[R] Assign Character Value to Data Frame

Joshua Wiley jwiley.psych at gmail.com
Tue Apr 12 20:31:28 CEST 2011

Hi John,

The error arises because the "hold" data frame contains factors.  This
happens by default when creating data frames with character data as
you did.  Factors have a set number of levels and new values cannot be
assigned to them that fall outside their specified levels, hence the
error.  The solution is to create all the columns in the dat frame as
character to begin with or transform them to that (or at least ensure
they are not factors).  For example:

> hold <- data.frame(symbol = character(1), stringsAsFactors = FALSE)
> hold[1, ] <- "NYSE:MMM"
> hold

See ?data.frame for details.

Hope this helps,


On Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM, Sparks, John James <jspark4 at uic.edu> wrote:
> Dear R Helpers,
> I am trying to write a character value to the row of a data frame and am
> running into a problem that I don't have when I do this for numeric
> arguments.  For example, the following works just fine:
>> test<-data.frame(number=numeric(1))
>> test[1,]<-.5
>> test
>  number
> 1    0.5
> But the following bombs out:
>> hold<-data.frame(symbol=character(1))
>> hold[1,]<-"NYSE:MMM"
> Warning message:
> In `[<-.factor`(`*tmp*`, iseq, value = "NYSE:MMM") :
>  invalid factor level, NAs generated
> Could someone please guide me as to what adjustment I need to make to
> assign this character value to this row of the data frame?  Your help
> would be very much appreciated.
> --John Sparks
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Joshua Wiley
Ph.D. Student, Health Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles

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