What Is a Python String?

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Strings are a core feature of Python. They allow you to create various data visualization elements, such as pie charts, 3D plots, bar graphs, and lines.

But what is a Python string, and what can you do with it?

Python String Basics

Most programming languages have a unique way of grouping characters in strings. With Python, a string represents a sequence of Unicode symbols. This encoding standard is used to cluster characters from multiple platforms to ensure uniform operations.

You can create strings in Python by enclosing symbols inside single or double quotes. Triple quotes are another option, but they’re mostly used to form docstrings and multiline strings.

How Do You Access Individual Characters in a Python String?

Python allows you to access individual characters with indexing. But before we delve into indexing, you first need to understand iterables since they’re a key part of this operation.

Iterables are special objects in Python that can be iterated. This means you can explore various entities or elements within the objects, which can be easily achieved through loops.

Indexing enables you to refer to the items within iterables by their position. It lets you access the desired elements and perform different operations.

Indexing in Python starts with 0. Attempting to access characters out of range raises errors because your index needs to be an integer (a negative or positive whole number without decimals).

If you want to refer to the previous item, you can use the -1 index. The -2 index brings you to the item before that, and so on.

While you can access individual characters, keep in mind that a string is immutable. In other words, you can’t change elements of your strings after assigning them. All you can do is reassign a different string with the same name.

You can’t remove or delete individual characters either. However, you can delete the entire string with the “del” keyword.

What Are the Operations You Can Perform With a Python String?

Now that we’ve answered the “what is a Python string” question, let’s see what you can do with it. Although strings are immutable, you can use them to perform various operations.

Joining Strings

The formal term for joining multiple strings is concatenation. You can access this function with your “+” operator after writing two or more string literals.

If you want to repeat your strings, rely on your “*” operator. It will reiterate the string for a specific number of times. Concatenating strings into different lines requires you to use parentheses.

Iterating Through a String

There are several ways to iterate through a Python string. Some people utilize the “for I in range(len(str)):.” function. In this arrangement, the variable “I” receives an index, so you can access each character using the “str [i]” function.

Testing String Membership

Python enables you to test whether a character or string belongs to another string using the “in” or “not in” operators:

  • “in” – The result of the “in” operation is “True” if the system detects a value in a specific sequence.
  • “not in” – The result of the “not in” operation is “True” if the system doesn’t detect a value in a specific sequence.

Built-In Functions

Many integrated functions compatible with sequences are also compatible with strings. Two of the most popular examples are “enumerate()” and “len().”

  • “enumerate()” – This function returns enumerated objects. It includes the value and index of your items in strings as pairs, which can come in handy for iteration.
  • “len()” – The “len()” function feeds the length of your string back to you.

How Do You Format Strings in Python?

String formatting in Python is also referred to as string interpolation. This process involves inserting custom strings or variables in your predefined text. There are different ways to format a string.

Escape Sequences

Say you want to print the following text in Python: “He said he wasn’t home.” You can neither use double nor single quotes because you would get syntax errors. A possible workaround is to utilize triple quotes, but there’s a more effective way – escape sequences.

Escape sequences are interpreted differently from normal sequences. Also, you normally use a backlash to start this string formatting. If you want to represent your strings with single quotes, each single quote inside your string needs to be escaped. The same goes for double quotes.

Here are some of the most widely-used escape sequences in Python and their descriptions:

  • \newline – newline and backslash ignored
  • \\ – backslash
  • \’ – single quote
  • \’’ – double quote
  • \a – American Standard Code for Information Exchange (ASCII) Bell
  • \b – ASCII Backspace
  • \v – ASCII Vertical Tab
  • \n – ASCII Linefeed
  • \r – ASCII Carriage Return
  • \f – ASCII Formfeed
  • \t – ASCII Horizontal Tab
  • \xHH – Character of HH hexadecimal value
  • \ooo – Character of ooo octal value

Raw Strings

In some cases, you may want to ignore your escape sequences within strings. To do so, you can place an “R” or “r” in front of your strings. This indicates the strings are raw, and any escape sequences within them will be ignored.

What Is a Python String

Formatting Strings With the format() Technique

The “format()” method can be used with various string objects, making it highly versatile when formatting strings. You can configure the technique with optional specifications, which can be separated from field names using a colon. For instance, you can center (^), right-justify (>), or left-justify (<) strings in any given space.

Python also enables you to format your integers as a binary or hexadecimal unit. You can even round or display floats in their exponent formats. The formatting options are virtually endless with the “format()” method.

Old-Style Formatting

This programming language allows you to format strings as you would in older systems, such as C. For instance, you can use your “%)” operator to format strings in the “sprint()” style.

Are There Any Other Python Elements You Should Understand?

Strings aren’t the only elements you use in Python when working on your projects. There are many other units you should understand when making your first moves in this programming language.


Python comments are short descriptions alongside your code that make the code more readable. You can use them to break down your thought process while programming. They explain the logic behind why you wrote a particular code line.

Comments in Python can be incredibly beneficial:

  • They make the code easily understandable by other team members.
  • The programming becomes self-explanatory.
  • Comments help the interpreter ignore a section of the code when testing.
  • They help you remember why you introduced a specific method, function, or command in your code.


Python variables are symbolic names that serve as pointers or references to objects. Once you assign an object to a variable, you can revisit the object using that name. However, the data still remains contained within your object.

There are no Python commands for declaring variables. Instead, they’re created the moment you assign values to them. Additionally, you don’t need to declare variables using any particular types. You can even change their types after setting the original.

The names of your variables can be short (e.g., X or Y) or more descriptive (e.g., total volume, age, group, school). Several rules apply to variable naming:

  • The first symbol of the name must be a letter or underscore character.
  • You can’t start the name of your variable using numbers.
  • Names of variables can only include underscores and alphanumeric characters (0-9, A-Z, and _).
  • The names are case-sensitive (AGE, Age, and age are different variables).


Casting is the process of converting a data type into another data type. The procedure is also known as type conversion. Python offers a wide range of methods and functions for type castings:

  • Int()
  • float()
  • ord()
  • str()
  • hex()
  • tuple()
  • oct()
  • dict()
  • list()

There are two forms of typecasting. On the one hand, explicit conversion involves converting one type of information into another manually (through user intervention). On the other hand, implicit conversion sees Python automatically transforming one type of information into another without the user’s input.


Operators are symbols that indicate you need to perform some kind of computer operation. The values your operators act on are known as operands.

Operators and operands are grouped into expressions. For instance, “a + b – 3” is a basic expression in which “a” and “b” are operands, whereas “+” and “-“ are operators.

Python provides a nearly unlimited number of operators for turning data objects into expressions. These are grouped into the following categories:

  • Arithmetic operators
  • Comparison operators
  • Logical operators
  • Bitwise operators
  • Identity operators
  • Operator precedence
  • Augmented assignment operators


Python dictionaries are similar to language dictionaries. They’re mutable and unordered repositories that hold mappings of unique keys to values. Dictionaries are normally written using curly brackets ({}). They also include key-value pairs separated by commas, whereas colons separate individual keys from their values.

Don’t Stop at Strings

Answering the what is a Python string question is merely the starting point. If you want to master this programming language, you need to understand other features and their relations. Over time, you’ll become more confident, and strings will no longer be so daunting.

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