ggplot2 Transparent Background Quick Guide

ggplots Transparent Background, the ggplot2 syntax for adding a translucent background to a plot is as follows.

p +
    panel.background = element_rect(fill='transparent'), #transparent panel bg
    plot.background = element_rect(fill='transparent', color=NA), #transparent plot bg
    panel.grid.major = element_blank(), #remove major gridlines
    panel.grid.minor = element_blank(), #remove minor gridlines
    legend.background = element_rect(fill='transparent'), #transparent legend bg = element_rect(fill='transparent') #transparent legend panel

Make sure to indicate that the backdrop should be translucent when exporting the plot with ggsave().

ggsave('myplot.png', p, bg='transparent')

The usage of this syntax in practice is demonstrated by the example that follows.

How to Use ggplot2 Transparent Background

The ggplot2 code below demonstrates how to make a straightforward grouped boxplot:


Make this illustration repeatable


Now we can create a dataset

df<- data.frame(team=rep(c('P1', 'P2', 'P3'), each=50),
program=rep(c('LOW', 'MEDIUM'), each=25),
values=seq(1:150)+sample(1:100, 150, replace=TRUE))
team program values
1   P1     LOW     84
2   P1     LOW     58
3   P1     LOW     42
4   P1     LOW     72
5   P1     LOW      6
6   P1     LOW     46

Yes, let’s create a boxplot

ggplot(df, aes(x=team, y=values, fill=program)) +

To give the plot a transparent background, we can use the following code.

p <- ggplot(df, aes(x=team, y=values, fill=program)) +
       geom_boxplot() +
         panel.background = element_rect(fill='transparent'),
         plot.background = element_rect(fill='transparent', color=NA),
         panel.grid.major = element_blank(),
         panel.grid.minor = element_blank(),
         legend.background = element_rect(fill='transparent'), = element_rect(fill='transparent')

Now we can display the boxplot


We can then export this plot to a PNG file, specifying that the background should be transparent in the exported image.

ggsave(‘boxplot.png’, p, bg=’transparent’)

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