How can I fill out a Python string with spaces?

The Question :

556 people think this question is useful

I want to fill out a string with spaces. I know that the following works for zero’s:

>>> print  "'%06d'"%4
'000004'

But what should I do when I want this?:

'hi    '

of course I can measure string length and do str+" "*leftover, but I’d like the shortest way.

The Question Comments :
  • I know it might be deprecated in the future, but I still like this good old method: "%-6s" % s for left-aligned and "%6s" % s for right-aligned.

The Answer 1

762 people think this answer is useful

You can do this with str.ljust(width[, fillchar]):

Return the string left justified in a string of length width. Padding is done using the specified fillchar (default is a space). The original string is returned if width is less than len(s).

>>> 'hi'.ljust(10)
'hi        '

The Answer 2

422 people think this answer is useful

For a flexible method that works even when formatting complicated string, you probably should use the string-formatting mini-language, using either the str.format() method

>>> '{0: <16} StackOverflow!'.format('Hi')  # Python >=2.6
'Hi               StackOverflow!'

of f-strings

>>> f'{"Hi": <16} StackOverflow!'  # Python >= 3.6
'Hi               StackOverflow!'

The Answer 3

133 people think this answer is useful

The new(ish) string format method lets you do some fun stuff with nested keyword arguments. The simplest case:

>>> '{message: <16}'.format(message='Hi')
'Hi             '

If you want to pass in 16 as a variable:

>>> '{message: <{width}}'.format(message='Hi', width=16)
'Hi              '

If you want to pass in variables for the whole kit and kaboodle:

'{message:{fill}{align}{width}}'.format(
   message='Hi',
   fill=' ',
   align='<',
   width=16,
)

Which results in (you guessed it):

'Hi              '

And for all these, you can use python 3.6 f-strings:

message = 'Hi'
fill = ' '
align = '<'
width = 16
f'{message:{fill}{align}{width}}'

And of course the result:

'Hi              '

The Answer 4

81 people think this answer is useful

You can try this:

print "'%-100s'" % 'hi'

The Answer 5

66 people think this answer is useful

Correct way of doing this would be to use Python’s format syntax as described in the official documentation

For this case it would simply be:
'{:10}'.format('hi')
which outputs:
'hi '

Explanation:

format_spec ::=  [[fill]align][sign][#][0][width][,][.precision][type]
fill        ::=  <any character>
align       ::=  "<" | ">" | "=" | "^"
sign        ::=  "+" | "-" | " "
width       ::=  integer
precision   ::=  integer
type        ::=  "b" | "c" | "d" | "e" | "E" | "f" | "F" | "g" | "G" | "n" | "o" | "s" | "x" | "X" | "%"

Pretty much all you need to know is there ^.

Update: as of python 3.6 it’s even more convenient with literal string interpolation!

foo = 'foobar'
print(f'{foo:10} is great!')
# foobar     is great!

The Answer 6

39 people think this answer is useful

Use str.ljust():

>>> 'Hi'.ljust(6)
'Hi    '

You should also consider string.zfill(), str.ljust() and str.center() for string formatting. These can be chained and have the ‘fill‘ character specified, thus:

>>> ('3'.zfill(8) + 'blind'.rjust(8) + 'mice'.ljust(8, '.')).center(40)
'        00000003   blindmice....        '

These string formatting operations have the advantage of working in Python v2 and v3.

Take a look at pydoc str sometime: there’s a wealth of good stuff in there.

The Answer 7

29 people think this answer is useful

As of Python 3.6 you can just do

>>> strng = 'hi'
>>> f'{strng: <10}'

with literal string interpolation.

Or, if your padding size is in a variable, like this (thanks @Matt M.!):

>>> to_pad = 10
>>> f'{strng: <{to_pad}}'

The Answer 8

17 people think this answer is useful

you can also center your string:

'{0: ^20}'.format('nice')

The Answer 9

7 people think this answer is useful

Use Python 2.7’s mini formatting for strings:

'{0: <8}'.format('123')

This left aligns, and pads to 8 characters with the ‘ ‘ character.

The Answer 10

5 people think this answer is useful

Just remove the 0 and it will add space instead:

>>> print  "'%6d'"%4

The Answer 11

2 people think this answer is useful

Wouldn’t it be more pythonic to use slicing?

For example, to pad a string with spaces on the right until it’s 10 characters long:

>>> x = "string"    
>>> (x + " " * 10)[:10]   
'string    '

To pad it with spaces on the left until it’s 15 characters long:

>>> (" " * 15 + x)[-15:]
'         string'

It requires knowing how long you want to pad to, of course, but it doesn’t require measuring the length of the string you’re starting with.

The Answer 12

0 people think this answer is useful

A nice trick to use in place of the various print formats:

(1) Pad with spaces to the right:

('hi' + '        ')[:8]

(2) Pad with leading zeros on the left:

('0000' + str(2))[-4:]

The Answer 13

-5 people think this answer is useful

You could do it using list comprehension, this’d give you an idea about the number of spaces too and would be a one liner.

"hello" + " ".join([" " for x in range(1,10)])
output --> 'hello                 '

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