Style Guide

These are a few rules and guidelines to make your Python code more readable.


  • Use 4 spaces per indentation level.
  • Never mix tabs and spaces.


  • Indent with spaces only.
  • Configure your code editor to always replace tabs with spaces as you type.

Blank Lines

  • Separate top-level function and class definitions with two blank lines.
  • Method definitions inside a class are separated by a single blank line.
  • Extra blank lines may be used (sparingly) to separate groups of related functions.
  • Use blank lines in functions, sparingly, to indicate logical sections.


Avoid extraneous whitespace in the following situations:

Immediately inside parentheses, brackets or braces.:

Yes: spam(ham[1], {eggs: 2})
No:  spam( ham[ 1 ], { eggs: 2 } )

Immediately before a comma, semicolon, or colon:

Yes: if x == 4: print x, y; x, y = y, x
No:  if x == 4 : print x , y ; x , y = y , x

Immediately before the open parenthesis that starts the argument list of a function call:

Yes: spam(1)
No:  spam (1)

Immediately before the open parenthesis that starts an indexing or slicing:

Yes: dict['key'] = list[index]
No:  dict ['key'] = list [index]

More than one space around an assignment (or other) operator to align it with another.


x = 1
y = 2
long_variable = 3


x             = 1
y             = 2
long_variable = 3

Always surround these binary operators with a single space on either side:

  • assignment (=)
  • augmented assignment (+=, -= etc.)
  • comparisons (==, <, >, !=, <>, <=, >=, in, not in, is, is not)
  • Booleans (and, or, not)

If operators with different priorities are used, consider adding whitespace around the operators with the lowest priority(ies).


i = i + 1
submitted += 1
x = x*2 - 1
hypot2 = x*x + y*y
c = (a+b) * (a-b)


submitted +=1
x = x * 2 - 1
hypot2 = x * x + y * y
c = (a + b) * (a - b)

Don’t use spaces around the = sign when used to indicate a keyword argument or a default parameter value.


def complex(real, imag=0.0):
    return magic(r=real, i=imag)


def complex(real, imag = 0.0):
    return magic(r = real, i = imag)

Compound statements (multiple statements on the same line) are generally discouraged.


if foo == 'blah':

Rather not:

if foo == 'blah': do_blah_thing()
do_one(); do_two(); do_three()


Comments should complement the code, making it easier to understand. Don’t write redudant comments. Good, readable code requires few comments.

Comments should be complete sentences: its first word should be capitalized and it should end with a period.

If a comment is short, the period at the end can be omitted.

Python coders from non-English speaking countries should make an effort to write comments in English.

Block comments

Block comments consist of one or more paragraphs built out of complete sentences, and each sentence should end in a period. You should use two spaces after a sentence-ending period.

Block comments apply to the code that follows them, and are indented to the same level as that code. Each line of a block comment starts with a # and a single space.

Paragraphs inside a block comment are separated by a line containing a single #.

Inline Comments

An inline comment is a comment on the same line as a statement. Inline comments should be separated by at least two spaces from the statement. They should start with a # and a single space.

Use inline comments sparingly: they are unnecessary and distracting if they state the obvious.

Don’t do this:

x = x + 1 # Increment x

But sometimes, this is useful:

x = x + 1 # Compensate for border

Documentation strings

A docstring is a string literal that occurs as the first statement in a module, function, class, or method definition. Such a docstring becomes the __doc__ special attribute of that object.

source: PEP 257

For consistency, always use """triple double quotes""" around docstrings.

There are two forms of docstrings: one-liners and multi-line docstrings.

One-line docstrings

The docstring is a phrase ending in a period.

It prescribes the function or method’s effect as a command (“Do this”, “Return that”), not as a description; e.g. don’t write “Returns the pathname ...”.:

def kos_root():
    """Return the pathname of the KOS root directory."""
    global _kos_root
    if _kos_root: return _kos_root

Multi-line docstrings

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.:

def complex(real=0.0, imag=0.0):
    """Form a complex number.

    Keyword arguments:
    real -- the real part (default 0.0)
    imag -- the imaginary part (default 0.0)

    if imag == 0.0 and real == 0.0: return complex_zero