Python Remove First Character from String

5 min read

In this tutorial, we will learn how we can remove first character from string in Python. We’ll provide clear examples to equip us with the knowledge needed to tackle this common programming challenge. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

Why the need to remove first character from string?

There are certain coding scenarios that require us to carry out string manipulation by removing certain characters from the string.

In this particular case, we are interested in removing the first character from one or more strings. Whether dealing with user inputs or data from files where we might have lots of such strings to manipulate, knowing how to handle such an operation is essential.

The need to remove the first character from a string could arise while cleaning data for analysis, making formatting adjustments, or in other scenarios.

The challenge lies in extracting the part of the string we need while discarding the unwanted initial character.

This process is crucial, especially when dealing with user inputs where the first character may represent a specific indicator, symbol, or formatting artifact that needs to be excluded or removed.

Two ways to remove the first character from a string

In our quest to address the challenge of removing the first character from a string, we explore two distinct yet effective techniques.

Each approach provides a unique perspective on how to achieve this task, catering to different scenarios and preferences in Python programming.

Using string slicing to remove the first character from string

We can remove the first character from a string by creating a new string that is made up of the remaining characters of the original string.

We can employ Python’s string slicing for this.

With slicing, we can extract a portion of a string by specifying the starting and ending indices. When removing the first character from a string, we can leverage string slicing to obtain a substring that excludes the initial character.


You can learn more about slicing strings in Python in the article: Strings in Python.

The following code illustrates the use of this technique to remove the first character from a string:

# Original string
original_string = "Hello, World!"

# Using string slicing to remove the first character
new_string = original_string[1:]

# Displaying the result
print("Original String:", original_string)
print("String after removing the first character:", new_string)

In the example above, original_string[1:] extracts a substring starting from the second character (index 1) to the end of the string.

The result, stored innew_string, is a modified version of the original string without its first character. The output showcases the transformation, providing a visual representation of the original and modified strings.

output for removing first character from string using slicing

Remove first character from String using regular expressions

Regular expressions (regex) provide a powerful and flexible way to search, match, and manipulate strings.


There’s more information about regular expressions in the article RegEx in Python. The article about replacing spaces with underscores gives another example of how to carry out string substitution in Python.

In the context of removing the first character from a string, we can employ a regex pattern to target and eliminate specific leading characters.

import re

# Original string with a leading hash symbol
original_string = "#TGIF"

# Using regular expressions to remove the leading hash symbol
cleaned_string = re.sub(r'^#', '', original_string)

# Displaying the result
print("Original String:", original_string)
print("String after removing the leading hash symbol:", cleaned_string)

The regex patternr'^#' is crafted to match the leading hash symbol (^ denotes the start of the string and# matches the hash symbol).

Then, re.sub(r'^#', '', original_string) utilizes thesub function from there module to substitute any leading hash symbol in original_string with an empty string.

The result, stored incleaned_string, represents the modified string without the leading hash symbol.

The output, shown below, displays the original string and the cleaned string after removing the leading hash symbol or #.

output for removing first character from string using regex

Example of how to removing first character from the String

Let us present a practical example that will put what we’ve discussed in a real-world context.

Removing the dollar sign from salary data using Python programming

In our scenario, we have salary data in a CSV file, and the task is to remove the dollar sign ($) from each salary entry.

This hands-on application will help demonstrate how to remove the first character of a string within a tangible programming scenario.

The original file,salaries.csv, looks like what we get in the screenshot below:

Remove first character from string in Python salaries.csv input file containing dollar symbols to be cleaned from salary column

Observe how the code below removes all the dollar symbols that are the very first character from our data:

import csv
import re

# Input and output file names
input_file = "salaries.csv"
output_file = "cleaned_salaries.csv"

# Define a regex pattern to match the leading dollar sign
pattern = re.compile(r'^\$')

# Open the input and output files
with open(input_file, 'r') as csvfile, open(output_file, 'w', newline='') as cleanedfile:
csvreader = csv.reader(csvfile)
csvwriter = csv.writer(cleanedfile)

# Write the header
header = next(csvreader)

# Process and write the data using regular expressions
for row in csvreader:
name, salary = row
cleaned_salary = pattern.sub('', salary) # Remove the leading dollar sign using regex
csvwriter.writerow([name, cleaned_salary])

print("Dollar signs removed using regular expressions. Cleaned data saved to", output_file)

This Python script utilizes the csv and re modules to clean salary data stored in a CSV file.

The regular expression r'^\$' is employed to match and remove leading dollar signs from salary entries. The script opens the input file ("salaries.csv") and creates a new output file ("cleaned_salaries.csv").

It iterates through each row, applying the regular expression to remove dollar signs from the salary values. The cleaned data, including names and modified salaries, is then written to the output CSV file.

Below are the contents of cleaned_salaries.csv:

Conte ts of cleaned_salaries.csv with no dollar symbols in the salary field


In conclusion, the two methods we’ve examined, string slicing and regular expressions, both offer a straightforward way to remove first character from string.

String slicing, demonstrated through Python’s built-in capabilities, removes the first character by selecting the remaining part of the string.

On the other hand, the regular expression technique accomplished the same by carrying out string rewriting, as we saw in our example of eliminating leading hash symbols.

In a practical scenario involving salary data in a CSV file, we applied regular expressions to successfully remove dollar signs, emphasizing the real-world applicability of these techniques.

We also have other interesting Pyhton coding tutorials. Check these out in our beginner-friendly tutorials or get a tutor for Python.