Very often the same step should be performed for a set of the same data type. For example, convert all strings in list to uppercase. Python uses for loop for such purposes.

For loop iterates elements of specified sequence and performs actions specified for each element.

Examples of sequences of elements that can be iterated by for:

An example of converting strings in a list to uppercase without for loop:

In [1]: words = ['list', 'dict', 'tuple']

In [2]: upper_words = []

In [3]: words[0]
Out[3]: 'list'

In [4]: words[0].upper() # converting word to uppercase
Out[4]: 'LIST'

In [5]: upper_words.append(words[0].upper()) # converting and adding to new list

In [6]: upper_words
Out[6]: ['LIST']

In [7]: upper_words.append(words[1].upper())

In [8]: upper_words.append(words[2].upper())

In [9]: upper_words
Out[9]: ['LIST', 'DICT', 'TUPLE']

This solution has several nuances:

  • the same action need to be repeated several times
  • code is tied to a certain number of elements in words list

The same steps with the for loop:

In [10]: words = ['list', 'dict', 'tuple']

In [11]: upper_words = []

In [12]: for word in words:
    ...:     upper_words.append(word.upper())

In [13]: upper_words
Out[13]: ['LIST', 'DICT', 'TUPLE']

Expression for word in words: upper_words.append(word.upper()) means “for each word in words list to perform actions in block for”. In this case, word is the name of the variable, which refers to different values each iteration of the loop.


The pythontutor project can be very helpful in understanding loops. The project visualize code execution and allows you to see what happens at every stage of code execution, which is especially useful in first steps of learning loops. The pythontutor allows you to upload your code, for instance, see example above.

For loop can work with any sequence of elements. For example, the above code used a list and the loop iterated over the elements of the list. The for loop works in a similar way with tuples.

When working with strings for loop iterates through string characters, for example:

In [1]: for letter in 'Test string':
   ...:     print(letter)



Loop uses a variable named letter. Although, it could be any name, it is better when name tells you which objects go through a loop.

Sometimes it is necessary to use sequence of numbers in loop. In this case, it is best to use range

Example of loop for with range() function:

In [2]: for i in range(10):
   ...:     print('interface FastEthernet0/{}'.format(i))
interface FastEthernet0/0
interface FastEthernet0/1
interface FastEthernet0/2
interface FastEthernet0/3
interface FastEthernet0/4
interface FastEthernet0/5
interface FastEthernet0/6
interface FastEthernet0/7
interface FastEthernet0/8
interface FastEthernet0/9

This loop uses range(10). Function range() generates numbers in range from zero to specified number (in this example, up to 10) not including it.

In this example, loop runs through vlans list, so variable can be called vlan:

In [3]: vlans = [10, 20, 30, 40, 100]
In [4]: for vlan in vlans:
   ...:     print('vlan {}'.format(vlan))
   ...:     print(' name VLAN_{}'.format(vlan))
vlan 10
 name VLAN_10
vlan 20
 name VLAN_20
vlan 30
 name VLAN_30
vlan 40
 name VLAN_40
vlan 100
 name VLAN_100

When a loop runs through dictionary, it actually goes through keys:

In [34]: r1 = {
    ...:      'ios': '15.4',
    ...:      'ip': '',
    ...:      'hostname': 'london_r1',
    ...:      'location': '21 New Globe Walk',
    ...:      'model': '4451',
    ...:      'vendor': 'Cisco'}

In [35]: for k in r1:
    ...:     print(k)

If you want to print key-value pairs in loop, you can do this:

In [36]: for key in r1:
    ...:     print(key + ' => ' + r1[key])
ios => 15.4
ip =>
hostname => london_r1
location => 21 New Globe Walk
model => 4451
vendor => Cisco

Or use items() method which allows you to run loop over a key-value pair:

In [37]: for key, value in r1.items():
    ...:     print(key + ' => ' + value)
ios => 15.4
ip =>
hostname => london_r1
location => 21 New Globe Walk
model => 4451
vendor => Cisco

Method items() returns a special view object that displays key-value pairs:

In [38]: r1.items()
Out[38]: dict_items([('ios', '15.4'), ('ip', ''), ('hostname', 'london_r1'), ('location', '21 New Globe Walk'), ('model', '4451'), ('vendor', 'Cisco')])