Count frequency of letters in a text file

In python, how can I iterate through a text file and count the number of occurrences of each letter? I realise I could just use a 'for x in file' statement to go through it and then set up 26 or so if elif statements, but surely there is a better way to do it?



Use collections.Counter():

from collections import Counter
with open(file) as f:
    c = Counter()
    for x in f:
        c += Counter(x.strip())

As @mgilson pointed out, in case if the file is not so large,you can simply do :

c = Counter(


>>> c = Counter()
>>> c += Counter('aaabbbcccddd eee fff ggg')
>>> c
Counter({'a': 3, ' ': 3, 'c': 3, 'b': 3, 'e': 3, 'd': 3, 'g': 3, 'f': 3})
>>> c += Counter('aaabbbccc')
Counter({'a': 6, 'c': 6, 'b': 6, ' ': 3, 'e': 3, 'd': 3, 'g': 3, 'f': 3})

or use the count() method of strings:

from string import ascii_lowercase     # ascii_lowercase =='abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz'
with open(file) as f:
    text =
    dic = {}
    for x in ascii_lowercase:
        dic[x] = text.count(x)

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