Writing a pandas DataFrame to CSV file


I have a dataframe in pandas which I would like to write to a CSV file.

I am doing this using:


And getting the following error:

UnicodeEncodeError: 'ascii' codec can't encode character u'u03b1' in position 20: ordinal not in range(128)
  • Is there any way to get around this easily (i.e. I have unicode characters in my data frame)?
  • And is there a way to write to a tab delimited file instead of a CSV using e.g. a ‘to-tab’ method (that I don’t think exists)?
Asked By: user7289



To delimit by a tab you can use the sep argument of to_csv:

df.to_csv(file_name, sep='t')

To use a specific encoding (e.g. ‘utf-8’) use the encoding argument:

df.to_csv(file_name, sep='t', encoding='utf-8')
Answered By: Andy Hayden

Sometimes you face these problems if you specify UTF-8 encoding also.
I recommend you to specify encoding while reading file and same encoding while writing to file.
This might solve your problem.

Answered By: Harsha Komarraju

Something else you can try if you are having issues encoding to ‘utf-8’ and want to go cell by cell you could try the following.

Python 2

(Where “df” is your DataFrame object.)

for column in df.columns:
    for idx in df[column].index:
        x = df.get_value(idx,column)
            x = unicode(x.encode('utf-8','ignore'),errors ='ignore') if type(x) == unicode else unicode(str(x),errors='ignore')
        except Exception:
            print 'encoding error: {0} {1}'.format(idx,column)

Then try:


You can check the encoding of the columns by:

for column in df.columns:
    print '{0} {1}'.format(str(type(df[column][0])),str(column))

Warning: errors=’ignore’ will just omit the character e.g.

IN: unicode('Regenexxxae',errors='ignore')
OUT: u'Regenexx'

Python 3

for column in df.columns:
    for idx in df[column].index:
        x = df.get_value(idx,column)
            x = x if type(x) == str else str(x).encode('utf-8','ignore').decode('utf-8','ignore')
        except Exception:
            print('encoding error: {0} {1}'.format(idx,column))
Answered By: Glen Thompson

When you are storing a DataFrame object into a csv file using the to_csv method, you probably wont be needing to store the preceding indices of each row of the DataFrame object.

You can avoid that by passing a False boolean value to index parameter.

Somewhat like:

df.to_csv(file_name, encoding='utf-8', index=False)

So if your DataFrame object is something like:

  Color  Number
0   red     22
1  blue     10

The csv file will store:


instead of (the case when the default value True was passed)

Answered By: Sayan Sil

it could be not the answer for this case, but as I had the same error-message with .to_csvI tried .toCSV('name.csv') and the error-message was different (“SparseDataFrame' object has no attribute 'toCSV'). So the problem was solved by turning dataframe to dense dataframe

df.to_dense().to_csv("submission.csv", index = False, sep=',', encoding='utf-8')
Answered By: Yury Wallet

To write a pandas DataFrame to a CSV file, you will need DataFrame.to_csv. This function offers many arguments with reasonable defaults that you will more often than not need to override to suit your specific use case. For example, you might want to use a different separator, change the datetime format, or drop the index when writing. to_csv has arguments you can pass to address these requirements.

Here’s a table listing some common scenarios of writing to CSV files and the corresponding arguments you can use for them.

Write to CSV ma dude


  1. The default separator is assumed to be a comma (','). Don’t change this unless you know you need to.
  2. By default, the index of df is written as the first column. If your DataFrame does not have an index (IOW, the df.index is the default RangeIndex), then you will want to set index=False when writing. To explain this in a different way, if your data DOES have an index, you can (and should) use index=True or just leave it out completely (as the default is True).
  3. It would be wise to set this parameter if you are writing string data so that other applications know how to read your data. This will also avoid any potential UnicodeEncodeErrors you might encounter while saving.
  4. Compression is recommended if you are writing large DataFrames (>100K rows) to disk as it will result in much smaller output files.
    OTOH, it will mean the write time will increase (and consequently, the
    read time since the file will need to be decompressed).
Answered By: cs95

Example of export in file with full path on Windows and in case your file has headers:

df.to_csv (r'C:UsersJohnDesktopexport_dataframe.csv', index = None, header=True) 

For example, if you want to store the file in same directory where your script is, with utf-8 encoding and tab as separator:

df.to_csv(r'./export/dftocsv.csv', sep='t', encoding='utf-8', header='true')
Answered By: Hrvoje

If above solution not working for anyone or the CSV is getting messed up, just remove sep='t' from the line like this:

df.to_csv(file_name, encoding='utf-8')
Answered By: Shahriar Kabir Khan

I would avoid using the ‘t’ separate and would create issues when reading the dataset again.

df.to_csv(file_name, encoding=’utf-8′)

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