot. You must supply mapping if there is no plot mapping.


The data to be displayed in this layer. There are three options:

If NULL, the default, the data is inherited from the plot data as specified in the call to ggplot().

A data.frame, or other object, will override the plot data. All objects will be fortified to produce a data frame. See fortify() for which variables will be created.

A function will be called with a single argument, the plot data. The return value must be a data.frame, and will be used as the layer data. A function can be created from a formula (e.g. ~ head(.x, 10)).


A position adjustment to use on the data for this layer. This can be used in various ways, including to prevent overplotting and improving the display. The position argument accepts the following:

  • The result of calling a position function, such as position_jitter(). This method allows for passing extra arguments to the position.

  • A string naming the position adjustment. To give the position as a string, strip the function name of the position_ prefix. For example, to use position_jitter(), give the position as "jitter".

  • For more information and other ways to specify the position, see the layer position documentation.


Other arguments passed on to layer()'s params argument. These arguments broadly fall into one of 4 categories below. Notably, further arguments to the position argument, or aesthetics that are required can not be passed through .... Unknown arguments that are not part of the 4 categories below are ignored.

  • Static aesthetics that are not mapped to a scale, but are at a fixed value and apply to the layer as a whole. For example, colour = "red" or linewidth = 3. The geom's documentation has an Aesthetics section that lists the available options. The 'required' aesthetics cannot be passed on to the params. Please note that while passing unmapped aesthetics as vectors is technically possible, the order and required length is not guaranteed to be parallel to the input data.

  • When constructing a layer using a stat_*() function, the ... argument can be used to pass on parameters to the geom part of the layer. An example of this is stat_density(geom = "area", outline.type = "both"). The geom's documentation lists which parameters it can accept.

  • Inversely, when constructing a layer using a geom_*() function, the ... argument can be used to pass on parameters to the stat part of the layer. An example of this is geom_area(stat = "density", adjust = 0.5). The stat's documentation lists which parameters it can accept.

  • The key_glyph argument of layer() may also be passed on through .... This can be one of the functions described as key glyphs, to change the display of the layer in the legend.


If not(NULL) (default), draw horizontal lines at the given quantiles of the density estimate.


If TRUE (default), trim the tails of the violins to the range of the data. If FALSE, don't trim the tails.


Known lower and upper bounds for estimated data. Default c(-Inf, Inf) means that there are no (finite) bounds. If any bound is finite, boundary effect of default density estimation will be corrected by reflecting tails outside bounds around their closest edge. Data points outside of bounds are removed with a warning.


if "area" (default), all violins have the same area (before trimming the tails). If "count", areas are scaled proportionally to the number of observations. If "width", all violins have the same maximum width.


If FALSE, the default, missing values are removed with a warning. If TRUE, missing values are silently removed.


The orientation of the layer. The default (NA) automatically determines the orientation from the aesthetic mapping. In the rare event that this fails it can be given explicitly by setting orientation to either "x" or "y". See the Orientation section for more detail.


logical. Should this layer be included in the legends? NA, the default, includes if any aesthetics are mapped. FALSE never includes, and TRUE always includes. It can also be a named logical vector to finely select the aesthetics to display.


If FALSE, overrides the default aesthetics, rather than combining with them. This is most useful for helper functions that define both data and aesthetics and shouldn't inherit behaviour from the default plot specification, e.g. borders().

geom, stat

Use to override the default connection between geom_violin() and stat_ydensity(). For more information about overriding these connections, see how the stat and geom arguments work.


The smoothing bandwidth to be used. If numeric, the standard deviation of the smoothing kernel. If character, a rule to choose the bandwidth, as listed in stats::bw.nrd(). Note that automatic calculation of the bandwidth does not take weights into account.


A multiplicate bandwidth adjustment. This makes it possible to adjust the bandwidth while still using the a bandwidth estimator. For example, adjust = 1/2 means use half of the default bandwidth.


