I have to take a large list of words in the form:

['this\n', 'is\n', 'a\n', 'list\n', 'of\n', 'words\n']

and then using the strip function, turn it into:

['this', 'is', 'a', 'list', 'of', 'words']

I thought that what I had written would work, but I keep getting an error saying:

“‘list’ object has no attribute ‘strip'”

Here is the code that I tried:

strip_list = []
for lengths in range(1,20):
    strip_list.append(0) #longest word in the text file is 20 characters long
for a in lines:
    strip_list.append(lines[a].strip())

You can either use a list comprehension

my_list = ['this\n', 'is\n', 'a\n', 'list\n', 'of\n', 'words\n']
stripped = [s.strip() for s in my_list]

or alternatively use map():

stripped = list(map(str.strip, my_list))

In Python 2, map() directly returned a list, so you didn’t need the call to list. In Python 3, the list comprehension is more concise and generally considered more idiomatic.

list comprehension?
[x.strip() for x in lst]

You can use lists comprehensions:

strip_list = [item.strip() for item in lines]

Or the map function:

# with a lambda
strip_list = map(lambda it: it.strip(), lines)

# without a lambda
strip_list = map(str.strip, lines)

This can be done using list comprehensions as defined in PEP 202

[w.strip() for w in  ['this\n', 'is\n', 'a\n', 'list\n', 'of\n', 'words\n']]

All other answers, and mainly about list comprehension, are great. But just to explain your error:

strip_list = []
for lengths in range(1,20):
    strip_list.append(0) #longest word in the text file is 20 characters long
for a in lines:
    strip_list.append(lines[a].strip())

a is a member of your list, not an index. What you could write is this:

[...]
for a in lines:
    strip_list.append(a.strip())

Another important comment: you can create an empty list this way:

strip_list = [0] * 20

But this is not so useful, as .append appends stuff to your list. In your case, it’s not useful to create a list with defaut values, as you’ll build it item per item when appending stripped strings.

So your code should be like:

strip_list = []
for a in lines:
    strip_list.append(a.strip())

But, for sure, the best one is this one, as this is exactly the same thing:

stripped = [line.strip() for line in lines]

In case you have something more complicated than just a .strip, put this in a function, and do the same. That’s the most readable way to work with lists.

If you need to remove just trailing whitespace, you could use str.rstrip(), which should be slightly more efficient than str.strip():

>>> lst = ['this\n', 'is\n', 'a\n', 'list\n', 'of\n', 'words\n']
>>> [x.rstrip() for x in lst]
['this', 'is', 'a', 'list', 'of', 'words']
>>> list(map(str.rstrip, lst))
['this', 'is', 'a', 'list', 'of', 'words']

my_list = ['this\n', 'is\n', 'a\n', 'list\n', 'of\n', 'words\n']
print([l.strip() for l in my_list])

Output:

['this', 'is', 'a', 'list', 'of', 'words']