List assignment index out of range: Python indexerror solution you should know

An IndexError is nothing to worry about. In this article, we’re going to give you the Python indexerror solution to list assignment index out of range. We will also walk through an example to help you see exactly what causes this error.
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list assignment index out of range

The Problem: indexerror: list assignment index out of range

When you receive an error message, the first thing you should do is read it. Because, an error message can tell you a lot about the nature of an error.

indexer message is: 

indexerror: list assignment index out of range.

To clarify, IndexError tells us that there is a problem with how we are accessing an index. An index is a value inside an iterable object, such as a list or a string. Then, the message “list assignment index out of range” tells us that we are trying to assign an item to an index that does not exist.

In order to use indexing on a list, you need to initialize the list. Moreover, if you try to assign an item into a list at an index position that does not exist, this error will be raised.

An Example Scenario

The list assignment error is commonly raised in for and while loops.

We’re going to write a program that adds all the cakes containing the word “Strawberry” into a new array. Let’s start by declaring two variables:

1 cakes = ["Strawberry Tart", "Chocolate Muffin", "Strawberry Cheesecake"]
2 strawberry = []

To clarify, the first variable stores our list of cakes. The second variable is an empty list that will store all of the strawberry cakes. Then, we’re going to write a loop that checks if each value in “cakes” contains the word “Strawberry”.

1 for c in range(0, len(cakes)):
2    if "Strawberry" in cakes[c]:
3      strawberry[c] = cakes[c]
4
5 print(strawberry)

If a value contains “Strawberry”, it should be added to our new array. Otherwise, nothing will happen. Once our for loop has executed, the “strawberry” array should be printed to the console. Let’s run our code and see what happens:

1 Traceback (most recent call last):
2    File "main.py", line 6, in <module>
3      strawberry[c] = cakes[c]
4 IndexError: list assignment index out of range

As we expected, an error has been raised. Then, we get to solve it.

The Solution to list assignment index out of range

Our error message tells us the line of code at which our program fails:

1 strawberry[c] = cakes[c]

To clarify, the problem with this code is that we are trying to assign a value inside our “strawberry” list to a position that does not exist.

When we create our strawberry array, it has no values. To clarify, this means that it has no index numbers. The following values do not exist:

1 strawberry[0]
2 strawberry[1]
3 …

We are trying to assign values to these positions in our for loop. Because these positions contain no values, an error is returned. So, we can solve this problem in two ways.

Solution with append()

Firstly, we can add an item to the “strawberry” array using append():

1 cakes = ["Strawberry Tart", "Chocolate Muffin", "Strawberry Cheesecake"]
2 strawberry = []
3
4 for c in range(0, len(cakes)):
5  if "Strawberry" in cakes[c]:
6         strawberry.append(cakes[c])
7
8 print(strawberry)

The append() method adds an item to an array and creates an index position for that item.

Let’s run our code:

[‘Strawberry Tart’, ‘Strawberry Cheesecake’].

The code works!

Solution with Initializing an Array to list assignment index out of range

Alternatively, we can initialize our array with some values when we declare it. Because, Tthis will create the index positions at which we can store values inside our “strawberry” array. Therefore, to initialize an array, you can use this code:

1 strawberry = [] * 10

This will create an array with 10 empty values. Our code now looks like this:

1 cakes = ["Strawberry Tart", "Chocolate Muffin", "Strawberry Cheesecake"]
2 strawberry = [] * 10
3
4 for c in range(0, len(cakes)):
5    if "Strawberry" in cakes[c]:
6      strawberry.append(cakes[c])
7
8 print(strawberry)

Let’s try to run the code:

1 ['Strawberry Tart', 'Strawberry Cheesecake']

The code successfully returns an array with all the strawberry cakes.

This method is best to use when you know exactly how many values you’re going to store in an array.

The above code is somewhat inefficient because we have initialized “strawberry” with 10 empty values. There are only a total of three cakes in our “cakes” array that could possibly contain “Strawberry”.

To sum up with list assignment index out of range

IndexErrors are raised when you try to use an item at an index value that does not exist. The “indexerror: list assignment index out of range” is raised when you try to assign an item to an index position that does not exist.

To solve this error, you can use append() to add an item to a list. You can also initialize a list before you start inserting values to avoid this error. So, now you’re ready to start solving the list assignment error like a professional Python developer.

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