2  Getting started

In this chapter, you will
  • create a quarto document
  • render it to make an html document

2.1 Creating an quarto file

An quarto file is a plain text file. You can create a new text file, give it the “.qmd” extension, and start typing. But it is better to use RStudio.

On the RStudio menu, go to


If you don’t see the “Quarto Document…” option, check you have quarto installed.

The first time you make a quarto document, you may be asked to install some extra packages. Now you will have a pop-up window asking for the Title, author and output format (Figure 2.1). Make sure the “Use visual markdown editor” option is ticked.

Screenshot of the menu for making a new quarto presentation

Figure 2.1: Choose the output format

You can fill these in now, or edit the document later. I recommend you start with “HTML” format as is doesn’t require any other software to be installed. When you are ready, click OK, and a new quarto file will open. It will look something like Figure 2.2

Screenshot of the default quarto document

Figure 2.2: The default quarto document.

You will learn about the elements of this file in Chapter 3.


Create an quarto document with output format HTML.

2.2 Rendering the quarto document

You can see the rendered quarto document by knitting it. Click the blue “Render” button which is above the document.

Screenshot of RStudio showing the render button, which has a blue arrow pointing towards the word "Render".

Figure 2.3: The render button

The first time you render the document, you need to save it first.

Files names

The most important rule for naming your quarto document it that there must be no spaces. If there are spaces, you can get all sorts of strange errors.

The second rule is that is you have a “.” in your name, you will confuse RStudio and it will think you have added an extension. This means you have to add the “.qmd” yourself. Easiest to avoid “.” and use “-” or “_” to separate words in the file name.


Render your quarto document and examine the output. If it worked then everything is set up correctly.


For the rest of this tutorial, we will analyse plant trait data from Svalbard and make a reproducible report.

To download the data and quarto document, you need to run

#install.packages("usethis") # if you don't have it already.

Then follow the instructions. This will open the svalbardQuartoDemo Rstudio project.

Open the file svalbard_traits.qmd and render it. The output is a bit of a mess - we are going to make it better!