Stripping everything but alphanumeric chars from a string in Python

The Question :

360 people think this question is useful

What is the best way to strip all non alphanumeric characters from a string, using Python?

The solutions presented in the PHP variant of this question will probably work with some minor adjustments, but don’t seem very ‘pythonic’ to me.

For the record, I don’t just want to strip periods and commas (and other punctuation), but also quotes, brackets, etc.

The Question Comments :
  • Do you care about international alphanumeric chars, like ‘æøå’, ‘مرحبا’, ‘สวัสดี’, ‘こんにちは’ ?
  • @PiminKonstantinKefaloukos Yes I do care about the international chars, hence my comment on the accepted answer to use re.UNICODE.

The Answer 1

358 people think this answer is useful

I just timed some functions out of curiosity. In these tests I’m removing non-alphanumeric characters from the string string.printable (part of the built-in string module). The use of compiled '[\W_]+' and pattern.sub('', str) was found to be fastest.

$ python -m timeit -s \
     "import string" \
     "''.join(ch for ch in string.printable if ch.isalnum())" 
10000 loops, best of 3: 57.6 usec per loop

$ python -m timeit -s \
    "import string" \
    "filter(str.isalnum, string.printable)"                 
10000 loops, best of 3: 37.9 usec per loop

$ python -m timeit -s \
    "import re, string" \
    "re.sub('[\W_]', '', string.printable)"
10000 loops, best of 3: 27.5 usec per loop

$ python -m timeit -s \
    "import re, string" \
    "re.sub('[\W_]+', '', string.printable)"                
100000 loops, best of 3: 15 usec per loop

$ python -m timeit -s \
    "import re, string; pattern = re.compile('[\W_]+')" \
    "pattern.sub('', string.printable)" 
100000 loops, best of 3: 11.2 usec per loop

The Answer 2

296 people think this answer is useful

Regular expressions to the rescue:

import re
re.sub(r'\W+', '', your_string)

By Python definition '\W == [^a-zA-Z0-9_], which excludes all numbers, letters and _

The Answer 3

71 people think this answer is useful

Use the str.translate() method.

Presuming you will be doing this often:

(1) Once, create a string containing all the characters you wish to delete:

delchars = ''.join(c for c in map(chr, range(256)) if not c.isalnum())

(2) Whenever you want to scrunch a string:

scrunched = s.translate(None, delchars)

The setup cost probably compares favourably with re.compile; the marginal cost is way lower:

C:\junk>\python26\python -mtimeit -s"import string;d=''.join(c for c in map(chr,range(256)) if not c.isalnum());s=string.printable" "s.translate(None,d)"
100000 loops, best of 3: 2.04 usec per loop

C:\junk>\python26\python -mtimeit -s"import re,string;s=string.printable;r=re.compile(r'[\W_]+')" "r.sub('',s)"
100000 loops, best of 3: 7.34 usec per loop

Note: Using string.printable as benchmark data gives the pattern ‘[\W_]+’ an unfair advantage; all the non-alphanumeric characters are in one bunch … in typical data there would be more than one substitution to do:

C:\junk>\python26\python -c "import string; s = string.printable; print len(s),repr(s)"
100 '0123456789abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ!"#$%&\'()*+,-./:;=>?@[\\]^_`{|}~ \t\n\r\x0b\x0c'

Here’s what happens if you give re.sub a bit more work to do:

C:\junk>\python26\python -mtimeit -s"d=''.join(c for c in map(chr,range(256)) if not c.isalnum());s='foo-'*25" "s.translate(None,d)"
1000000 loops, best of 3: 1.97 usec per loop

C:\junk>\python26\python -mtimeit -s"import re;s='foo-'*25;r=re.compile(r'[\W_]+')" "r.sub('',s)"
10000 loops, best of 3: 26.4 usec per loop

The Answer 4

47 people think this answer is useful

You could try:

print ''.join(ch for ch in some_string if ch.isalnum())

The Answer 5

16 people think this answer is useful
>>> import re
>>> string = "Kl13@£$%[};'\""
>>> pattern = re.compile('\W')
>>> string = re.sub(pattern, '', string)
>>> print string

The Answer 6

15 people think this answer is useful

How about:

def ExtractAlphanumeric(InputString):
    from string import ascii_letters, digits
    return "".join([ch for ch in InputString if ch in (ascii_letters + digits)])

This works by using list comprehension to produce a list of the characters in InputString if they are present in the combined ascii_letters and digits strings. It then joins the list together into a string.

The Answer 7

7 people think this answer is useful

As a spin off from some other answers here, I offer a really simple and flexible way to define a set of characters that you want to limit a string’s content to. In this case, I’m allowing alphanumerics PLUS dash and underscore. Just add or remove characters from my PERMITTED_CHARS as suits your use case.

PERMITTED_CHARS = "0123456789abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_-" 
someString = "".join(c for c in someString if c in PERMITTED_CHARS)

The Answer 8

6 people think this answer is useful
sent = "".join(e for e in sent if e.isalpha())

The Answer 9

3 people think this answer is useful

Timing with random strings of ASCII printables:

from inspect import getsource
from random import sample
import re
from string import printable
from timeit import timeit

pattern_single = re.compile(r'[\W]')
pattern_repeat = re.compile(r'[\W]+')
translation_tb = str.maketrans('', '', ''.join(c for c in map(chr, range(256)) if not c.isalnum()))

def generate_test_string(length):
    return ''.join(sample(printable, length))

def main():
    for i in range(0, 60, 10):
        for test in [
            lambda: ''.join(c for c in generate_test_string(i) if c.isalnum()),
            lambda: ''.join(filter(str.isalnum, generate_test_string(i))),
            lambda: re.sub(r'[\W]', '', generate_test_string(i)),
            lambda: re.sub(r'[\W]+', '', generate_test_string(i)),
            lambda: pattern_single.sub('', generate_test_string(i)),
            lambda: pattern_repeat.sub('', generate_test_string(i)),
            lambda: generate_test_string(i).translate(translation_tb),

            print(timeit(test), i, getsource(test).lstrip('            lambda: ').rstrip(',\n'), sep='\t')

if __name__ == '__main__':

Result (Python 3.7):

       Time       Length                           Code                           
6.3716264850008880  00  ''.join(c for c in generate_test_string(i) if c.isalnum())
5.7285426190064750  00  ''.join(filter(str.isalnum, generate_test_string(i)))
8.1875841680011940  00  re.sub(r'[\W]', '', generate_test_string(i))
8.0002205439959650  00  re.sub(r'[\W]+', '', generate_test_string(i))
5.5290945199958510  00  pattern_single.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
5.4417179649972240  00  pattern_repeat.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
4.6772285089973590  00  generate_test_string(i).translate(translation_tb)
23.574712151996210  10  ''.join(c for c in generate_test_string(i) if c.isalnum())
22.829975890002970  10  ''.join(filter(str.isalnum, generate_test_string(i)))
27.210196289997840  10  re.sub(r'[\W]', '', generate_test_string(i))
27.203713296003116  10  re.sub(r'[\W]+', '', generate_test_string(i))
24.008979928999906  10  pattern_single.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
23.945240008994006  10  pattern_repeat.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
21.830899796994345  10  generate_test_string(i).translate(translation_tb)
38.731336012999236  20  ''.join(c for c in generate_test_string(i) if c.isalnum())
37.942474347000825  20  ''.join(filter(str.isalnum, generate_test_string(i)))
42.169366310001350  20  re.sub(r'[\W]', '', generate_test_string(i))
41.933375883003464  20  re.sub(r'[\W]+', '', generate_test_string(i))
38.899814646996674  20  pattern_single.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
38.636144253003295  20  pattern_repeat.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
36.201238164998360  20  generate_test_string(i).translate(translation_tb)
49.377356811004574  30  ''.join(c for c in generate_test_string(i) if c.isalnum())
48.408927293996385  30  ''.join(filter(str.isalnum, generate_test_string(i)))
53.901889764994850  30  re.sub(r'[\W]', '', generate_test_string(i))
52.130339455994545  30  re.sub(r'[\W]+', '', generate_test_string(i))
50.061149017004940  30  pattern_single.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
49.366573111998150  30  pattern_repeat.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
46.649754120997386  30  generate_test_string(i).translate(translation_tb)
63.107938601999194  40  ''.join(c for c in generate_test_string(i) if c.isalnum())
65.116287978999030  40  ''.join(filter(str.isalnum, generate_test_string(i)))
71.477421126997800  40  re.sub(r'[\W]', '', generate_test_string(i))
66.027950693998720  40  re.sub(r'[\W]+', '', generate_test_string(i))
63.315361931003280  40  pattern_single.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
62.342320287003530  40  pattern_repeat.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
58.249303059004890  40  generate_test_string(i).translate(translation_tb)
73.810345625002810  50  ''.join(c for c in generate_test_string(i) if c.isalnum())
72.593953348005020  50  ''.join(filter(str.isalnum, generate_test_string(i)))
76.048324580995540  50  re.sub(r'[\W]', '', generate_test_string(i))
75.106637657001560  50  re.sub(r'[\W]+', '', generate_test_string(i))
74.681338128997600  50  pattern_single.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
72.430461594005460  50  pattern_repeat.sub('', generate_test_string(i))
69.394243567003290  50  generate_test_string(i).translate(translation_tb)

str.maketrans & str.translate is fastest, but includes all non-ASCII characters. re.compile & pattern.sub is slower, but is somehow faster than ''.join & filter.

The Answer 10

2 people think this answer is useful
for char in my_string:
    if not char.isalnum():
        my_string = my_string.replace(char,"")

The Answer 11

-2 people think this answer is useful

If i understood correctly the easiest way is to use regular expression as it provides you lots of flexibility but the other simple method is to use for loop following is the code with example I also counted the occurrence of word and stored in dictionary..

s = """An... essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own 
argument — but the definition is vague, 
overlapping with those of a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story. Essays 
have traditionally been 
sub-classified as formal and informal. Formal essays are characterized by "serious 
purpose, dignity, logical 
organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal 
element (self-revelation, 
individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, 
rambling structure, unconventionality 
or novelty of theme," etc.[1]"""

d = {}      # creating empty dic      
words = s.split() # spliting string and stroing in list
for word in words:
    new_word = ''
    for c in word:
        if c.isalnum(): # checking if indiviual chr is alphanumeric or not
            new_word = new_word + c
    print(new_word, end=' ')
    # if new_word not in d:
    #     d[new_word] = 1
    # else:
    #     d[new_word] = d[new_word] +1

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