How to make ggplot look like base R graphics

After being steadfastly against anything in R beyond base, I’ve recently been indoctrinated into the tidyverse way of doing things. In particular, ggplot and extensions has made making complicated plots a lot easier than using base graphics (especially ggpubr’s ggarrange() function for labelling panels, which I used to do with mtext()). However, I’ve never been a huge fan of the ggplot aesthetic, being trained from a young age to eschew “chart junk“, like grid lines and unnecessary backgrounds. It’s fairly easy to do, with a few modifications of ggplot’s theme_bw(). Include this code before your ggplot commands:

require(ggplot2)
theme_gray() # the default theme
p <- ggplot(mtcars, aes(wt, mpg))
q = p + geom_point(aes(colour=factor(cyl), size = qsec))
ggsave(q, filename = "theme_gray.png", device="png", width=4, height=3)
### Use this to make it look like base
theme_set(theme_bw())
theme_update(text = element_text(size=12),
panel.grid.major = element_blank(),
panel.grid.minor = element_blank(),
strip.background = element_blank()
)
###
ggsave(q, filename = "theme_base.png", device="png", width=4, height=3)

Done!

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