10 Stata Help in Markdown

10.1 Introduction

For some Stata documentation, you may want to include portions of Stata's help files.

When I present workshops on Stata programming topics, I often refer to the Help files. I use them constantly myself, and I usually want my audience to learn to do the same.

I can usually just write "look up command name" or provide a URL. But every once in a while, I want to include something from a Help file in my own writing. Sometimes I want to make a point about how the Help itself is laid out.

10.2 Example - help graph

For example, I recently found myself wanting to discuss some of the many tasks accomplished with Stata's graph command, and it is useful to look at how Stata has grouped these in its own documentation. In Stata, type the command:

help graph

What you will see in the Help (below) is that the first group of graph commands draw graphs, that is, they specify how the ink is to go on the page (pixels on the screen), and then carry out that task.

The other graph commands, grouped further down, are utility procedures that mostly manipulate a graph that has been produced. (I have only included part of the Help page here.)

      [G-2] graph -- The graph command
                     (View complete PDF manual entry)
      
      
      Syntax
      
              graph ...
      
          The commands that draw graphs are
      
              Command                 Description
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------
              graph twoway            scatterplots, line plots, etc.
              graph matrix            scatterplot matrices
              graph bar               bar charts
              graph dot               dot charts
              graph box               box-and-whisker plots
              graph pie               pie charts
              other                   more commands to draw statistical graphs
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      
          The commands that save a previously drawn graph, redisplay previously
          saved graphs, and combine graphs are
      
              Command                 Description
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------
              graph save              save graph to disk
              graph use               redisplay graph stored on disk
              graph display           redisplay graph stored in memory
              graph combine           combine multiple graphs
              graph replay            redisplay graphs stored in memory and on disk
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      

10.3 The R Markdown

There are three steps to this little display:

  • a fake call to help graph. This is faked because it is a command Stata would ignore in batch mode.
  • a hidden translate command (in Stata). This converts Stata's marked up (SMCL) help into plain text.
  • a hidden readLines command (in R). This gives us our "output" in the document.

To see the details, see the source.

(This page was written using Statamarkdown version 0.7.1.)