Replace Tabs with Spaces in Python

Tabs and Spaces in Python

Tabs and spaces are required to add some gaps between characters. Space is fixed with single column width whereas a tab can have multiple column widths (usually two or four).

In Python, we rely on indentation for defining blocks of codes so it is essential to know about spaces and tabs. Another thing of concern is that multiple spaces of the width of a tab and a single tab are not the same thing and usually some indentation error is thrown.

Replace tabs with spaces in Python

We will discuss in this article how to replace tabs with spaces in Python. In Python, we can use escape sequences to represent some characters like newline, tab, and more. The escape sequence for tabs is \t.

We will search a string for tabs and replace them with spaces. We will find the tabs using the escape sequence \t.

Using the replace() function to replace tabs with spaces in Python

The replace() function is used to find the occurrence of some given substring in a string, and replace it with another specified substring. It returns a new string after making the necessary substitutions.

We can use this function to replace tabs with spaces in Python. We will specify the tabs as \t within the function.

See the code below.

Output:

hello welcome to java 2 blog

In the above example, we can observe that all tabs have been replaced by spaces.

Using the re.sub() function to replace tabs with spaces in Python

In Python, we use the re library to work with regular expressions (regex). We can use regex patterns to match some parts of a string and process them using the functions of this library.

The re.sub() function can be used to replace substrings from a string. It identifies the substring to be replaced using a regex pattern.

We can use this function like the replace() function as well and only specify the characters to be replaced.

We will use this function to replace tabs with spaces in the following example.

Output:

hello welcome to java 2 blog

Using the split() and join() functions to replace tabs with spaces in Python

The split() and join() methods perform opposite functions. The split() function can split a string based on a character into a list of substrings. The latter is used to combine the elements from an iterable and return a string with all the elements.

We will use both these methods together to replace tabs with spaces in Python.

We will split a string based on the tabs. Then we will combine them using the space as a separator with the join() function. This way, the tabs will get replaced by spaces.

See the code below.

Output:

hello welcome to java 2 blog

Conclusion

To conclude, in this tutorial, we demonstrated several methods how to replace tabs with spaces in Python. We first discussed tabs and spaces in Python. Their effect on indentation was also discussed.

The first two methods replace the tabs with spaces by directly specifying them in the function. The tabs were identified using the escape sequence \t.

In the final method, we first had to split the string based on tabs and then merge them with spaces as separators using the split() and join() functions.

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