What Is the Data Type of Data Read From a File in Python?


Heather Bennett

When working with files in Python, it is important to understand the data type of the data that is read from the file. The data type determines how the data is stored in memory and affects how it can be manipulated and used in your program.

Data Types in Python

In Python, there are several built-in data types that can be used to represent different kinds of values. Some of the commonly used data types include:

  • Integers: Integers are used to represent whole numbers without any fractional part. For example, 1, 100, and -10 are all integers.
  • Floats: Floats are used to represent numbers with a fractional part. For example, 3.14, -0.5, and 2e-3 are all floats.
  • Strings: Strings are used to represent sequences of characters. They are enclosed in either single quotes (”) or double quotes (“”).

    For example, “hello” and ‘world’ are both strings.

  • Lists: Lists are used to store multiple values in an ordered sequence. Each value in a list is called an element and can be of any data type. Lists are represented by square brackets ([]). For example, [1, 2, 3] is a list containing three integer elements.

Data Type Inference

In Python, the data type of the data read from a file is determined by the content of the file itself. When you read data from a file using file handling methods like f.read(), Python tries to infer the appropriate data type based on the content of the file.

If the content of the file can be converted to an integer, Python will read it as an integer. Similarly, if the content can be converted to a float or a string, Python will read it accordingly.

For example, consider a file with the following content:


If you read this file using f.read(), Python will infer the data types as follows:

  • The first line will be read as an integer with the value of 42.
  • The second line will be read as a float with the value of 3.14.
  • The third line will be read as a string with the value of “hello”.

Data Type Conversion

Sometimes, you may need to explicitly convert the read data into a specific data type. Python provides built-in functions for converting between different data types:

  • int(): Converts a value to an integer.
  • float(): Converts a value to a float.
  • str(): Converts a value to a string.

You can use these conversion functions to convert the read data into the desired data type. For example, if you want to convert the read integer into a float, you can use float(read_data).


In summary, when reading data from a file in Python, the data type of the read data is determined by its content. Python infers the appropriate data type based on the content of the file. However, if you need to perform specific operations or manipulations on the read data, you may need to convert it to a different data type using the appropriate conversion functions.

Understanding the data type of the data read from a file is essential for effectively working with file input in Python. It allows you to manipulate and use the data accurately in your program, ensuring that your code functions as intended.

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