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How to use the Python ascii() function

Python Ascii

In this article, we’ll take a look at the Python ascii() function.

The ascii() function returns a string representation of the object but only having ASCII characters as it is.

The remaining non-ASCII characters will be escaped with a backslash (\). For example, the newline character (\n) is a non-ASCII character.

We’ll now look at some examples to understand how it exactly works!

Using the Python ascii() function – Some examples

The Python ascii() function takes a single argument, which can be any object. So all kinds of objects, like lists, strings, etc, are valid. This will return a string.

If you’re using it on a List, or any collection, this function will get called for each member of the collection.

Let’s take a look at this now.

Using Python ascii() on primitive datatypes

For basic datatypes like boolean, string, int, they work as you expect.

i = 15

b = True

s = 'abc'

s = 'Hello from\tAskPython\n'


"'Hello from\\tAskPython\\n'"

As you can see, for the non-ASCII characters (\t, \n), the backslash itself needs to be escaped.

Using ascii() on Iterables/Collections

In case you want to use it on a list/tuple/dictionary, you still can! But, this will simply apply it to every member in the collection/iterable.

So if a list has n elements, we’ll get the function applied to all n of them, and get back a list of strings.

m = ["Hello from AskPython 22", "AskPythön", "Hi"]


['Hello from AskPython 22', 'AskPyth\xf6n', 'Hi']

Similarly, with a Dictionary {key:value}, it’ll be applied to both key and value.

d = {'â':'å', '2':2, 'ç':'ć'}


{'\xe2': '\xe5', '2': 2, '\xe7': '\u0107'}

For a tuple, it is similar to that of a list. All elements will be converted to a string representation of ASCII-like characters.

t = ("Hellö", 123, ["AskPython"])


('Hell\xf6', 123, ['AskPython'])

Comparison with the repr() function

The repr() function is also used to return a string representation of objects. But the difference is that repr() prints the non-ascii characters as such.

For custom objects, the ascii() function internally calls the __repr__() function, but makes sure to escape non-ASCII characters.

Let’s experiment with this, by creating our own object, using a class.

class MyClass:
    def __init__(self, name): = name

Now, let’s create an object and try to invoke ascii() and repr() on it,

my_obj = MyClass("AskPythön")


'<__main__.MyClass object at 0x7f6adcf30940>'
'<__main__.MyClass object at 0x7f6adcf30940>'

We don’t have a repr() function for this class, so the default object definition is used. That’s why you see MyClass object in the output.

To change this, we must overload the __repr__() dunder method ourselves.

class MyClass:
    def __init__(self, name): = name
    def __repr__(self):

Now, when you invoke ascii() or repr(), we can directly get the name attribute!

my_obj = MyClass("AskPythön")



Now, you can clearly see the difference!


In this article, we learned about using the ascii() function in Python and learned to use it on different types of objects.