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The uncompromising code formatter.

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Any color you like.

Black is the uncompromising Python code formatter. By using it, you agree to cease control over minutiae of hand-formatting. In return, Black gives you speed, determinism, and freedom from pycodestyle nagging about formatting. You will save time and mental energy for more important matters.

Blackened code looks the same regardless of the project you’re reading. Formatting becomes transparent after a while and you can focus on the content instead.

Black makes code review faster by producing the smallest diffs possible.

NOTE: This is an early pre-release

Black can already successfully format itself and the standard library. It also sports a decent test suite. However, it is still very new. Things will probably be wonky for a while. This is made explicit by the “Alpha” trove classifier, as well as by the “a” in the version number. What this means for you is that until the formatter becomes stable, you should expect some formatting to change in the future.

Also, as a temporary safety measure, Black will check that the reformatted code still produces a valid AST that is equivalent to the original. This slows it down. If you’re feeling confident, use --fast.


Black can be installed by running pip install black.

black [OPTIONS] [SRC]...

  -l, --line-length INTEGER   Where to wrap around.  [default: 88]
  --check                     Don't write back the files, just return the
                              status.  Return code 0 means nothing changed.
                              Return code 1 means some files were reformatted.
                              Return code 123 means there was an internal
  --fast / --safe             If --fast given, skip temporary sanity checks.
                              [default: --safe]
  --version                   Show the version and exit.
  --help                      Show this message and exit.

The philosophy behind Black

Black reformats entire files in place. It is not configurable. It doesn’t take previous formatting into account. It doesn’t reformat blocks that start with # fmt: off and end with # fmt: on. It also recognizes YAPF’s block comments to the same effect, as a courtesy for straddling code.

How Black formats files

Black ignores previous formatting and applies uniform horizontal and vertical whitespace to your code. The rules for horizontal whitespace are pretty obvious and can be summarized as: do whatever makes pycodestyle happy.

As for vertical whitespace, Black tries to render one full expression or simple statement per line. If this fits the allotted line length, great.

# in:
l = [1,

# out:
l = [1, 2, 3]

If not, Black will look at the contents of the first outer matching brackets and put that in a separate indented line.

# in:
l = [[n for n in list_bosses()], [n for n in list_employees()]]

# out:
l = [
    [n for n in list_bosses()], [n for n in list_employees()]

If that still doesn’t fit the bill, it will decompose the internal expression further using the same rule, indenting matching brackets every time. If the contents of the matching brackets pair are comma-separated (like an argument list, or a dict literal, and so on) then Black will first try to keep them on the same line with the matching brackets. If that doesn’t work, it will put all of them in separate lines.

# in:
def very_important_function(template: str, *variables, *, file: os.PathLike, debug: bool = False):
    """Applies `variables` to the `template` and writes to `file`."""
    with open(file, 'w') as f:

# out:
def very_important_function(
    template: str,
    file: os.PathLike,
    debug: bool = False,
    """Applies `variables` to the `template` and writes to `file`."""
    with open(file, 'w') as f:

You might have noticed that closing brackets are always dedented and that a trailing comma is always added. Such formatting produces smaller diffs; when you add or remove an element, it’s always just one line. Also, having the closing bracket dedented provides a clear delimiter between two distinct sections of the code that otherwise share the same indentation level (like the arguments list and the docstring in the example above).

Unnecessary trailing commas are removed if an expression fits in one line. This makes it 1% more likely that your line won’t exceed the allotted line length limit.

Black avoids spurious vertical whitespace. This is in the spirit of PEP 8 which says that in-function vertical whitespace should only be used sparingly. One exception is control flow statements: Black will always emit an extra empty line after return, raise, break, continue, and yield. This is to make changes in control flow more prominent to readers of your code.

That’s it. The rest of the whitespace formatting rules follow PEP 8 and are designed to keep pycodestyle quiet.

Line length

You probably noticed the peculiar default line length. Black defaults to 88 characters per line, which happens to be 10% over 80. This number was found to produce significantly shorter files than sticking with 80 (the most popular), or even 79 (used by the standard library). In general, 90-ish seems like the wise choice.

If you’re paid by the line of code you write, you can pass --line-length with a lower number. Black will try to respect that. However, sometimes it won’t be able to without breaking other rules. In those rare cases, auto-formatted code will exceed your allotted limit.

You can also increase it, but remember that people with sight disabilities find it harder to work with line lengths exceeding 100 characters. It also adversely affects side-by-side diff review on typical screen resolutions. Long lines also make it harder to present code neatly in documentation or talk slides.

If you’re using Flake8, you can bump max-line-length to 88 and forget about it. Alternatively, use Bugbear’s B950 warning instead of E501 and keep the max line length at 80 which you are probably already using. You’d do it like this:

max-line-length = 80
select = C,E,F,W,B,B950
ignore = E501

You’ll find Black’s own .flake8 config file is configured like this. If you’re curious about the reasoning behind B950, Bugbear’s documentation explains it. The tl;dr is “it’s like highway speed limits, we won’t bother you if you overdo it by a few km/h”.

Editor integration

There is currently no integration with any text editors. Vim and Atom/Nuclide integration is planned by the author, others will require external contributions.

Patches welcome! ✨ 🍰 ✨


Dusty Phillips, writer:

Black is opinionated so you don’t have to be.

Hynek Schlawack, creator of ``attrs` <>`__, core developer of Twisted and CPython:

An auto-formatter that doesn’t suck is all I want for Xmas!

Carl Meyer, Django core developer:

At least the name is good.

Kenneth Reitz, creator of `requests <>`__ and `pipenv <>`__:

This vastly improves the formatting of our code. Thanks a ton!


Just run:

python test

This tool requires Python 3.6.0+ to run

But you can reformat Python 2 code with it, too. Black is able to parse all of the new syntax supported on Python 3.6 but also effectively all the Python 2 syntax at the same time, as long as you’re not using print statements.

By making the code exclusively Python 3.6+, I’m able to focus on the quality of the formatting and re-use all the nice features of the new releases (check out pathlib or f-strings) instead of wasting cycles on Unicode compatibility, and so on.




In terms of inspiration, Black is about as configurable as gofmt and rustfmt are. This is deliberate.

Bug reports and fixes are always welcome! However, before you suggest a new feature or configuration knob, ask yourself why you want it. If it enables better integration with some workflow, fixes an inconsistency, speeds things up, and so on - go for it! On the other hand, if your answer is “because I don’t like a particular formatting” then you’re not ready to embrace Black yet. Such changes are unlikely to get accepted. You can still try but prepare to be disappointed.

Change Log


  • added --check

  • only put trailing commas in function signatures and calls if it’s safe to do so. If the file is Python 3.6+ it’s always safe, otherwise only safe if there are no *args or **kwargs used in the signature or call. (#8)

  • fixed invalid spacing of dots in relative imports (#6, #13)

  • fixed invalid splitting after comma on unpacked variables in for-loops (#23)

  • fixed spurious space in parenthesized set expressions (#7)

  • fixed spurious space after opening parentheses and in default arguments (#14, #17)

  • fixed spurious space after unary operators when the operand was a complex expression (#15)


  • first published version, Happy 🍰 Day 2018!

  • alpha quality

  • date-versioned (see:


Glued together by Łukasz Langa.

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