I am trying to plot a histogram of two overlapping distributions in ggplot2. Unfortunately, the graphic needs to be in black and white. I tried representing the two categories with different shades of grey, with transparency, but the result is not as clear as I would like. I tried adding outlines to the bars with different linetypes, but this produced some strange results.

```
require(ggplot2)
set.seed(65)
a = rnorm(100, mean = 1, sd = 1)
b = rnorm(100, mean = 3, sd = 1)
dat <- data.frame(category = rep(c('A', 'B'), each = 100),
values = c(a, b))
ggplot(data = dat, aes(x = values, linetype = category, fill = category)) +
geom_histogram(colour = 'black', position = 'identity', alpha = 0.4, binwidth = 1) +
scale_fill_grey()
```

Notice that one of the lines that should appear dotted is in fact solid (at a value of x = 4). I think this must be a result of it actually being two lines - one from the 3-4 bar and one from the 4-5 bar. The dots are out of phase so they produce a solid line. The effect is rather ugly and inconsistent.

- Is there any way of fixing this overlap?
- Can anyone suggest a more effective way of clarifying the difference between the two categories, without resorting to colour?

Many thanks.

Answer:

One possibility would be to use a 'hollow histogram', as described **here**:

```
# assign your original plot object to a variable
p1 <- ggplot(data = dat, aes(x = values, linetype = category, fill = category)) +
geom_histogram(colour = 'black', position = 'identity', alpha = 0.4, binwidth = 0.4) +
scale_fill_grey()
# p1
# extract relevant variables from the plot object to a new data frame
# your grouping variable 'category' is named 'group' in the plot object
df <- ggplot_build(p1)$data[[1]][ , c("xmin", "y", "group")]
# plot using geom_step
ggplot(data = df, aes(x = xmin, y = y, linetype = factor(group))) +
geom_step()
```

If you want to vary both linetype and fill, you need to plot a histogram first (which can be filled). Set the outline colour of the histogram to transparent. Then add the `geom_step`

. Use `theme_bw`

to avoid 'grey elements on grey background'

```
p1 <- ggplot() +
geom_histogram(data = dat, aes(x = values, fill = category),
colour = "transparent", position = 'identity', alpha = 0.4, binwidth = 0.4) +
scale_fill_grey()
df <- ggplot_build(p1)$data[[1]][ , c("xmin", "y", "group")]
df$category <- factor(df$group, labels = c("A", "B"))
p1 +
geom_step(data = df, aes(x = xmin, y = y, linetype = category)) +
theme_bw()
```

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