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Working with Lists in Python
Selecting List Elements I

Chris is interviewing candidates for a job. He will call each candidate in order, represented by a Python list:

calls = ['Ali', 'Bob', 'Cam', 'Doug', 'Ellie']

First, he’ll call 'Ali', then 'Bob', etc.

In Python, we call the order of an element in a list its index.

Python lists are zero-indexed. This means that the first element in a list has index 0, rather than 1.

Here are the index numbers for that list:

Element Index
'Ali' 0
'Bob' 1
'Cam' 2
'Doug' 3
'Ellie' 4

In this example, the element with index 2 is 'Cam'.

We can select a single element from a list by using square brackets ([]) and the index of the list item. For example, if we wanted to select the third element from the list, we’d use calls[2]:

>>> print(calls[2]) 'Cam'

Note that when accessing elements of an array, you must use an int as the index. If you use a float, you will get an error. This can be especially tricky when using division. For example print(calls[4/2]) will result in an error, because 4/2 gets evaluated to the float 2.0.

To solve this problem, you can force the result of your division to be an int by using the int() function. int() takes a number and cuts off the decimal point. For example, int(5.9) and int(5.0) will both become 5. Therefore, calls[int(4/2)] will result in the same value as calls[2], whereas calls[4/2] will result in an error.



Use square brackets ([ and ]) to select the element with index 4 from the list employees. Save it to the variable index4.


Use print and len to display how many items are in employees.


Paste the following code into


What happens? Why?


Selecting an element that does not exist produces an IndexError.

In the line of code that you pasted, change 8 to a different number so that you don’t get an IndexError.

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