Tokenizing Error

Recently, I burned about 3 hours trying to load a large CSV file into Python Pandas using the read_csv function, only to consistently run into the following error:

“Error tokenising data. C error: EOF inside string starting at line”.

There was an erroneous character about 5000 lines into the CSV file that prevented the Pandas CSV parser from reading the entire file. Excel had no problems opening the file, and no amount of saving/re-saving/changing encodings was working. Manually removing the offending line worked, but ultimately, another character 6000 lines further into the file caused the same issue.

The solution was to use the parameter engine=’python’ in the read_csv function call. The Pandas CSV parser can use two different “engines” to parse CSV file – Python or C (default).

engine : {‘c’, ‘python’}, optional

Parser engine to use. The C engine is faster while the python engine is currently more feature-complete.

The Python engine is described as “slower, but more feature complete” in the Pandas documentation. However, in this case, the python engine sorts the problem, without a massive time impact (overall file size was approx 200,000 rows).


The other big problem with reading in CSV files that I come across is the error:

“UnicodeDecodeError: ‘utf-8’ codec can’t decode byte 0x96 in position XX: invalid start byte”

Character encoding issues can be usually fixed by opening the CSV file in Sublime Text, and then “Save with encoding” choosing UTF-8. Then adding the encoding=’utf8′ to the pandas.read_csv command allows Pandas to open the CSV file without trouble. This error appears regularly for me with files saved in Excel.

encoding : str, default None

Encoding to use for UTF when reading/writing (ex. ‘utf-8’). List of Python standard encodings

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