Get Pandas DataFrame Column Headers as a List

Pandas DataFrame columns give context into the values of the rows/entries we're working with. Sometimes, we need to remove them, when saving data for proprietary libraries that don't support columns, and sometimes we just want to export them in a different format.

In any case - saving the columns as a list is useful. Just accessing the columns gives us access to an Index object:

print(type(df.columns)) # <class 'pandas.core.indexes.base.Index'>

While the Index can act like a list, and can most certainly be used to again be inserted into a DataFrame - we can isolate a good old fashioned Python list from it, using the tolist() method:

import pandas as pd
from sklearn.datasets import fetch_california_housing

data = fetch_california_housing(as_frame=True)

names = df.columns.tolist()
print(type(names)) # <class 'list'>
print(names) # ['MedInc', 'HouseAge', 'AveRooms', 'AveBedrms', 'Population', 'AveOccup', 'Latitude', 'Longitude', 'MedHouseVal']
Last Updated: April 12th, 2023
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