How to Use Help in Python: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you a beginner in Python programming? Do you need help in using the help function in Python? Then, you have come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss how to use help in Python. Help function is a built-in Python function that helps programmers to get information about a specific function, module, or package. It provides documentation and usage examples that can help you understand how to use a particular function or module. So, let’s get started and explore the world of Python help function.

Table of Contents

What is Help in Python?

Help function is a built-in Python function that provides documentation and usage examples for various Python objects like functions, modules, and packages. It is a useful tool for beginners who are not familiar with Python functions and syntax. The help function displays information about the object that you pass as an argument. For example, if you pass a function name as an argument, it displays the function’s documentation and usage examples. Similarly, if you pass a module or package name, it displays the package or module’s documentation.

How to Use Help in Python?

Using help in Python is straightforward. You can use the help function in two ways: interactive help and documentation strings. Let’s discuss both of them in detail.

Interactive Help

Interactive help is a useful feature that allows you to get help on Python objects while you are working in the Python interpreter. To get interactive help, you need to type help() in the Python interpreter. This will start the interactive help mode, which provides you with a prompt where you can type the name of the Python object that you want to get help on.

Here is an example to help you understand how to use interactive help:

>>> help()
Welcome to Python 3.9's help utility!

If this is your first time using Python, you should definitely check out
the tutorial on the Internet at https://docs.python.org/3.9/tutorial/.

Enter the name of any module, keyword, or topic to get help on writing
Python code and using Python modules.  To quit this help utility and
return to the interpreter, just type "quit".

To get a list of available modules, keywords, or topics, type "modules",
"keywords", or "topics".  Each module also comes with a one-line summary
of what it does; to list the modules whose summaries contain a given word
such as "spam", type "modules spam".

help>

As you can see, the help function starts by displaying a welcome message and provides you with a prompt where you can enter your query. You can enter the name of a Python object like a function, module, or package, and it will display the documentation and usage examples for that object.

For example, if you want to get help on the print function, you can enter the following command:

help> print

This will display the documentation and usage examples for the print function.

Documentation Strings

Documentation strings are also known as docstrings. They are used to provide documentation for Python objects like functions, classes, and modules. Python docstrings are enclosed in triple quotes (""") and are usually the first statement of a function or module.

Here is an example of a function with a docstring:

def add_numbers(a, b):
    """
    This function adds two numbers.
    """
    return a + b

To get help on this function, you can use the help function as follows:

help(add_numbers)

This will display the docstring for the add_numbers function.

Using Help with Modules and Packages

When working with modules and packages, you can use the help function to get information about their contents. For example, if you want to get help on the math module, you can enter the following command:

import math
help(math)

This will display the documentation and contents of the math module.

Similarly, if you want to get help on a package, you can use the help function to get information about its contents. For example, if you want to get help on the numpy package, you can enter the following command:

import numpy
help(numpy)

This will display the documentation and contents of the numpy package.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the help function is an essential tool for any Python programmer. It provides documentation and usage examples for various Python objects like functions, modules, and packages. Using the help function is straightforward, and it can help you understand how to use a particular function or module. We hope this comprehensive guide has helped you understand how to use the help function in Python. Happy coding!

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