CSV File Handling in Python

In this topic, we are going to learn how to read and write CSV files in python.

Definition: CSV (comma separated value) is similar to a text file where data stored are separated by some delimiter (usually a comma). Each field is separated by a delimiter. In Python, CSV files are processed using the CSV module. So, we have to import this module.

Ex: import csv

The below example shows the way the data is stored in a CSV file. Here, a comma is used as a delimiter.

Filename : person_info.csv
first name,middle name,last name,age

CSV file can be opened in any of the following modes:
r –> read mode
w –> write mode
a –> append mode

In Python, a file operation is performed in the following order:

  • Open a file;
  • Read, write, or append. When we specify write mode, the file will be opened in write mode if the file exists, otherwise, it is going to create a file. This is also applicable for append mode. In read mode, if a file exists, it will open the file in read mode, otherwise, it throws FileNotFoundError exception; and
  • Close the file.

Open a csv file

Inbuilt method open() is used.


  • f = open(“filename.csv”,”r”) # In csv python default is read mode
  • f = open(“filename.csv”,’w’) # write mode

Closing a file

Inbuilt method close() is used.

fp = open("filename.csv",’w’)
# perform some file operations


File operations using with

The best way to perform CSV file operation, and the most commonly used method, is with the statement. Using this ensures that the file is closed when the block inside with is exited.


with open(‘filename.csv, ‘w’, encoding = 'utf-8') as fp:
#perform some file operations
#statements outside the with block

When we exit with block, the file will be closed automatically.

Write to a CSV file

To write into a CSV file, we need to open it in write ‘w’ or append ‘a’ mode.

In the below example, we are going to read from one file and write to a new file.

import csv
with open('filename.csv','r') as fp:
    reader = csv.reader(fp)#read file

    with open('newfilename.csv','w') as fq:
        writer = csv.writer(fq, delimiter = '-')
        for line in reader:#To iterrate over each row
            writer.writerow(line)#write line to new file

Using dictionary writer

In the below example, we are going to read from one file and write to a new file using the DictWriter() method.

import csv
with open('filename.csv','r') as fp:
    reader = csv.DictReader(fp)#read file
    with open('newfilename.csv','w',newline='') as fq:#newline = '' to avoid adding extra new line
        row_names = ['first name','middle name','last name','age']
        writer = csv.DictWriter(fq, fieldnames = row_names, delimiter = '-')
        writer.writeheader()#write heading lines

        for line in reader:


This method writes multiple rows at a time; we need to pass a list of lists.


import csv
head_names = ['first name','middle name','last name','age']    
# data rows of csv file
rows = [['Anand','kumar','math',31],

# writing to csv file
with open('newfilename.csv', 'w') as fp:
    # creating a csv writer object
    csvwriter = csv.writer(fp)
    # write the heading
    # write the data rows

Reading from file

To read the CSV file in Python, we must open the file in reading mode ‘r’.


import csv
with open('filename.csv','r') as fp:
    data = csv.reader(fp)
    #default delimiter is comma, if csv separated by other delimiter need to specify
    #Ex data = csv.reader(fp, delimiter = '-')
    print(data) # it return object
    #skipping the header
    next(data)#call next method of generator
    for line in data:#To iterrate over each row
        print(line) # print each value in a list
   bring cursor to first line
    for line in data:
        print(line[0])# print only first names

Using dictionary reader

To read csv file using DictReader() method.

import csv
with open('filename.csv','r') as fp:
    reader = csv.DictReader(fp)#read file
    for line in reader:
        print(line)#print each row in the form of dictinary
   bring cursor to first line
    for data in reader:
        print(data['age'])#we can print only age by using 'age' key


We have learned how to read and write a file using the CSV module. CSV file is the most commonly used file format in the automation industry because it is easy to read and modify the data. Also, Pandas is another method we can use to process CSV files.

About the author

Bamdeb Ghosh

Bamdeb Ghosh

Bamdeb Ghosh is having hands-on experience in Wireless networking domain.He's an expert in Wireshark capture analysis on Wireless or Wired Networking along with knowledge of Android, Bluetooth, Linux commands and python. Follow his site: