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What does %s mean in a Python format string?

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 02 Feb, 2021

The % symbol is used in Python with a large variety of data types and configurations. %s specifically is used to perform concatenation of strings together. It allows us to format a value inside a string. It is used to incorporate another string within a string. It automatically provides type conversion from value to string. 

The %s operator is put where the string is to be specified. The number of values you want to append to a string should be equivalent to the number specified in parentheses after the % operator at the end of the string value. 

The following Python code illustrates the way of performing string formatting. 

Simple use of %s

Python3




# declaring a string variable
name = "Geek"
  
# append a string within a string
print("Hey, %s!" % name)


Output

Hey, Geek!

Multiple %s

Multiple strings can also be appended within a single string using the %s operator. The strings are replaced in the order of their position in the brackets, where ever there is an %s sign. This is illustrated using the following code snippet :

Python3




# declaring a string variable
var1 = "Geek!"
var2 = "Geeks for Geeks"
  
# append multiple strings within a string
print("Hello %s Are you enjoying being at %s for preparations." % (var1, var2))


Output

Hello Geek! Are you enjoying being at Geeks for Geeks for preparations.

Mapping strings to %s

However, the number of occurrences of this operator must be equal to the number of strings to replace with after the % sign. Otherwise, an error of the type “TypeError: not enough arguments for format string” is thrown.

Python3




# declaring string variables
str1 = 'Understanding'
str2 = '%s'
str3 = 'at'
str4 = 'GeeksforGeeks'
  
# concatenating strings but %s not equal to string variables
final_str = "%s %s %s %s" % (str1, str3, str4)
  
# printing the final string
print("Concatenating multiple strings using Python '%s' operator:\n")
print(final_str)


Error

Traceback (most recent call last):

  File “/home/c7b65fabd2ad00163eba70bbc39685d3.py”, line 8, in <module>

    final_str = “%s %s %s %s” % (str1, str3, str4)

TypeError: not enough arguments for format string

Correct Code

Python3




# declaring string variables
str1 = 'Understanding'
str2 = '%s'
str3 = 'at'
str4 = 'GeeksforGeeks'
  
# concatenating strings
final_str = "%s %s %s %s" % (str1, str2, str3, str4)
  
# printing the final string
print("Concatenating multiple strings using Python '%s' operator:\n")
print(final_str)


Output

Concatenating multiple strings using Python '%s' operator:

Understanding %s at GeeksforGeeks

Order %s using dictionary

The strings are printed in whatever order they are appended using the dictionary key in output.

Python3




# declaring string variables with dictionary
dct = {'str1': 'at',
       'str2': 'GeeksforGeeks',
       'str3': 'Understanding',
       'str4': '%s'}
  
# concatenating strings
final_str = "%(str3)s %(str4)s %(str1)s %(str2)s" % dct
  
# printing the final string
print("Concatenating multiple strings using Python '%s' operator:\n")
print(final_str)


Output

Concatenating multiple strings using Python '%s' operator:

Understanding %s at GeeksforGeeks

List as a string for %s

A non-string operator can also be formatted using the %s symbol in Python. Tuples can also be both inserted and formatted using this operator. 

Python3




# declaring string variables
str1 = 'Understanding'
str2 = 'integers'
str3 = 'at'
str4 = 'GeeksforGeeks = '
  
# declaring list variables
lst = [1, 2, 3]
  
# concatenating strings as well as list
final_str = "%s %s %s %s %s" % (str1, str2, str3, str4, lst)
  
# printing the final string
print("Concatenating multiple values using Python '%s' operator:\n")
print(final_str)


Output

Concatenating multiple values using Python '%s' operator:

Understanding integers at GeeksforGeeks =  [1, 2, 3]


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