How to sort a list of strings?


What is the best way of creating an alphabetically sorted list in Python?

This question is tagged with python string sorting

~ Asked on 2008-08-30 17:03:09

11 Answers


Basic answer:

mylist = ["b", "C", "A"]

This modifies your original list (i.e. sorts in-place). To get a sorted copy of the list, without changing the original, use the sorted() function:

for x in sorted(mylist):
    print x

However, the examples above are a bit naive, because they don't take locale into account, and perform a case-sensitive sorting. You can take advantage of the optional parameter key to specify custom sorting order (the alternative, using cmp, is a deprecated solution, as it has to be evaluated multiple times - key is only computed once per element).

So, to sort according to the current locale, taking language-specific rules into account (cmp_to_key is a helper function from functools):

sorted(mylist, key=cmp_to_key(locale.strcoll))

And finally, if you need, you can specify a custom locale for sorting:

import locale
locale.setlocale(locale.LC_ALL, 'en_US.UTF-8') # vary depending on your lang/locale
assert sorted((u'Ab', u'ad', u'aa'),
  key=cmp_to_key(locale.strcoll)) == [u'aa', u'Ab', u'ad']

Last note: you will see examples of case-insensitive sorting which use the lower() method - those are incorrect, because they work only for the ASCII subset of characters. Those two are wrong for any non-English data:

# this is incorrect!
mylist.sort(key=lambda x: x.lower())
# alternative notation, a bit faster, but still wrong

~ Answered on 2008-08-30 17:10:12


It is also worth noting the sorted() function:

for x in sorted(list):
    print x

This returns a new, sorted version of a list without changing the original list.

~ Answered on 2008-08-30 22:14:36



It really is that simple :)

~ Answered on 2008-08-30 17:04:40


The proper way to sort strings is:

import locale
locale.setlocale(locale.LC_ALL, 'en_US.UTF-8') # vary depending on your lang/locale
assert sorted((u'Ab', u'ad', u'aa'), cmp=locale.strcoll) == [u'aa', u'Ab', u'ad']

# Without using locale.strcoll you get:
assert sorted((u'Ab', u'ad', u'aa')) == [u'Ab', u'aa', u'ad']

The previous example of mylist.sort(key=lambda x: x.lower()) will work fine for ASCII-only contexts.

~ Answered on 2009-10-28 22:45:59


Please use sorted() function in Python3

items = ["love", "like", "play", "cool", "my"]

~ Answered on 2017-12-27 13:24:41


But how does this handle language specific sorting rules? Does it take locale into account?

No, list.sort() is a generic sorting function. If you want to sort according to the Unicode rules, you'll have to define a custom sort key function. You can try using the pyuca module, but I don't know how complete it is.

~ Answered on 2008-08-30 18:10:45


Old question, but if you want to do locale-aware sorting without setting locale.LC_ALL you can do so by using the PyICU library as suggested by this answer:

import icu # PyICU

def sorted_strings(strings, locale=None):
    if locale is None:
       return sorted(strings)
    collator = icu.Collator.createInstance(icu.Locale(locale))
    return sorted(strings, key=collator.getSortKey)

Then call with e.g.:

new_list = sorted_strings(list_of_strings, "de_DE.utf8")

This worked for me without installing any locales or changing other system settings.

(This was already suggested in a comment above, but I wanted to give it more prominence, because I missed it myself at first.)

~ Answered on 2019-08-28 12:39:38


Suppose s = "ZWzaAd"

To sort above string the simple solution will be below one.

print ''.join(sorted(s))

~ Answered on 2017-05-12 06:16:39


Or maybe:

names = ['Jasmine', 'Alberto', 'Ross', 'dig-dog']
print ("The solution for this is about this names being sorted:",sorted(names, key=lambda name:name.lower()))

~ Answered on 2018-08-13 15:46:05


l =['abc' , 'cd' , 'xy' , 'ba' , 'dc']


['abc', 'ba', 'cd', 'dc', 'xy']

~ Answered on 2019-12-07 07:21:12


It is simple:

scores = '54 - Alice,35 - Bob,27 - Carol,27 - Chuck,05 - Craig,30 - Dan,27 - Erin,77 - Eve,14 - Fay,20 - Frank,48 - Grace,61 - Heidi,03 - Judy,28 - Mallory,05 - Olivia,44 - Oscar,34 - Peggy,30 - Sybil,82 - Trent,75 - Trudy,92 - Victor,37 - Walter'

scores = scores.split(',') for x in sorted(scores): print(x)

~ Answered on 2020-06-03 02:16:29

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