Adventures in Machine Learning

Mastering Pandas: Retrieve Column Names by Index Positions

Are you new to data analysis and struggling to retrieve the column names of a DataFrame in Pandas by their index positions? Fear not, as we have got you covered with this informative article.

Pandas is a popular data manipulation library in Python that provides a multitude of functions and methods to work with tabular data. One of these tasks is retrieving column names by their index position – a skill that you will find essential in cases where you want to access a particular column, but you do not know its name.

In this article, we will explore two methods to get column names by index position in Pandas, ranging from retrieving a single column’s name to getting names for multiple columns, and more importantly, we will offer easy-to-follow examples to illustrate each of these methods. Method 1: Get One Column Name by Index Position

The first method to get a column name by its index position entails calling up the `DataFrame.columns` attribute and using integer indexing to specify the index position of the desired column.

Here is some code to help you understand better:


import pandas as pd

df = pd.read_csv(‘sales.csv’)

desired_column_index = 2

column_name = df.columns[desired_column_index]



In the preceding example, we used Pandas’ `read_csv` function to create a DataFrame from a CSV file named ‘sales.csv’. The second line initializes the `desired_column_index` variable to store the zero-based index position of the column we would like to retrieve the name.

Finally, we retrieve the name of the desired column using the DataFrame.columns attribute and integer indexing. The resulting output is the name of the column in the desired index position.

Method 2: Get Multiple Column Names by Index Positions

In some cases, one column may not be sufficient, and you may find that you need more than one column’s name based on their index position. We can employ a similar approach to method one to obtain multiple column names using integer indexing with a list or a numpy array.

The code below demonstrates this concept:


import pandas as pd

import numpy as np

df = pd.read_csv(‘sales.csv’)

desired_column_indices = [1, 3, 5]

column_names = [df.columns[i] for i in desired_column_indices]



In the preceding example, we initialized the `desired_column_indices` variable to hold a list of the desired index positions. We then used list comprehension, iterate over each index in the list, retrieve the corresponding column’s name using integer index and append it to the `column_names` list.

The resulting output gives us a list of the desired column names corresponding to their index positions.


The ability to retrieve column names by index positions is an essential skill for any data analyst. This article presented two critical methods to help you get column names by index positions with ease.

Employ these methods, and you will find that obtaining column names by index position is a remarkably easy task. Example 2: Get Multiple Column Names by Index Positions

In Example 1, we learned how to get the column name of a single column by its index position in a Pandas DataFrame.

This type of operation can be complicated when trying to retrieve the names of multiple columns that are not necessarily adjacent. In situations like these, it is best to use the `.iloc` method to get the desired result.

Here’s an example to get you started:


import pandas as pd

df = pd.read_csv(‘sales.csv’)

desired_columns_indices = [1, 3, 5]

column_names = df.iloc[:, desired_columns_indices].columns.tolist()



In the above example, we have initialized the ‘desired_columns_indices’ variable that holds a list of the index positions of the desired columns whose names need to be extracted. We use `.iloc` to select the columns based on the specified index positions.

The first argument of `.iloc` (i.e., `df.iloc[:, desired_columns_indices]`) specifies that we want to select all the rows (`:`) of the DataFrame but only columns with desired index positions captured in the list. The second argument, `columns.tolist()`, returns a list of the column names of the selected columns.

Using `.iloc` significantly simplifies the process of retrieving multiple column names by their index positions from a DataFrame.

Additional Resources

Pandas is a powerful data manipulation tool and offers an array of built-in functions to perform common tasks when analyzing and cleaning data. If you’re interested in learning more about Pandas and common tasks in data analysis, some great resources to consider are:


Pandas Documentation: The official Pandas documentation offers a wealth of information, including tutorials, examples, and detailed explanations of the different functions. 2.

Kaggle Tutorials: Kaggle offers several tutorials on Pandas, from beginner-level introductions to more advanced concepts. 3.

DataCamp: DataCamp is an interactive online learning platform that offers several Pandas courses, ranging from introductory to advanced levels. 4.

Real Python: Real Python is a website that offers several Python tutorials on a variety of topics, including Pandas and data analysis, with examples and step-by-step explanations. These resources are crucial in helping you master the timeless art of data analysis and understand different Pandas functions to handle complex data manipulation.

In summary, retrieving column names by their index positions is a fundamental skill in Pandas. We explored two critical methods for obtaining column names in a Pandas DataFrame- by their index position, either singularly or multiple.

The Pandas library is an integral part of data analysis, and learning different methods in data manipulation is essential in analyzing complex datasets. As a beginner in data analysis, try to explore the Pandas documentation, Kaggle, Datacamp, and Real Python for different tutorials to get up to speed.

Remember to always choose the method that suits your needs based on your datasets, and in no time, you’ll become a pro in Pandas.