This is an old copy of the Python FAQ. The information here may be outdated.

What are the rules for local and global variables in Python?

In Python, variables that are only referenced inside a function are implicitly global. If a variable is assigned a new value anywhere within the function’s body, it’s assumed to be a local. If a variable is ever assigned a new value inside the function, the variable is implicitly local, and you need to explicitly declare it as global.

Though a bit surprising at first, a moment’s consideration explains this. On one hand, requiring global for assigned variables provides a bar against unintended side-effects. On the other hand, if global was required for all global references, you’d be using global all the time. You’d have to declare as global every reference to a builtin function or to a component of an imported module. This clutter would defeat the usefulness of the global declaration for identifying side-effects.

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