Re: [R] how to write symbol (nabla) in R graph

From: Prof Brian Ripley <>
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2008 09:12:17 +0100 (BST)

On Fri, 20 Jun 2008, Dieter Menne wrote:

> Nuno Prista <nmprista <at>> writes:
>> Can anyone of you tell me how to write a "nabla" symbol in an R graph?

We need to know what is meant by 'nabla': tries to disambiguate.

> I have not tested it,

so others are left to find your errors for you.

> but according to
> nabla is Unicode [0321]

U+0321 is COMBINING PALATALIZED HOOK BELOW ! You have misread that document, which is about Hershey encodings not Unicode.

> Check documentation on plothmath how to use it.

Perhaps you meant ?Hershey ?

> Note: the documents cited in plotmath are huge, and it would be nice to have
> something like the gnu-reference I google for a short list.

Like the reference

? The Gnuplot reference you cite does qualify as 'huge' and you have demonstrated how unclear it is. ?plotmath has both the definitive documentation and a reference to a short table (added by Paul Murrell at my suggestion).

Steve Ellison's answer is Unicode U+2207 via the symbol font. That is 'Nabla' (capitalized) according to

although the Adobe glyph name is 'gradient'.

To summarize, do one of

Use \xd1 in font = 5

Use plotmath with symbol("\xd1") (or equivalent)

Use "\u2207" on systems that support UTF-8 (and with a font and graphics device that supports this).


plot(1:5, type="n")
text(1,1, "\xd1", font=5)
text(2,2, expression(symbol("\xd1")))
text(3,3, "\u2207")

Depending on the locale and graphics device (and version of R) each of these may or may not work -- the first is probably the most reliable.

Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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Received on Fri 20 Jun 2008 - 08:24:12 GMT

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