pandas.DataFrame.insert() – Inserting a new column at a specific location

Updated: February 19, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Pandas is a highly versatile and widely used library in Python, particularly useful for data manipulation and analysis. In this tutorial, we will explore the use of pandas.DataFrame.insert() method for inserting a new column into a DataFrame at a specified location. By the end of this article, you will understand how to utilize this function effectively with various examples ranging from basic to more advanced use cases.

Getting Started

To begin with, let’s make sure pandas is installed in your environment. You can install it using pip if you haven’t already:

pip install pandas

Once pandas is installed, you’re ready to dive into the examples.

Basic Usage of pandas.DataFrame.insert()

The basic syntax of the insert() method is as follows:

DataFrame.insert(loc, column, value, allow_duplicates=False)

Let’s start with a simple example where we’ll insert a new column into an existing DataFrame:

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
    'A': [1, 2, 3],
    'B': ['a', 'b', 'c']

df.insert(1, 'New_Column', [4, 5, 6])



   A  New_Column  B
0  1           4  a
1  2           5  b
2  3           6  c

In the above example, a new column named 'New_Column' is inserted at index position 1 with the values [4, 5, 6].

Handling Missing Values

Sometimes, instead of providing a full list of values, you might want to insert a column with missing values. This can be efficiently done using pandas:

df.insert(2, 'Missing_Values', pd.NA)


   A  New_Column Missing_Values  B
0  1           4           <NA>  a
1  2           5           <NA>  b
2  3           6           <NA>  c

Here, pd.NA is used to insert a column with missing values at index position 2.

Inserting a Column Based on Other Columns

Next, let’s look at how to insert a new column based on the operations performed on existing columns:

df['Total'] = df['A'] + df['New_Column']

Although this method directly adds the column without using insert(), we then subsequently use insert() to place it in our desired location:

total = df.pop('Total')
df.insert(1, 'Total', total)


   A  Total  New_Column Missing_Values  B
0  1      5           4           <NA>  a
1  2      7           5           <NA>  b
2  3      9           6           <NA>  c

Here, a ‘Total’ column is first created by summing two other columns, then moved to a specified position using insert().

Advanced Use Cases

One advanced feature of pandas is the ability to handle conditional insertions. For instance, you can insert a column based on a condition applied to another column. This functionality is extremely useful for data preprocessing:

condition = df['A'] > 2
df.insert(1, 'Is_Greater_Than_2', condition)


   A  Is_Greater_Than_2  Total  New_Column Missing_Values  B
0  1              False      5           4           <NA>  a
1  2              False      7           5           <NA>  b
2  3               True      9           6           <NA>  c

In this example, a new column 'Is_Greater_Than_2' is added, indicating whether the values in column ‘A’ are greater than 2.

Working with Time Series Data

When dealing with time series data, you may need to insert date/time columns. Pandas offers extensive support for time series data, including convenient methods for inserting datetime columns:

df.insert(3, 'Date', pd.date_range(start='1/1/2020', periods=len(df)))


   A  Is_Greater_Than_2  Total       Date New_Column Missing_Values  B
0  1              False      5 2020-01-01           4           <NA>  a
1  2              False      7 2020-01-02           5           <NA>  b
2  3               True      9 2020-01-03           6           <NA>  c

Here, a date range column is inserted into the DataFrame, which can be very useful for indexing or grouping operations in time series analysis.


The pandas.DataFrame.insert() method is a powerful tool for inserting columns into a DataFrame at specified locations. It offers flexibility in handling various data types, including handling missing values and conditional insertion. Mastering this function can significantly streamline your data preprocessing and manipulation tasks in Python.