I need to be able to walk through many mxds to replace text strings but able to skip a character place. For example, replace:

'area %d'


'area %d - this is some other text'


'area 2'

'area 2 - this is some example text'

'area 3'

'area 3 - this is some example text'

This is what I have so far. It works for replace a specific string but I have not been able to figure out the placeholder variable.

import os
import arcpy

mxd_path = r'C:\Users\username\Desktop\test'

for dirpath, dirnames, filenames in os.walk(mxd_path):
    for filename in filenames:
        fullPath = os.path.join(dirpath, filename)
        basename, extension = os.path.splitext(filename)
        if extension.lower() == ".mxd":
            has_data_source = False
            mxd = arcpy.mapping.MapDocument(fullPath)
            for elm in arcpy.mapping.ListLayoutElements(mxd, 'TEXT_ELEMENT'):
                elm.text = elm.text.replace('area %d',
                                            'area %d - this is some other text')

            del mxd
  • Is it always the same text you're skipping? or in exactly the same position? Please give us more information about what you're skipping and why. Is it always a single character?
    – Midavalo
    Dec 22, 2017 at 16:04
  • It is always in the same position and its always a number. anywhere from 1 to 20. I have to change titles a lot on many mxds andIt would be faster to automate then open each on up.
    – ajd018
    Dec 22, 2017 at 16:14
  • Why not just 'area 1' + ' blablabla'? Or '{0} {1}'.format(areastring, newstring)
    – BERA
    Dec 22, 2017 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


If you are just adding text to the end of an existing string, then just concatenate text onto the end:

elm.text = "{0} - Additional text goes here".format(elm.text)

So Area 1 becomes Area 1 - Additional text goes here

  • This worked great.
    – ajd018
    Dec 22, 2017 at 19:49

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