Convert list of dictionaries to a pandas DataFrame Convert list of dictionaries to a pandas DataFrame python python

Convert list of dictionaries to a pandas DataFrame

Supposing d is your list of dicts, simply:

df = pd.DataFrame(d)

Note: this does not work with nested data.

How do I convert a list of dictionaries to a pandas DataFrame?

The other answers are correct, but not much has been explained in terms of advantages and limitations of these methods. The aim of this post will be to show examples of these methods under different situations, discuss when to use (and when not to use), and suggest alternatives.

DataFrame(), DataFrame.from_records(), and .from_dict()

Depending on the structure and format of your data, there are situations where either all three methods work, or some work better than others, or some don't work at all.

Consider a very contrived example.

np.random.seed(0)data = pd.DataFrame(    np.random.choice(10, (3, 4)), columns=list('ABCD')).to_dict('r')print(data)[{'A': 5, 'B': 0, 'C': 3, 'D': 3}, {'A': 7, 'B': 9, 'C': 3, 'D': 5}, {'A': 2, 'B': 4, 'C': 7, 'D': 6}]

This list consists of "records" with every keys present. This is the simplest case you could encounter.

# The following methods all produce the same output.pd.DataFrame(data)pd.DataFrame.from_dict(data)pd.DataFrame.from_records(data)   A  B  C  D0  5  0  3  31  7  9  3  52  2  4  7  6

Word on Dictionary Orientations: orient='index'/'columns'

Before continuing, it is important to make the distinction between the different types of dictionary orientations, and support with pandas. There are two primary types: "columns", and "index".

Dictionaries with the "columns" orientation will have their keys correspond to columns in the equivalent DataFrame.

For example, data above is in the "columns" orient.

data_c = [ {'A': 5, 'B': 0, 'C': 3, 'D': 3}, {'A': 7, 'B': 9, 'C': 3, 'D': 5}, {'A': 2, 'B': 4, 'C': 7, 'D': 6}]
pd.DataFrame.from_dict(data_c, orient='columns')   A  B  C  D0  5  0  3  31  7  9  3  52  2  4  7  6

Note: If you are using pd.DataFrame.from_records, the orientation is assumed to be "columns" (you cannot specify otherwise), and the dictionaries will be loaded accordingly.

With this orient, keys are assumed to correspond to index values. This kind of data is best suited for pd.DataFrame.from_dict.

data_i ={ 0: {'A': 5, 'B': 0, 'C': 3, 'D': 3}, 1: {'A': 7, 'B': 9, 'C': 3, 'D': 5}, 2: {'A': 2, 'B': 4, 'C': 7, 'D': 6}}
pd.DataFrame.from_dict(data_i, orient='index')   A  B  C  D0  5  0  3  31  7  9  3  52  2  4  7  6

This case is not considered in the OP, but is still useful to know.

Setting Custom Index

If you need a custom index on the resultant DataFrame, you can set it using the index=... argument.

pd.DataFrame(data, index=['a', 'b', 'c'])# pd.DataFrame.from_records(data, index=['a', 'b', 'c'])   A  B  C  Da  5  0  3  3b  7  9  3  5c  2  4  7  6

This is not supported by pd.DataFrame.from_dict.

Dealing with Missing Keys/Columns

All methods work out-of-the-box when handling dictionaries with missing keys/column values. For example,

data2 = [     {'A': 5, 'C': 3, 'D': 3},     {'A': 7, 'B': 9, 'F': 5},     {'B': 4, 'C': 7, 'E': 6}]
# The methods below all produce the same output.pd.DataFrame(data2)pd.DataFrame.from_dict(data2)pd.DataFrame.from_records(data2)     A    B    C    D    E    F0  5.0  NaN  3.0  3.0  NaN  NaN1  7.0  9.0  NaN  NaN  NaN  5.02  NaN  4.0  7.0  NaN  6.0  NaN

Reading Subset of Columns

"What if I don't want to read in every single column"? You can easily specify this using the columns=... parameter.

For example, from the example dictionary of data2 above, if you wanted to read only columns "A', 'D', and 'F', you can do so by passing a list:

pd.DataFrame(data2, columns=['A', 'D', 'F'])# pd.DataFrame.from_records(data2, columns=['A', 'D', 'F'])     A    D    F0  5.0  3.0  NaN1  7.0  NaN  5.02  NaN  NaN  NaN

This is not supported by pd.DataFrame.from_dict with the default orient "columns".

pd.DataFrame.from_dict(data2, orient='columns', columns=['A', 'B'])
ValueError: cannot use columns parameter with orient='columns'

Reading Subset of Rows

Not supported by any of these methods directly. You will have to iterate over your data and perform a reverse delete in-place as you iterate. For example, to extract only the 0th and 2nd rows from data2 above, you can use:

rows_to_select = {0, 2}for i in reversed(range(len(data2))):    if i not in rows_to_select:        del data2[i]pd.DataFrame(data2)# pd.DataFrame.from_dict(data2)# pd.DataFrame.from_records(data2)     A    B  C    D    E0  5.0  NaN  3  3.0  NaN1  NaN  4.0  7  NaN  6.0

The Panacea: json_normalize for Nested Data

A strong, robust alternative to the methods outlined above is the json_normalize function which works with lists of dictionaries (records), and in addition can also handle nested dictionaries.

pd.json_normalize(data)   A  B  C  D0  5  0  3  31  7  9  3  52  2  4  7  6
pd.json_normalize(data2)     A    B  C    D    E0  5.0  NaN  3  3.0  NaN1  NaN  4.0  7  NaN  6.0

Again, keep in mind that the data passed to json_normalize needs to be in the list-of-dictionaries (records) format.

As mentioned, json_normalize can also handle nested dictionaries. Here's an example taken from the documentation.

data_nested = [  {'counties': [{'name': 'Dade', 'population': 12345},                {'name': 'Broward', 'population': 40000},                {'name': 'Palm Beach', 'population': 60000}],   'info': {'governor': 'Rick Scott'},   'shortname': 'FL',   'state': 'Florida'},  {'counties': [{'name': 'Summit', 'population': 1234},                {'name': 'Cuyahoga', 'population': 1337}],   'info': {'governor': 'John Kasich'},   'shortname': 'OH',   'state': 'Ohio'}]
pd.json_normalize(data_nested,                           record_path='counties',                           meta=['state', 'shortname', ['info', 'governor']])         name  population    state shortname info.governor0        Dade       12345  Florida        FL    Rick Scott1     Broward       40000  Florida        FL    Rick Scott2  Palm Beach       60000  Florida        FL    Rick Scott3      Summit        1234     Ohio        OH   John Kasich4    Cuyahoga        1337     Ohio        OH   John Kasich

For more information on the meta and record_path arguments, check out the documentation.


Here's a table of all the methods discussed above, along with supported features/functionality.

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* Use orient='columns' and then transpose to get the same effect as orient='index'.

In pandas 16.2, I had to do pd.DataFrame.from_records(d) to get this to work.