The current/active theme (see theme()) is automatically applied to every plot you draw. Use theme_get() to get the current theme, and theme_set() to completely override it. theme_update() and theme_replace() are shorthands for changing individual elements.

theme_get()

theme_set(new)

theme_update(...)

theme_replace(...)

e1 %+replace% e2

Arguments

new

new theme (a list of theme elements)

...

named list of theme settings

e1, e2

Theme and element to combine

Value

theme_set(), theme_update(), and theme_replace() invisibly return the previous theme so you can easily save it, then later restore it.

Adding on to a theme

+ and %+replace% can be used to modify elements in themes.

+ updates the elements of e1 that differ from elements specified (not NULL) in e2. Thus this operator can be used to incrementally add or modify attributes of a ggplot theme.

In contrast, %+replace% replaces the entire element; any element of a theme not specified in e2 will not be present in the resulting theme (i.e. NULL). Thus this operator can be used to overwrite an entire theme.

theme_update() uses the + operator, so that any unspecified values in the theme element will default to the values they are set in the theme. theme_replace() uses %+replace% to completely replace the element, so any unspecified values will overwrite the current value in the theme with NULL.

In summary, the main differences between theme_set(), theme_update(), and theme_replace() are:

  • theme_set() completely overrides the current theme.

  • theme_update() modifies a particular element of the current theme using the + operator.

  • theme_replace() modifies a particular element of the current theme using the %+replace% operator.

See also

Examples

p <- ggplot(mtcars, aes(mpg, wt)) +
  geom_point()
p


# Use theme_set() to completely override the current theme.
# theme_update() and theme_replace() are similar except they
# apply directly to the current/active theme.
# theme_update() modifies a particular element of the current theme.
# Here we have the old theme so we can later restore it.
# Note that the theme is applied when the plot is drawn, not
# when it is created.
old <- theme_set(theme_bw())
p


theme_set(old)
theme_update(panel.grid.minor = element_line(colour = "red"))
p


theme_set(old)
theme_replace(panel.grid.minor = element_line(colour = "red"))
p


theme_set(old)
p



# Modifying theme objects -----------------------------------------
# You can use + and %+replace% to modify a theme object.
# They differ in how they deal with missing arguments in
# the theme elements.

add_el <- theme_grey() +
  theme(text = element_text(family = "Times"))
add_el$text
#> List of 11
#>  $ family       : chr "Times"
#>  $ face         : chr "plain"
#>  $ colour       : chr "black"
#>  $ size         : num 11
#>  $ hjust        : num 0.5
#>  $ vjust        : num 0.5
#>  $ angle        : num 0
#>  $ lineheight   : num 0.9
#>  $ margin       : 'margin' num [1:4] 0points 0points 0points 0points
#>   ..- attr(*, "unit")= int 8
#>  $ debug        : logi FALSE
#>  $ inherit.blank: logi FALSE
#>  - attr(*, "class")= chr [1:2] "element_text" "element"

rep_el <- theme_grey() %+replace%
  theme(text = element_text(family = "Times"))
rep_el$text
#> List of 11
#>  $ family       : chr "Times"
#>  $ face         : NULL
#>  $ colour       : NULL
#>  $ size         : NULL
#>  $ hjust        : NULL
#>  $ vjust        : NULL
#>  $ angle        : NULL
#>  $ lineheight   : NULL
#>  $ margin       : NULL
#>  $ debug        : NULL
#>  $ inherit.blank: logi FALSE
#>  - attr(*, "class")= chr [1:2] "element_text" "element"