# 15 Common Problems with rmarkdown (and some solutions)

There are some things that I run into fairly frequently (and some not so much) when I’m rendering my rmarkdown documents. This section details some the common problems, and the solution that I have found works for me.

If you want to practice on fixing broken rmarkdown documents, check out some pathologically broken examples on github at njtierney/rmd-errors.

## 15.1 Avoiding problems

To avoid problems in the first place, I try and do the following:

• Develop code in chunks and execute the chunks until they work, then move on.
• knit the document regularly to check for errors.

Then, if there is an error:

• recreate the error in an interactive session:
• restart R
• run all chunks below
• find the chunk that did not work, fix until it does
• run all chunks below
• explore working directory issues
• remember that the rmarkdown directory is where the .Rmd file lives

## 15.2 The errors

What follows from here are all the errors you might in an rmarkdown document, with the following structure:

• What they might look like
• What the error message might appear to be, and
• How to solve them

## 15.3 “Duplication”: Duplicated chunk names

What it might look like

Chunks like this:


{r title-one}


{r title-one}


The error message

This is caught before the document compiles with a warning like:

processing file: common-problems.Rmd
Error in parse_block(g[-1], g[1], params.src) :
duplicate label 'title-one'
Calls: local ... process_file -> split_file -> lapply -> FUN -> parse_block
Execution halted
Error in Rscript_render(f, render_args, render_meta) :
Failed to compile common-problems.Rmd
Calls: <Anonymous> ... render_book -> render_new_session -> Rscript_render
Execution halted

The important part to note is the start:

.
.
.
Error in parse_block(g[-1], g[1], params.src) :
duplicate label 'title-one'
.
.
.

How to solve

• In our case we have the same chunk name twice: ‘title-one’. Change the chunk name of one of them!

## 15.4 “Not what I ordered”: Objects not created in the right order

What it might look like

plot(my_table)

my_table <- table(mtcars\$cyl)

The error message

How to solve

## 15.5 “Forgotten Trails I”: Missing “,”, or “(”, “}”, or “’”

What it might look like

The error message

How to solve

## 15.6 “Forgotten Trails II”: Chunk option with trailing ", or not input

What it might look like

The error message

processing file: rstudio.Rmd
(*) NOTE: I saw chunk options "fig-rstudio-workspace-options, fig.cap = "Setting the options right for rstudio, so you don't restore previous sessions work, and don't save it either."
(it is likely that you forgot to quote "character" options)
Error in parse(text = code, keep.source = FALSE) :
<text>:1:51: unexpected INCOMPLETE_STRING
1: alist( 'fig-rstudio-workspace-options', fig.cap = "Setting the options right for rstudio, so you don't restore previous sessions work, and don't save it either. )

How to solve it?

• The easiest way is to do Cmd+Shift+F, which opens up a global search in your rstudio project, and then type in the offending string mentioned in the NOTE. In this case, I would search for the partial string "fig.cap = "Setting the options right for rstudio, so you don't restore previous sessions work, and. I search for the partial string because there might be parts at the end of the error message that aren’t in the text.

## 15.7 “Forgotten Trail III”:

What it might look like

The error message

processing file: figures-tables-captions.Rmd
(*) NOTE: I saw chunk options "read-gapminder include = FALSE, echo = FALSe"
(it is likely that you forgot to quote "character" options)
Error in parse(text = code, keep.source = FALSE) :
<text>:1:23: unexpected symbol
^

How to solve

This error message is pretty good, I needed to add a comma after my chunk name.

So, go from:

{r read-gapminder include = FALSE, echo = FALSE}


to

{r read-gapminder, include = FALSE, echo = FALSE}


## 15.8 “The Path Not Taken” File path incorrect

What it might look like

The error message

How to solve

## 15.9 “Spolling I” Incorrectly spelled chunk options

These are often not an error, but you just won’t get the behaviour that you expect.

What it might look like

• fig.caption instead of fig.cap. This once caused me to rewrite a lot of code and an entire section of a paper until I realised the problem.

The error message

How to solve

• There might be a switch you can flick to ask knitr to solve

## 15.10 “Spolling II” Incorrectly spelled chunk option inputs

So this is when you provide the wrong input to your chunk options. Like something that requires TRUE gets “yes”, or something that needs "100%" instead gets 100

What it might look like

The error message

Quitting from lines 31-32 (figures-tables-captions.Rmd)
Calls: local ... process_group.block -> call_block -> eval_lang -> eval -> eval
Execution halted
Error in Rscript_render(f, render_args, render_meta) :
Failed to compile figures-tables-captions.Rmd
Calls: <Anonymous> ... render_book -> render_new_session -> Rscript_render
Execution halted

How to solve

What was the problem? Turns out I provided the option FALSe instead of FALSE.

Go from:

{r read-gapminder include = FALSE, echo = FALSe}


to

{r read-gapminder, include = FALSE, echo = FALSE}


## 15.12 LaTeX errors

There is no panacea for LaTeX errors, but if you aren’t familiar with “what that error message” might look like, here are some details.

What it might look like

The error message

How to solve

## 15.13 I want to include inline R code verbatim to show an example

… Like for a book on using rmarkdown or something.

Check out this great blog post by T. Hovorka from R Views

It boils down to this:

 r "\u0060r expression\u0060" .

## 15.14 My Figure or Table isn’t being cited

What it might look like

You create a figure,

The error message

There isn’t one - you just get \@ref(fig:figure-chunk-name) printed.

How to solve

You need to make sure that you actually print the table or plot. If you create the plot and save it, but do not print it in the document, then you will not be able to reference the plot or table.