sorting strings numerically while dealing with missing values

Ian Kelly ian.g.kelly at
Wed Dec 28 15:43:41 EST 2016

On Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 2:14 PM, Larry Martell <larry.martell at> wrote:
> I have a list containing a list of strings that I want to sort
> numerically by one of the fields. I am doing this:
> sorted(rows, key=float(itemgetter(sortby)))

I'm guessing that you left out a lambda here since the key argument
takes a function.

> Which works fine as long as all the sort keys convert to a float.
> Problem is that some are blank or None and those throw an exception.
> How can I handle that case and still sort? I'd want the blank or None
> fields to come out either at the beginning or end of the sorted list
> (not sure what the customer wants for this yet).

def sort_key(sortby, none_first=False):
    def key(row):
            value = float(row[sortby])
        except ValueError:
            value = None
        return ((value is None) != none_first, value)
    return key

sorted(rows, key=sort_key(4, none_first=True))

More information about the Python-list mailing list