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Formats docstrings to follow PEP 257.

Project description

Formats docstrings to follow PEP 257.

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docformatter currently automatically formats docstrings to follow a subset of the PEP 257 conventions. Below are the relevant items quoted from PEP 257.

  • For consistency, always use triple double quotes around docstrings.
  • Triple quotes are used even though the string fits on one line.
  • Multi-line docstrings consist of a summary line just like a one-line docstring, followed by a blank line, followed by a more elaborate description.
  • Unless the entire docstring fits on a line, place the closing quotes on a line by themselves.

docformatter also handles some of the PEP 8 conventions.

  • Don’t write string literals that rely on significant trailing whitespace. Such trailing whitespace is visually indistinguishable and some editors (or more recently, will trim them.


From pip:

$ pip install --upgrade docformatter


After running:

$ docformatter --in-place

this code

"""   Here are some examples.

    This module docstring should be dedented."""

def launch_rocket():
rocket. Go colonize space."""

def factorial(x):

    Return x factorial.

    This uses math.factorial.

    import math
    return math.factorial(x)

def print_factorial(x):
    """Print x factorial"""

def main():
    if factorial(10):

gets formatted into this

"""Here are some examples.

This module docstring should be dedented.

def launch_rocket():
    """Launch the rocket.

    Go colonize space.

def factorial(x):
    """Return x factorial.

    This uses math.factorial.
    import math
    return math.factorial(x)

def print_factorial(x):
    """Print x factorial."""

def main():
    """Main function."""
    if factorial(10):


Below is the help output:

usage: docformatter [-h] [-i | -c] [-r] [--wrap-summaries length]
                    [--wrap-descriptions length] [--blank]
                    [--pre-summary-newline] [--make-summary-multi-line]
                    [--force-wrap] [--range line line] [--version]
                    files [files ...]

Formats docstrings to follow PEP 257.

positional arguments:
  files                 files to format or '-' for standard in

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -i, --in-place        make changes to files instead of printing diffs
  -c, --check           only check and report incorrectly formatted files
  -r, --recursive       drill down directories recursively
  -e, --exclude         exclude directories and files by names

  --wrap-summaries length
                        wrap long summary lines at this length; set to 0 to
                        disable wrapping (default: 79)
  --wrap-descriptions length
                        wrap descriptions at this length; set to 0 to disable
                        wrapping (default: 72)
  --blank               add blank line after description
                        add a newline before the summary of a multi-line
                        add a newline before and after the summary of a one-
                        line docstring
  --force-wrap          force descriptions to be wrapped even if it may result
                        in a mess
  --range line line     apply docformatter to docstrings between these lines;
                        line numbers are indexed at 1
  --version             show program's version number and exit

Possible exit codes:

  • 1 - if any error encountered
  • 3 - if any file needs to be formatted (in --check mode)

Wrapping descriptions

docformatter will wrap descriptions, but only in simple cases. If there is text that seems like a bulleted/numbered list, docformatter will leave the description as is:

- Item one.
- Item two.
- Item three.

This prevents the risk of the wrapping turning things into a mess. To force even these instances to get wrapped use --force-wrap.


Git Hook

docformatter is configured for pre-commit and can be set up as a hook with the following .pre-commit-config.yaml configuration:

- repo:
  rev: v1.3.1
    - id: docformatter
      args: [--in-place]

You will need to install pre-commit and run pre-commit install.

You may alternatively use args: [--check] if you prefer the commit to fail instead of letting docformatter format docstrings automatically.


docformatter can be configured as a PyCharm file watcher to automatically format docstrings on saving python files.

Head over to Preferences > Tools > File Watchers, click the + icon and configure docformatter as shown below:

PyCharm file watcher configurations


Bugs and patches can be reported on the GitHub page.

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