Advanced Strings

Advanced f-strings

Decimal Formatting

Formatting decimal or floating point numbers with f-strings is easy - you can pass in both a field width and a precision. The format is {value:width.precision}. Let’s format pi (3.1415926) to two decimal places - we’ll set the width to 1 because we don’t need padding, and the precision to 3, giving us the one number to the left of the decimal and the two numbers to the right:

>>> print(f"Pi to two decimal places is {3.1415926:1.3}")
Pi to two decimal places is 3.14

# We'll break it out into variables to make it clearer:
>>> value = 3.1415926
>>> width = 1
>>> precision = 3
>>> print(f"Pi to two decimal places is: {value:{width}.{precision}}")
Pi to two decimal places is: 3.14

# Let's change the width to 10
>>> value = 3.1415926
>>> width = 10
>>> precision = 3
>>> print(f"Pi to two decimal places is: {value:{width}.{precision}}")
Pi to two decimal places is:       3.14

Note how the second one is padded with extra spaces - the number is four characters long (including the period), so the formatter added six extra spaces to equal the total width of 10.

Multiline Strings

Sometimes it’s easier to break up large statements into multiple lines. Just prepend every line with f:

>>> message = (
...     f"Hello, my name is {name}. "
...     f"I can calculate pi to two places: {pi:4.3}. "
...     f"But I would rather be eating {food}."
... )
>>> print(message)
Hello, my name is Nina. I can calculate pi to two places: 3.14. But I would rather be eating pie.

Trimming a string

Python strings have some very useful functions for trimming whitespace. strip() returns a new string after removing any leading and trailing whitespace. rstrip() and does the same but only removes trailing whitespace, and lstrip() only trims leading whitespace. We’ll print our string inside >< characters to make it clear:

>>> my_string = "   Hello World!   "
>>> print(f">{my_string.lstrip()}<")
>Hello World!   <
>>> print(f">{my_string.rstrip()}<")
>   Hello World!<
>>> print(f">{my_string.strip()}<")
>Hello World!<

Note the different spaces inside of the brackets. These functions also accept an optional argument of characters to remove. Let’s remove all leading or trailing commas:

>>> my_string = "Hello World!,,,"
>>> print(my_string.strip(","))
Hello World!

Replacing Characters

Strings have a useful function for replacing characters - just call replace() on any string and pass in what you want replace, and what you want to replace it with:

>>> my_string = "Hello, world!"
>>> my_string.replace("world", "Nina")
'Hello, Nina!'

str.format() and % formatting

Python has two older methods of string formatting that you’ll probably come across at some point. str.format() is the more verbose older cousin to f-strings - variables appear in brackets in the string but must be passed in to the format() call. For example:

>>> name = "Nina"
>>> print("Hello, my name is {name}".format(name=name))
Hello, my name is Nina

Note that the variable name inside the string is local to the string - it must be assigned to an outside variable inside the format() call, hence .format(name=name).

%-formatting is a much older method of string interpolating and isn’t used much anymore. It’s very similar to the methods used in C/C++. Here, we’ll use %s as our placeholder for a string, and pass the name variable in to the formatter by placing it after the % symbol.

>>> name = "Nina"
>>> print("Hello, my name is %s" % name)
Hello, my name is Nina