This tutorial is distributed with PrettyTable and is meant to serve
as a “quick start” guide for the lazy or impatient. It is not an
exhaustive description of the whole API, and it is not guaranteed to be
100% up to date. For more complete and update documentation, check the
PrettyTable wiki at http://code.google.com/p/prettytable/w/list
= Getting your data into (and out of) the table =
Let’s suppose you have a shiny new PrettyTable:
from prettytable import PrettyTable
x = PrettyTable()
and you want to put some data into it. You have a few options.
== Row by row ==
You can add data one row at a time. To do this you can set the field names
first using the field_names attribute, and then add the rows one at a time
using the add_row method:
You can add data one column at a time as well. To do this you use the
add_column method, which takes two arguments - a string which is the name for
the field the column you are adding corresponds to, and a list or tuple which
contains the column data”
If you really want to, you can even mix and match add_row and add_column
and build some of your table in one way and some of it in the other. There’s a
unit test which makes sure that doing things this way will always work out
nicely as if you’d done it using just one of the two approaches. Tables built
this way are kind of confusing for other people to read, though, so don’t do
this unless you have a good reason.
== Importing data from a CSV file ==
If you have your table data in a comma separated values file (.csv), you can
read this data into a PrettyTable like this:
, you can read this data into a
PrettyTable like this:
from prettytable import from_html
mytable = from_html(html_string)
== Importing data from a database cursor ==
If you have your table data in a database which you can access using a library
which confirms to the Python DB-API (e.g. an SQLite database accessible using
the sqlite module), then you can build a PrettyTable using a cursor object,
from prettytable import from_db_cursor
There are three ways to get data out of a PrettyTable, in increasing order of
The del_row method takes an integer index of a single row to delete.
The clear_rows method takes no arguments and deletes all the rows in the
table - but keeps the field names as they were so you that you can repopulate
it with the same kind of data.
The clear method takes no arguments and deletes all rows and all field
names. It’s not quite the same as creating a fresh table instance, though -
style related settings, discussed later, are maintained.
= Displaying your table in ASCII form =
PrettyTable’s main goal is to let you print tables in an attractive ASCII form,
You can print tables like this to stdout or get string representations of
== Printing ==
To print a table in ASCII form, you can just do this:
in Python 2.x or:
in Python 3.x.
The old x.printt() method from versions 0.5 and earlier has been removed.
To pass options changing the look of the table, use the get_string() method
== Stringing ==
If you don’t want to actually print your table in ASCII form but just get a
string containing what would be printed if you use “print x”, you can use
the get_string method:
mystring = x.get_string()
This string is guaranteed to look exactly the same as what would be printed by
doing “print x”. You can now do all the usual things you can do with a
string, like write your table to a file or insert it into a GUI.
== Controlling which data gets displayed ==
If you like, you can restrict the output of print x or x.get_string to
only the fields or rows you like.
The fields argument to these methods takes a list of field names to be
| City name | Population |
| Adelaide | 1158259 |
| Brisbane | 1857594 |
| Darwin | 120900 |
| Hobart | 205556 |
| Melbourne | 3806092 |
| Perth | 1554769 |
| Sydney | 4336374 |
The start and end arguments take the index of the first and last row to
print respectively. Note that the indexing works like Python list slicing - to
print the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rows of the table, set start to 1 (the first row
is row 0, so the second is row 1) and set end to 4 (the index of the 4th row,
| City name | Area | Population | Annual Rainfall |
| Brisbane | 5905 | 1857594 | 1146.4 |
| Darwin | 112 | 120900 | 1714.7 |
| Hobart | 1357 | 205556 | 619.5 |
== Changing the alignment of columns ==
By default, all columns in a table are centre aligned.
=== All columns at once ===
You can change the alignment of all the columns in a table at once by assigning
a one character string to the align attribute. The allowed strings are “l”,
“r” and “c” for left, right and centre alignment, respectively:
You can make sure that your ASCII tables are produced with the data sorted by
one particular field by giving get_string a sortby keyword argument, which
must be a string containing the name of one field.
For example, to print the example table we built earlier of Australian capital
city data, so that the most populated city comes last, we can do this:
If we want the most populated city to come first, we can also give a
If you always want your tables to be sorted in a certain way, you can make
the setting long term like this:
x.sortby = “Population”
All three tables printed by this code will be sorted by population (you could
do x.reversesort = True as well, if you wanted). The behaviour will persist
until you turn it off:
x.sortby = None
If you want to specify a custom sorting function, you can use the sort_key
keyword argument. Pass this a function which accepts two lists of values
and returns a negative or positive value depending on whether the first list
should appeare before or after the second one. If your table has n columns,
each list will have n+1 elements. Each list corresponds to one row of the
table. The first element will be whatever data is in the relevant row, in
the column specified by the sort_by argument. The remaining n elements
are the data in each of the table’s columns, in order, including a repeated
instance of the data in the sort_by column.
