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use_author() adds a person to the Authors@R field of the DESCRIPTION file, creating that field if necessary. It will not modify, e.g., the role(s) or email of an existing author (judged using their "Given Family" name). For that we recommend editing DESCRIPTION directly. Or, for programmatic use, consider calling the more specialized functions available in the desc package directly.

use_author() also surfaces two other situations you might want to address:

  • Explicit use of the fields Author or Maintainer. We recommend switching to the more modern Authors@R field instead, because it offers richer metadata for various downstream uses. (Note that Authors@R is eventually processed to create Author and Maintainer fields, but only when the tar.gz is built from package source.)

  • Presence of the fake author placed by create_package() and use_description(). This happens when usethis has to create a DESCRIPTION file and the user hasn't given any author information via the fields argument or the global option "usethis.description". The placeholder looks something like First Last <> [aut, cre] (YOUR-ORCID-ID) and use_author() offers to remove it in interactive sessions.


use_author(given = NULL, family = NULL, ..., role = "ctb")



a character vector with the given names, or a list thereof.


a character string with the family name, or a list thereof.


Arguments passed on to utils::person


a character string with the collapsed middle name(s). Deprecated, see Details.


a character string (or vector) giving an e-mail address (each), or a list thereof.


a character string (or vector) providing comments, or a list thereof.


a character string giving the first name. Deprecated, see Details.


a character string giving the last name. Deprecated, see Details.


a character vector specifying the role(s) of the person (see Details), or a list thereof.


if (FALSE) {
  given = "Lucy",
  family = "van Pelt",
  role = c("aut", "cre"),
  email = "",
  comment = c(ORCID = "LUCY-ORCID-ID")

use_author("Charlie", "Brown")