BioVenn - an R and Python package for the comparison and visualization of biological lists using area-proportional Venn diagrams

Tracking #: 679-1659


Responsible editor: 

Gargi Datta

Submission Type: 

Resource Paper


One of the most popular methods to visualize the overlap and differences between data sets is the Venn diagram. Venn diagrams are especially useful when they are 'area-proportional' i.e. the sizes of the circles and the overlaps correspond to the sizes of the data sets. In 2007, the BioVenn web interface was launched, which is being used by many researchers. However, this web implementation requires users to copy and paste (or upload) lists of IDs into the web browser, which is not always convenient and makes it difficult for researchers to create Venn diagrams ‘in batch’, or to automatically update the diagram when the source data changes. This is only possible by using software such as R or Python. This paper describes the BioVenn R and Python packages, which are very easy-to-use packages that can generate accurate area-proportional Venn diagrams of two or three circles directly from lists of (biological) IDs. The only required input is two or three lists of IDs. Optional parameters include the main title, the subtitle, the printing of absolute numbers or percentages within the diagram, colors and fonts. The function can show the diagram on the screen, or it can write output to one of the supported file formats. The function also returns all thirteen lists. The BioVenn R package and Python package were created for biological IDs, but they can be used for other IDs as well. Finally, BioVenn can map Affymetrix and EntrezGene to Ensembl IDs. The BioVenn R package is available in the CRAN repository, and can be installed by running ‘install.packages(“BioVenn”)’. The BioVenn Python package is available in the PyPI repository, and can be installed by running ‘pip install BioVenn’. The BioVenn web interface remains available at


Previous Version: 


  • Reviewed

Data repository URLs: 

Date of Submission: 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Date of Decision: 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

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