Network graph layouts with R and igraph

This post describes how to apply different layouts to a network diagram using the igraph R library. It gives reproducible code showing how to use the offered algorithms.

Network section Data to Viz

Network layouts are algorithms that return coordinates for each node in a network. The igraph library offers several built-in layouts, and a sample of them is presented here.

Usually, algorithms try to minimize edge crossing and prevent overlap. Edges can have uniform length or not.

Choose your layout using the layout argument. Type help(layout) to see all the possibilities.

In practice, the fruchterman reingold algorythm is often used.

# library
# Create data
data <- matrix(sample(0:1, 400, replace=TRUE, prob=c(0.8,0.2)), nrow=20)
network <- graph_from_adjacency_matrix(data , mode='undirected', diag=F )
# When ploting, we can use different layouts:
par(mfrow=c(2,2), mar=c(1,1,1,1))
plot(network, layout=layout.sphere, main="sphere")
plot(network,, main="circle")
plot(network, layout=layout.random, main="random")
plot(network, layout=layout.fruchterman.reingold, main="fruchterman.reingold")
# See the complete list with
# help(layout)

Related chart types

Grouped and Stacked barplot
Pie chart
Circular packing


This document is a work by Yan Holtz. Any feedback is highly encouraged. You can fill an issue on Github, drop me a message on Twitter, or send an email pasting with

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