= Changing the appearance of your table - the easy way =
By default, PrettyTable produces ASCII tables that look like the ones used in
SQL database shells. But if can print them in a variety of other formats as
well. If the format you want to use is common, PrettyTable makes this very
easy for you to do using the set_style method. If you want to produce an
uncommon table, you’ll have to do things slightly harder (see later).
== Setting a table style ==
You can set the style for your table using the set_style method before any
calls to print or get_string. Here’s how to print a table in a format
which works nicely with Microsoft Word’s “Convert to table” feature:
from prettytable import MSWORD_FRIENDLY
In addition to MSWORD_FRIENDLY there are currently two other in-built styles
you can use for your tables:
DEFAULT - The default look, used to undo any style changes you may have
PLAIN_COLUMN - A borderless style that works well with command line
programs for columnar data
Other styles are likely to appear in future releases.
= Changing the appearance of your table - the hard way =
If you want to display your table in a style other than one of the in-built
styles listed above, you’ll have to set things up the hard way.
Don’t worry, it’s not really that hard!
== Style options ==
PrettyTable has a number of style options which control various aspects of how
tables are displayed. You have the freedom to set each of these options
individually to whatever you prefer. The set_style method just does this
automatically for you.
The options are these:
border - A boolean option (must be True or False). Controls whether
or not a border is drawn around the table.
header - A boolean option (must be True or False). Controls whether
or not the first row of the table is a header showing the names of all the
hrules - Controls printing of horizontal rules after rows. Allowed
values: FRAME, HEADER, ALL, NONE - note that these are variables defined
inside the prettytable module so make sure you import them or use
vrules - Controls printing of vertical rules between columns. Allowed
values: FRAME, ALL, NONE.
int_format - A string which controls the way integer data is printed.
This works like: print “%d” % data
float_format - A string which controls the way floating point data is
printed. This works like: print “%f” % data
padding_width - Number of spaces on either side of column data (only used
if left and right paddings are None).
left_padding_width - Number of spaces on left hand side of column data.
right_padding_width - Number of spaces on right hand side of column data.
vertical_char - Single character string used to draw vertical lines.
Default is |.
horizontal_char - Single character string used to draw horizontal lines.
Default is -.
junction_char - Single character string used to draw line junctions.
Default is +.
You can set the style options to your own settings in two ways:
== Setting style options for the long term ==
If you want to print your table with a different style several times, you can
set your option for the “long term” just by changing the appropriate
attributes. If you never want your tables to have borders you can do this:
x.border = False
Neither of the 3 tables printed by this will have borders, even if you do
things like add extra rows inbetween them. The lack of borders will last until
x.border = True
to turn them on again. This sort of long term setting is exactly how
set_style works. set_style just sets a bunch of attributes to pre-set
values for you.
Note that if you know what style options you want at the moment you are
creating your table, you can specify them using keyword arguments to the
constructor. For example, the following two code blocks are equivalent:
x = PrettyTable(border=False, header=False, padding_width=5)
== Changing style options just once ==
If you don’t want to make long term style changes by changing an attribute like
in the previous section, you can make changes that last for just one
get_string by giving those methods keyword arguments. To print two
“normal” tables with one borderless table between them, you could do this:
= Displaying your table in HTML form =
PrettyTable will also print your tables in HTML form, as <table>s. Just like
in ASCII form, you can actually print your table - just use print_html() - or
get a string representation - just use get_html_string(). HTML printing
supports the fields, start, end, sortby and reversesort arguments in
exactly the same way as ASCII printing.
== Styling HTML tables ==
By default, PrettyTable outputs HTML for “vanilla” tables. The HTML code is
quite simple. It looks like this:
If you like, you can ask PrettyTable to do its best to mimick the style options
that your table has set using inline CSS. This is done by giving a
format=True keyword argument to either the print_html or get_html_string
methods. Note that if you always want to print formatted HTML you can do:
x.format = True
and the setting will persist until you turn it off.
Just like with ASCII tables, if you want to change the table’s style for just
one print_html or one get_html_string you can pass those methods keyword
arguments - exactly like print and get_string.
== Setting HTML attributes ==
You can provide a dictionary of HTML attribute name/value pairs to the
print_html and get_html_string methods using the attributes keyword
argument. This lets you specify common HTML attributes like name, id and
class that can be used for linking to your tables or customising their
appearance using CSS. For example: