How to Split a File into a List in Python?

Python, a sophisticated, all-purpose coding language, has emerged as the universal dialect in many spheres, particularly analytics, internet creation, automation, and beyond. Its inherent accessibility and adaptability have made it a top choice for beginners and coders alike. One of Python's unparalleled strengths is its ability to manipulate documents, allowing users to read, compose, edit, and organize documents with amazing ease. In this discourse, we'll explore one such facet: dissecting a document into an array.

Comprehending Documents and Arrays in Python

In the realm of Python, a document represents a specified location on storage media where relevant data is housed. It acts as a means of permanently storing data in non-volatile memory (such as a hard disk). Python supports several document formats, including text files (.txt), PDF files (.pdf), CSV files (.csv), and others.

Conversely, an array constitutes one of Python's innate data structures. It can house diverse elements, including numbers, character strings, and even other arrays. Arrays are mutable, implying they can be modified subsequent to their formation.

Why Dissect a Document into an Array?

Segmenting a document into an array is a routine operation, particularly in data dissection tasks. This operation enables coders to handle each row or element of a document individually, a crucial facet when conducting data exploration, machine learning endeavors, or just managing textual data.

Dissecting a Document into an Array with Python

Python makes the task of slicing a document into an array remarkably straightforward. Let's traverse through this process in a stepwise manner, employing a text document as an instance.

  • Access the Document

  • Initially, you ought to access the document. Python provides a built-in function known as open(), which takes the document name and mode as parameters. The mode, a character string, prescribes how the document will be accessed −

"r" - Read mode (default)

"w" - Write mode

"a" - Append mode

"x" - Generate mode, it will fabricate a document, throws an error if the document exist

"t" - Text mode (default)

"b" - Binary mode

Use the below statement to access a document

document = open("mydocument.txt", "r")
  • Interpret the Document

Once the document is accessed, you can interpret its content employing the read() function. This function interprets the content of a document as a singular voluminous string.

content =
  • Dissect the Document Content into an Array

Next, we aim to dissect the content of our document into an array. The split() function is a Python string method that dissects a string into an array where each word becomes an array item. By default, it dissects at each space. However, if you intend to dissect at each newline, you can pass "\n" as a delimiter.

rows = content.split("\n")
  • Shut the Document

Lastly, it is a commendable habit to always shut the document once you're finished with it. This can be gained by using the close() method −


That’s it! You have successfully dissected a document into an array in Python.

A More Streamlined Approach Using readlines()

Python also offers a more streamlined, efficient method to dissect a document into an array with the readlines() method. This method interprets all the lines in the document and returns them as strings, where each string represents a line in the document.

with open("mydocument.txt", "r") as document:
rows = document.readlines()

Assuming you have a document named mydocument.txt with the following content −

Row 1

Row 2

Row 3

And if you execute the preceding snippet of Python code, it will interpret the content from mydocument.txt and store it as an array of strings in the variable 'rows'. The content of 'rows' would resemble the following output −


['Row 1\n', 'Row 2\n', 'Row 3\n']

Each string in the array embodies a row from the document. The \n at the termination of each string is a newline character, signifying the line break in the original document.

In this code, the 'with' keyword is employed to automatically shut the document after it is no longer required. It is regarded as a best practice for document handling in Python, ensuring that resources are appropriately tidied up.


Python's inherent clarity and grace make document handling tasks like dissecting a document into an array direct and efficient. Understanding how to manipulate documents is a vital competence in Python coding, paving the way for more advanced endeavors, including data exploration and machine learning. So, continue honing your skills, persist with your experiments, and bear in mind: the potency of Python resides in your grasp. Happy coding!

Updated on: 09-Aug-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started