How to Read CSV to List in Python

Afia Ghazanfar Feb 02, 2024
  1. Read CSV Into a List in Python Using csv.reader
  2. Read CSV Into a List in Python Using csv.reader With Other Delimiters
How to Read CSV to List in Python

This article introduces how to read CSV to list in Python.

Let’s suppose we have a CSV file Employees.csv with the following content in it,

Id Name Department email Salary
1 Sam Human Resource 65K
2 John Management 58K
3 Tony IT 70K
4 Mike Accounts 35K

If you open this file using some text editor, its content should look like this.

1,Sam,Human Resource,,65K

Now we will import the above data of this CSV file into a Python list.

Read CSV Into a List in Python Using csv.reader

Python has a built-in module named CSV, which has a reader class to read the contents of a CSV file. The example code to read the CSV to a list in Python is as follows.

from csv import reader

with open("Employees.csv", "r") as csv_file:
    csv_reader = reader(csv_file)
    # Passing the cav_reader object to list() to get a list of lists
    list_of_rows = list(csv_reader)

csv_reader = reader(csv_file) passes the file ojbect csv_file to the csv.reader() function and gets the reader object. It returns an iterator, which is used to iterate over all the lines of the CSV file.

list_of_rows = list(csv_reader) converts the csv.reader object to a list of lists, where each element of the list means a row of CSV, and each item in the list element represents a cell or column in a row.


    ["Id", "Name", "Company", "email", "Salary"],
    ["1", "Sam", "Human Resource", "", "65K"],
    ["2", "John", "Management", "", "58K"],
    ["3", "Tonny", "IT", "", "70K"],
    ["4", "Mike", "Accounts", "", "35K"],

Read CSV Into a List in Python Using csv.reader With Other Delimiters

The csv.reader function also provides an option to read the text files in which values are separated by some other character rather than a comma. For example, the delimiter could be a tab or white space. To read such files, we need to pass an extra parameter delimiter to the reader function. See the example below.

If we have a file Employees_TSV.csv with the same content as in Employees.csv but separated by tab rather than a comma.

from csv import reader

with open("Employees_TSV.csv", "r") as csv_file:
    csv_reader = reader(csv_file, delimiter="\t")
    list_of_rows = list(csv_reader)

We read data from a tab-separated values file in the above code. delimiter = '\t' specifies that the delimiter in the CSV file is the tab.

The output of this code is the same as the above.

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Related Article - Python CSV