# [Solved] ggplot2: histogram with normal curve

I’ve been trying to superimpose a normal curve over my histogram with ggplot 2.

My formula:

``````data <- read.csv (path...)

ggplot(data, aes(V2)) +
geom_histogram(alpha=0.3, fill='white', colour='black', binwidth=.04)
``````

I tried several things:

``````+ stat_function(fun=dnorm)
``````

….didn’t change anything

``````+ stat_density(geom = "line", colour = "red")
``````

…gave me a straight red line on the x-axis.

``````+ geom_density()
``````

doesn’t work for me because I want to keep my frequency values on the y-axis, and want no density values.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any tips!

Solution found!

`+geom_density(aes(y=0.045*..count..), colour="black", adjust=4)`

## Solution #1:

Think I got it:

``````set.seed(1)
df <- data.frame(PF = 10*rnorm(1000))
ggplot(df, aes(x = PF)) +
geom_histogram(aes(y =..density..),
breaks = seq(-50, 50, by = 10),
colour = "black",
fill = "white") +
stat_function(fun = dnorm, args = list(mean = mean(df\$PF), sd = sd(df\$PF)))
`````` ## Solution #2:

This has been answered here and partially here.

The area under a density curve equals 1, and the area under the histogram equals the width of the bars times the sum of their height ie. the binwidth times the total number of non-missing observations. To fit both on the same graph, one or other needs to be rescaled so that their areas match.

If you want the y-axis to have frequency counts, there are a number of options:

First simulate some data.

``````library(ggplot2)

set.seed(1)
dat_hist <- data.frame(
group = c(rep("A", 200), rep("B",150)),
value = c(rnorm(200, 20, 5), rnorm(150,25,10)))

# Set desired binwidth and number of non-missing obs
bw = 2
n_obs = sum(!is.na(dat_hist\$value))
``````

Option 1: Plot both histogram and density curve as density and then rescale the y axis

This is perhaps the easiest approach for a single histogram.
Using the approach suggested by Carlos, plot both histogram and density curve as density

``````g <- ggplot(dat_hist, aes(value))  +
geom_histogram(aes(y = ..density..), binwidth = bw, colour = "black") +
stat_function(fun = dnorm, args = list(mean = mean(dat_hist\$value), sd = sd(dat_hist\$value)))
``````

And then rescale the y axis.

``````ybreaks = seq(0,50,5)
## On primary axis
g + scale_y_continuous("Counts", breaks = round(ybreaks / (bw * n_obs),3), labels = ybreaks)

## Or on secondary axis
g + scale_y_continuous("Density", sec.axis = sec_axis(
trans = ~ . * bw * n_obs, name = "Counts", breaks = ybreaks))
`````` Option 2: Rescale the density curve using stat_function

With code tidied as per PatrickT’s answer.

``````ggplot(dat_hist, aes(value))  +
geom_histogram(colour = "black", binwidth = bw) +
stat_function(fun = function(x)
dnorm(x, mean = mean(dat_hist\$value), sd = sd(dat_hist\$value)) * bw * n_obs)
``````

Option 3: Create an external dataset and plot using geom_line.

Unlike the above options, this one works with facets. (EDITED to provide `dplyr` rather than `plyr` based solution). Note, the summarised dataset is being used as the primary, and the raw passed in for the histogram only.

``````library(tidyverse)

dat_hist %>%
group_by(group) %>%
nest(data = c(value)) %>%
mutate(y = map(data, ~ dnorm(
.\$value, mean = mean(.\$value), sd = sd(.\$value)
) * bw * sum(!is.na(.\$value)))) %>%
unnest(c(data,y)) %>%

ggplot(aes(x = value)) +
geom_histogram(data = dat_hist, binwidth = bw, colour = "black") +
geom_line(aes(y = y)) +
facet_wrap(~ group)
`````` Option 4: Create external functions to edit the data on the fly

A bit over the top perhaps, but might be useful for someone?

``````## Function to create scaled dnorm data along full x axis range
dnorm_scaled <- function(data, x = NULL, binwidth = 1, xlim = NULL) {
.x <- na.omit(data[,x])
if(is.null(xlim))
xlim = c(min(.x), max(.x))
x_range = seq(xlim, xlim, length.out = 101)
setNames(
data.frame(
x = x_range,
y = dnorm(x_range, mean = mean(.x), sd = sd(.x)) * length(.x) * binwidth),
c(x, "y"))
}

## Function to apply over groups
dnorm_scaled_group <- function(data, x = NULL, group = NULL, binwidth = NULL, xlim = NULL) {
dat_hists <- lapply(
split(data, data[, group]), dnorm_scaled,
x = x, binwidth = binwidth, xlim = xlim)
for(g in names(dat_hists))
dat_hists[[g]][, "group"] <- g
setNames(do.call(rbind, dat_hists), c(x, "y", group))
}

## Single histogram
ggplot(dat_hist, aes(value)) +
geom_histogram(binwidth = bw, colour = "black") +
geom_line(data = ~ dnorm_scaled(., "value", binwidth = bw),
aes(y = y))

## With a single faceting variable
ggplot(dat_hist, aes(value))  +
geom_histogram(binwidth = 2, colour = "black") +
geom_line(data = ~ dnorm_scaled_group(
., x = "value", group = "group", binwidth = 2, xlim = c(0,50)),
aes(y = y)) +
facet_wrap(~ group)
``````

## Solution #3:

This is an extended comment on JWilliman’s answer. I found J’s answer very useful. While playing around I discovered a way to simplify the code. I’m not saying it is a better way, but I thought I would mention it.

Note that JWilliman’s answer provides the count on the y-axis and a “hack” to scale the corresponding density normal approximation (which otherwise would cover a total area of 1 and have therefore a much lower peak).

Main point of this comment: simpler syntax inside `stat_function`, by passing the needed parameters to the aesthetics function, e.g.

`aes(x = x, mean = 0, sd = 1, binwidth = 0.3, n = 1000)`

This avoids having to pass `args =` to `stat_function` and is therefore more user-friendly. Okay, it’s not very different, but hopefully someone will find it interesting.

``````# parameters that will be passed to ``stat_function``
n = 1000
mean = 0
sd = 1
binwidth = 0.3 # passed to geom_histogram and stat_function
set.seed(1)
df <- data.frame(x = rnorm(n, mean, sd))

ggplot(df, aes(x = x, mean = mean, sd = sd, binwidth = binwidth, n = n)) +
theme_bw() +
geom_histogram(binwidth = binwidth,
colour = "white", fill = "cornflowerblue", size = 0.1) +
stat_function(fun = function(x) dnorm(x, mean = mean, sd = sd) * n * binwidth,
color = "darkred", size = 1)
`````` ## Solution #4:

This code should do it:

``````set.seed(1)
z <- rnorm(1000)

qplot(z, geom = "blank") +
geom_histogram(aes(y = ..density..)) +
stat_density(geom = "line", aes(colour = "bla")) +
stat_function(fun = dnorm, aes(x = z, colour = "blabla")) +
scale_colour_manual(name = "", values = c("red", "green"),
breaks = c("bla", "blabla"),
labels = c("kernel_est", "norm_curv")) +
theme(legend.position = "bottom", legend.direction = "horizontal")
`````` Note: I used qplot but you can use the more versatile ggplot.

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