styler – A non-invasive source code formatter for R

[This article was first published on Posts on Lorenz Walthert, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers]. (You can report issue about the content on this page here)
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

I am pleased to announce that the R package styler, which I have worked on through Google Summer of Code 2017 with Kirill Müller and Yihui Xie, has reached a mature stage.

You can now install it from CRAN


If your CRAN mirror does not yet have it, you can get it from GitHub with remotes::install_github("r-lib/styler").

The package formats R code, by default according to the tidyverse style guide. The distinguishing feature of styler is its flexibility. We will introduce some of the options below. Before I continue, I want to thank my two mentors from Google Summer of Code, in particular Kirill Müller, who was an amazing companion during the three months of coding – and beyond. I feel really blessed how everything came about. In addition, I would like to thank Google for organizing GSOC this year and facilitating the involvement of students in open source projects.

Back to the package: styler can style text, single files, packages and entire R source trees with the following functions:

  • style_text() styles a character vector.
  • style_file() styles R and Rmd files.
  • style_dir() styles all R and/or Rmd files in a directory.
  • style_pkg() styles the source files of an R package.
  • An RStudio Addin that styles the active file R or Rmd file, the current package or the highlighted code.

Styling options

We can limit ourselves to styling just spacing information by indicating this with the scope argument:

style_text("a=3; 2", scope = "spaces")
a = 3; 2

If you are reading this post on r-bloggers, there might be issues with displaying code and rendered output correctly. You can continue reading on the page this post was published initially.

Or, on the other extreme of the scale, styling spaces, indention, line breaks and tokens:

style_text("a=3; 2", scope = "tokens")
a <- 3

Another option that is helpful to determine the level of ‘invasiveness’ is strict. If set to TRUE, spaces and line breaks before or after tokens are set to either zero or one. However, in some situations this might be undesirable (so we set strict = FALSE), as the following example shows:

     small  = 2 ,
     medium = 4,#comment without space
     large  =6
   )", strict = FALSE
  small  = 2,
  medium = 4, # comment without space
  large  = 6

We prefer to keep the equal sign after “small”, “medium” and large aligned, so we set strict = FALSE to set spacing to at least one around =.

Though simple, hopefully the above examples convey some of the flexibility of the configuration options available in styler. You can find out more about options available with the tidyverse style by checking out the help file for style_tidyverse().

Customizing styler - implementing your own style guide

Not only can you customize styler with the options of tidyverse_style(). The real flexibility of styler is supporting third-party style guides. Technically speaking, a style guide such as tidyverse_style() is nothing but a set of transformer functions and options. How you can create your own style guide is explained in this vignette.


I hope I have convinced you that you should give styler a try. If you find unexpected behavior, you are welcome to file an issue on GitHub.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: Posts on Lorenz Walthert. offers daily e-mail updates about R news and tutorials about learning R and many other topics. Click here if you're looking to post or find an R/data-science job.
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

Never miss an update!
Subscribe to R-bloggers to receive
e-mails with the latest R posts.
(You will not see this message again.)

Click here to close (This popup will not appear again)