Kernel. See list of available kernels in density().


Whether to discard groups with less than 2 observations (TRUE, default) or keep such groups for position adjustment purposes (FALSE).


This geom treats each axis differently and, thus, can thus have two orientations. Often the orientation is easy to deduce from a combination of the given mappings and the types of positional scales in use. Thus, ggplot2 will by default try to guess which orientation the layer should have. Under rare circumstances, the orientation is ambiguous and guessing may fail. In that case the orientation can be specified directly using the orientation parameter, which can be either "x" or "y". The value gives the axis that the geom should run along, "x" being the default orientation you would expect for the geom.


geom_violin() understands the following aesthetics (required aesthetics are in bold):

Learn more about setting these aesthetics in vignette("ggplot2-specs").

Computed variables

These are calculated by the 'stat' part of layers and can be accessed with delayed evaluation.

  • after_stat(density)
    Density estimate.

  • after_stat(scaled)
    Density estimate, scaled to a maximum of 1.

  • after_stat(count)
    Density * number of points - probably useless for violin plots.

  • after_stat(violinwidth)
    Density scaled for the violin plot, according to area, counts or to a constant maximum width.

  • after_stat(n)
    Number of points.

  • after_stat(width)
    Width of violin bounding box.


Hintze, J. L., Nelson, R. D. (1998) Violin Plots: A Box Plot-Density Trace Synergism. The American Statistician 52, 181-184.

See also

geom_violin() for examples, and stat_density() for examples with data along the x axis.


p <- ggplot(mtcars, aes(factor(cyl), mpg))
p + geom_violin()

# Orientation follows the discrete axis
ggplot(mtcars, aes(mpg, factor(cyl))) +

# \donttest{
p + geom_violin() + geom_jitter(height = 0, width = 0.1)

# Scale maximum width proportional to sample size:
p + geom_violin(scale = "count")

# Scale maximum width to 1 for all violins:
p + geom_violin(scale = "width")

# Default is to trim violins to the range of the data. To disable:
p + geom_violin(trim = FALSE)

# Use a smaller bandwidth for closer density fit (default is 1).
p + geom_violin(adjust = .5)

# Add aesthetic mappings
# Note that violins are automatically dodged when any aesthetic is
# a factor
p + geom_violin(aes(fill = cyl))

p + geom_violin(aes(fill = factor(cyl)))

p + geom_violin(aes(fill = factor(vs)))
#> Warning: Groups with fewer than two datapoints have been dropped.
#>  Set `drop = FALSE` to consider such groups for position adjustment
#>   purposes.

p + geom_violin(aes(fill = factor(am)))

# Set aesthetics to fixed value
p + geom_violin(fill = "grey80", colour = "#3366FF")

# Show quartiles
p + geom_violin(draw_quantiles = c(0.25, 0.5, 0.75))

# Scales vs. coordinate transforms -------
if (require("ggplot2movies")) {
# Scale transformations occur before the density statistics are computed.
# Coordinate transformations occur afterwards.  Observe the effect on the
# number of outliers.
m <- ggplot(movies, aes(y = votes, x = rating, group = cut_width(rating, 0.5)))
m + geom_violin()
m +
  geom_violin() +
m +
  geom_violin() +
  coord_trans(y = "log10")
m +
  geom_violin() +
  scale_y_log10() + coord_trans(y = "log10")

# Violin plots with continuous x:
# Use the group aesthetic to group observations in violins
ggplot(movies, aes(year, budget)) +
ggplot(movies, aes(year, budget)) +
  geom_violin(aes(group = cut_width(year, 10)), scale = "width")
#> Warning: Removed 53573 rows containing non-finite outside the scale range
#> (`stat_ydensity()`).
#> Warning: Groups with fewer than two datapoints have been dropped.
#>  Set `drop = FALSE` to consider such groups for position adjustment
#>   purposes.

# }