Extract and Replace Text Matching Multi-line Pattern After Keyword

What You Will Learn

In this tutorial, you will learn how to efficiently extract and replace text that matches a multi-line pattern following a specific keyword using regular expressions in Python. This skill is valuable for tasks involving text manipulation and data extraction.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

When working with textual data in Python, it’s common to encounter situations where you need to extract or modify text based on specific patterns. In this scenario, the focus is on extracting and replacing text that appears after a designated keyword if it adheres to a multi-line pattern. By utilizing the power of regular expressions in Python, we can precisely identify and manipulate such content.

To tackle this challenge, we will employ the re module in Python, which equips us with robust support for handling regular expressions. By crafting a suitable regex pattern, we can pinpoint the desired text that meets our criteria and seamlessly perform extraction or replacement operations.


import re

# Sample text containing multi-line patterns after keyword 'TARGET:'
text = '''
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
This is the line we want to extract.
It may span multiple lines.
Some additional content here.
Nulla facilisi.

# Define the keyword after which we want to extract content
keyword = 'TARGET:'

# Regular expression pattern for extracting text between 'TARGET:' and 'END_TARGET:'
pattern = re.compile(r'{}:(.*?)(?=END_{})'.format(re.escape(keyword), re.escape(keyword)), re.DOTALL)

# Extracting the desired text based on the defined pattern
extracted_text = re.search(pattern, text).group(1).strip()


# Copyright PHD


  • We import the re module for utilizing regular expressions in Python.
  • Define sample text, keyword, and construct a regex pattern using re.compile.
  • The regex pattern captures content between the specified keyword (‘TARGET:’) up until another designated string (‘END_TARGET:’).
  • Using re.search, we locate the first occurrence of our pattern within the given text and retrieve only the matched content (excluding ‘TARGET:’ & ‘END_TARGET:’).
  • Finally, any leading/trailing spaces are removed from our extracted result before displaying it.
    How does (.*?) differ from (.* )?

    (.*?) denotes non-greedy matching attempting to match as few characters as possible whereas (.* ) signifies greedy matching trying to match as many characters as possible.

    Can I modify this code for different keywords?

    Yes, you can alter the value of the keyword variable in the provided code snippet to cater to various scenarios involving alternate keywords.

    Does this code account for cases with no match found?

    If no matches are found based on your search criteria, executing .group(1) would raise an AttributeError. It’s essential to implement error-handling mechanisms accordingly.

    Is there any limitation on what can be included in extracted multi-line patterns?

    There are no specific restrictions regarding what constitutes your targeted multi-line patterns; however, ensure your regex adequately addresses diverse scenarios you anticipate encountering.

    How do I handle situations where multiple occurrences of my keyword exist?

    To effectively manage multiple instances of your specified keyword within larger texts – consider iterating over all matches found instead of solely focusing on initial results when applying these techniques at scale.

    Can I adapt this approach for more complex nested patterns?

    While basic examples have been demonstrated herein – adapting these practices towards intricate nested structures involves refining regex strategies further alongside incorporating advanced parsing methodologies where necessary.


    Mastering regular expressions empowers developers with versatile tools for efficiently manipulating textual data within Python applications. By harnessing these techniques adeptly, developers enhance their capabilities when addressing diverse requirements across projects seamlessly.

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