prompt {utils}R Documentation

Produce Prototype of an R Documentation File


Facilitate the constructing of files documenting R objects.


prompt(object, filename = NULL, name = NULL, ...)

## Default S3 method:
prompt(object, filename = NULL, name = NULL,
       force.function = FALSE, ...)

## S3 method for class 'data.frame':
prompt(object, filename = NULL, name = NULL, ...)


object an R object, typically a function for the default method.
filename usually, a connection or a character string giving the name of the file to which the documentation shell should be written. The default corresponds to a file whose name is name followed by ".Rd". Can also be NA (see below).
name a character string specifying the name of the object.
force.function a logical. If TRUE, treat object as function in any case.
... further arguments passed to or from other methods.


Unless filename is NA, a documentation shell for object is written to the file specified by filename, and a message about this is given. For function objects, this shell contains the proper function and argument names. R documentation files thus created still need to be edited and moved into the ‘man’ subdirectory of the package containing the object to be documented.

If filename is NA, a list-style representation of the documentation shell is created and returned. Writing the shell to a file amounts to cat(unlist(x), file = filename, sep = "\n"), where x is the list-style representation.

When prompt is used in for loops or scripts, the explicit name specification will be useful.


If filename is NA, a list-style representation of the documentation shell. Otherwise, the name of the file written to is returned invisibly.


The default filename may not be a valid filename under limited file systems (e.g. those on Windows).

Currently, calling prompt on a non-function object assumes that the object is in fact a data set and hence documents it as such. This may change in future versions of R. Use promptData to create documentation skeletons for data sets.


The documentation file produced by does not have the same format as many of the data frame documentation files in the base package. We are trying to settle on a preferred format for the documentation.


Douglas Bates for


Becker, R. A., Chambers, J. M. and Wilks, A. R. (1988) The New S Language. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole.

See Also

promptData, help and the chapter on “Writing R documentation” in “Writing R Extensions” (see the ‘doc/manual’ subdirectory of the R source tree).

For creation of many help pages (for a package), see package.skeleton.

To prompt the user for input, see readline.


prompt(interactive, force.function = TRUE)

prompt(women) # data.frame

prompt(sunspots) # non-data.frame data

[Package utils version 2.5.0 Index]