Pandas: How to concatenate strings from multiple columns in a DataFrame

Updated: February 21, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Pandas is a powerful data manipulation tool in Python, widely used in data analysis, data science, and machine learning tasks. The ability to efficiently manipulate and transform data is essential in these fields, and one common operation is concatenating strings from multiple columns in a DataFrame. This tutorial covers various methods to achieve string concatenation, providing examples ranging from basic to advanced use cases.

Introduction to Concatenation in Pandas

The concatenation of strings is combining multiple strings into a single string. In the context of a Pandas DataFrame, it often refers to merging text from different columns into a new, single column. This operation is useful in many scenarios like preparing data for analysis, creating unique identifiers, or simply formatting output.

Basic String Concatenation

To start simply, imagine a DataFrame with columns ‘First Name’ and ‘Last Name’. Our goal is to create a new column ‘Full Name’ by concatenating these two columns.

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
    'First Name': ['John', 'Jane', 'Max'],
    'Last Name': ['Doe', 'Doe', 'Power']

df['Full Name'] = df['First Name'] + ' ' + df['Last Name']

This code will output:

  First Name Last Name  Full Name
0       John       Doe  John Doe
1       Jane       Doe  Jane Doe
2        Max     Power  Max Power

Using the Method

Pandas provides the method for more flexibility and control over string concatenation. This method allows for specifying a separator among other options.

df['Full Name'] = df['First Name']['Last Name'], sep=' ')

This will produce a similar output as before but demonstrates a more controlled method of combining strings.

Dealing with Missing Values

Concatenating strings becomes slightly more complex when dealing with null or missing values since directly combining columns might result in unexpected outcomes or errors. Pandas offers mechanisms to gracefully handle these scenarios.

df['Middle Name'] = pd.Series([None, 'Lee', 'The'])

df['Full Name'] = df[['First Name', 'Middle Name', 'Last Name']].fillna('').agg(' '.join, axis=1).str.strip()

This code snippet demonstrates using .fillna('') to replace null values with empty strings, and then using .agg(' '.join, axis=1) followed by .str.strip() to remove leading and trailing spaces.

Advanced Examples: Applying Functions for Dynamic String Concatenation

Sometimes, the string concatenation logic may need to be more sophisticated, incorporating conditional logic or formatting. For such cases, applying functions to DataFrame rows can be incredibly powerful.

def custom_concat(row):
    return '{} {} {}'.format(row['First Name'], row.get('Middle Name', ''), row['Last Name']).strip()

df['Full Name'] = df.apply(custom_concat, axis=1)

This approach allows for high degrees of customization and can cater to complex concatenation requirements.

Combining with External Data

Another advanced use case involves concatenating strings from multiple DataFrames. This scenario may arise when dealing with data from different sources that need to be merged into a coherent dataset.

additional_info = pd.DataFrame({
    'ID': [1, 2, 3],
    'Nicknames': ['Johnny', 'Janie', 'Maxie']

df = df.merge(additional_info, left_index=True, right_on='ID')

df['Custom Name'] = df.apply(lambda row: '{} aka {}'.format(row['Full Name'], row['Nicknames']), axis=1)

This introduces the option of merging additional information and dynamically creating new strings based on multiple sources of data.


Pandas provides a rich set of tools for string concatenation in DataFrames, from simple ‘+’ operations to complex dynamic expressions using custom functions. Understanding and mastering these techniques can significantly enhance your data manipulation capabilities, making your data analysis tasks more efficient and robust.