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Getting Started With Python Print: Outputting Messages

Reading time 3 min
Published Sep 23, 2019
Updated Oct 3, 2019

TL;DR – Python print() can be used to show a message in the Python terminal or to write a series of characters into an external file.

What the Python print() function does

Printing in Python normally involves displaying a message or outputting a result in the Python terminal. You can use print() with one parameter:

Example
print(object)

However, print() operations work with up to four parameters:

Example
print(object(s), sep = 'separator', end = '\n', file = sys.dout, flush = False)

The objects(s) are the objects which will be printed. The Python print() function can take more than one of these. If multiple objects are present, then the separator tells Python what delimiter should be inserted between each.

Meanwhile, the end parameter allows you to insert a statement to be printed at the end of the output. file lets you write the output to a file. Finally, flush can forcibly output the stream following the print() operation.

separator, end, file and flush are all keywords. Therefore, if you want to include these parameters while printing in Python, you need to pay attention to their standard use.

Here's an example of using Python print() with several parameters:

Example
print('x', '2', sep = ' is ')

How to print in Python

It’s easy to use the print() function in Python to print a string directly:

Example
print('hello world')

It’s equally easy to use print() to display the value of an object, as shown below:

Example
a = 2
print('a', a, sep = ' is ')

Note: print() in Python 3 was updated significantly. This guide uses print() statements for Python 3.x rather than print commands of Python 2.x.

Printing to a file in Python

If you don’t specify the file parameter when you call the print() command, Python will display text in the terminal.

However, if you use the open command to load a file in write mode prior to calling the Python print() function, characters and values can be written directly into it:

Example
fl = open('file.txt', 'w')
print('This text will be written in the file', file = fl)
fl.close()

Python 3 print() with a formatted output

A variety of characters can be used to output specially formatted text in Python. One frequently used example is %s which will tell Python to display a numeric value as a string:

Example
pi = 3.1416
print('2 x Pi = %s' % (2 * pi))

Specifying end parameters when printing in Python

You may wish to position the printed information with extra text using the end keyword. You can also add extra strings or spaces, like in the example below where the \n (newline) character is used:

Example
print('This line will be three line breaks above...', end = '\n\n\n')
print('... this line of text')

The previous example code will create the output below:

Example
This line will be three line breaks above...


... this line of text

Python print(): useful tips

  • The + operator, which can concatenate strings in Python, also works within print() operations.
  • The print statement was not a function in Python 2. In Python 3, print became a function and requires parentheses to work.