The following books aim to be definitive references, either by publishing the Python documentation or by writing new reference-style material, and therefore should be useful throughout your Python programming career.

Most of these books will contain short, highly condensed introductions to Python, and if you're an experienced programmer these titles may be all you need. See the list of IntroductoryBooks if you'd prefer a book with more examples and a slower pace.


Python Phrasebook

Essential Code and Commands Python Phrasebook gives you the code phrases you need to quickly and effectively complete your programming projects in Python.

Concise and Accessible Easy to carry and easy to use—lets you ditch all those bulky books for one portable guide.

Flexible and Functional Packed with more than 100 customizable code snippets—so you can readily code functional Python in just about any situation.

Home Page

Review by James Pyles


The Python Language Reference Manual (version 3.2)

This is a printed edition of the official Python language reference manual by Guido van Rossum. For each copy sold $1 will be donated to the Python Software Foundation.

Home Page (includes electronic version)


Python Essential Reference

The fourth edition that cover up to Python 2.6 language features and a variety of new modules added to the standard library; there are 17 pages on Python 3.0.

Note: a 5th edition which updates to Python 3.7 is in development with a hoped for publication date in late 2019.

The comments below apply to the 1st and 2nd editions.

A concise reference for Python 2.1, about as close as you can get to the K&R for Python. The first hundred pages are a complete but very compressed introduction to the language; the rest of the book is reference material on all of the standard library modules.

Home Page

The reviews below are for earlier editions of the book.

Review by Jonathan Corbet Review by Phil Hughes Review by AMK Review by Danny Yee


Python Pocket Reference, 5th Edition

A reference-only book, designed to serve as a companion to both Learning Python and Programming Python. This edition is updated to cover both Python 3.X and 2.X. It is specifically based on 3.4 and 2.7, but is applicable to other releases.

Links: author, publisher.


Python in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition

A concise desktop reference for Python 3/5 and 2.7 (with mention of 3.6 features). Covers the language itself, built-in types and functions, the standard library, and crucial third-party extensions such as Numeric, Tkinter, twisted.internet, Cheetah. Also covers Extending and Embedding Python, with C, Java, and other languages and tools.

Publisher link

The reviews are for earlier editions of the book.

Review by Cameron Laird Review by Danny Yee Reader reviews at amazon.com Publisher's page, with a link to the sample chapter &c Publisher's page for the second edition, with a link to the sample chapter Slashdot discussion


Python 2.1 Bible

Contains detailed descriptions with examples on a number of advanced topics such as networking, threading, XML, Tkinter, wxPython, image processing, embedding, NumPy, win32all, and others. Has a section for introducing Python, but really this is ideal for more advanced users.

Recommended by: MichaelChermside, Todd Mitchell

Note there are other unrelated books that go by some version of the title "Python Bible".


Python 3 Standard Library by Example

The meat of the book is a compendium of articles that were written by Doug over an extended period for the Python 3 Module of the Week website.

Links: author publisher

ReferenceBooks (last edited 2019-12-03 17:00:59 by MatsWichmann)

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