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Indentation in Python

Last Updated on March 21, 2023 by Prepbytes

The spaces at the beginning of a code line are referred to as indentation. Whereas indentation in code is only for readability in other programming languages, it is critical in Python. Python employs indentation to denote a block of code. Indentation is an important concept in the Python programming language that is used to group statements that belong to the same block of code. In Python, a block of code is a group of statements that are executed together as a unit. Indentation in python is used to define the beginning and end of these blocks.

What is Indentation in Python?

In Python, indentation is the leading whitespace (spaces or/and tabs) before any statement. The importance of indentation in Python stems from the fact that it serves a purpose other than code readability. Python treats statements with the same indentation level (statements preceded by the same number of whitespaces) as a single code block. So, whereas in languages such as C, C++, and others, a block of code is represented by curly braces, a block in Python is a group of statements with the same Indentation level, i.e. the same number of leading whitespaces.

Rules of Indentation in Python

Here are the rules of indentation in python:

  • Python’s default indentation spaces are four spaces. The number of spaces, however, is entirely up to the user. However, a minimum of one space is required to indent a statement.
  • Indentation is not permitted on the first line of Python code.
  • Python requires indentation to define statement blocks.
  • A block of code must have a consistent number of spaces.
  • To indent in Python, whitespaces are preferred over tabs. Also, use either whitespace or tabs to indent; mixing tabs and whitespaces in indentation can result in incorrect indentation errors.

Example of Indentation in Python

Here are examples of indentation in python

Example 1
Below we have code implementation and explanation

# your code goes here

# Python program showing
# indentation

site = 'prepbytes'

if site == 'prepbytes':
    print('Logging on to prepbytes...')
    print('retype the URL.')
print('All set !')


Logging on to prepbytes...
All set !

In the above python program, we have Print(‘Logging on to prepbytes…’) and print(‘retype the URL.’) are two distinct code blocks. In our example, if-statement, the two blocks of code are both indented four spaces. Because the final print (‘All set!’) is not indented, it is not part of the else block.

Example 2
Below we have code implementation and explanation

# your code goes here

j = 1

while(j<= 5):
    j = j + 1



Explanation: In Python, you must indent each line of code by the same amount of whitespace to indicate a block of code. The while loop’s two lines of code are both indented four spaces. It is required to indicate which code block a statement belongs to. For instance, j=1 and while(j=5): are not indented and thus do not fall within the Python while block. Indentation is used to structure Python code.

Advantages of Indentation in Python

Here are some advantages of indentation in python:

  • Improved Readability: Indentation makes the code more readable by clearly indicating which statements belong to which block of code. This makes it easier for other developers to understand your code and makes it more maintainable.
  • Consistency: By requiring consistent indentation levels, Python ensures that the code follows a consistent style, making it easier to read and understand.
  • Reduced Syntax: Python’s use of indentation reduces the amount of syntax required to define blocks of code. This makes Python code shorter and easier to read than code written in other languages.
  • Reduced Errors: By requiring consistent indentation levels, Python reduces the likelihood of indentation-related errors that can occur in other languages. This improves code quality and reduces the time required for debugging.
  • Increased Efficiency: Python’s use of indentation simplifies the coding process and allows developers to write code faster and with fewer errors.

Disadvantages of Indentation in Python

Here are some disadvantages of indentation in python:

  • Limited Flexibility: Python’s use of indentation can limit the flexibility of code formatting, as all code blocks must follow a consistent indentation level. This can be problematic in certain situations where code formatting needs to be adjusted for different environments or requirements.
  • Difficulties with Copy and Paste: If code is copied and pasted from one editor to another, the indentation levels may not be preserved. This can lead to errors in the code and make it more difficult to debug.
  • Increased Learning Curve: The requirement for consistent indentation levels can increase the learning curve for new Python programmers. This can make it more difficult to get started with Python, especially for those who are used to other programming languages that use different syntax to define blocks of code.
  • Maintenance Issues: In some cases, changes to the indentation levels can have unintended consequences that may be difficult to diagnose and fix. This can make maintenance more difficult and time-consuming.

We can conclude that indentation in python is a fundamental concept for any new python programming and understanding. Python requires indentation to define blocks of statements. In Python, whitespaces are preferred over tabs for indentation. Python’s default indentation space is four spaces. The advantages of indentation in python are Improved readability, Reduce syntax, Reduce errors and increased efficiency disadvantages of indentation in python are limited flexibility,diffculities in copy-paste, and maintenance issues.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Here are some FAQs on an indentation in python

Q1. Why is indentation important in Python?
A: Indentation is important in Python because it determines the scope and hierarchy of the code. It is used to group statements together in a block, which is executed as a unit. Incorrect indentation can lead to syntax errors, logical errors, or unexpected results.

Q2. How is an indentation in Python different from other programming languages?
A: In most programming languages, blocks of code are delimited by curly braces, parentheses, or keywords like "begin" and "end". In Python, indentation is used instead, which makes the code more readable and easier to follow. It also enforces a consistent coding style, which is important for collaborative coding.

Q3. What is the standard indentation size in Python?
A: The standard indentation size in Python is four spaces. This is the convention used in the official Python documentation and is recommended by the PEP 8 style guide.

Q4. Can I use tabs instead of spaces for indentation in Python?
A: Yes, you can use tabs instead of spaces for indentation in Python, but it is not recommended. The PEP 8 style guide recommends using four spaces for consistency and readability. If you use tabs, make sure to be consistent throughout the code.

Q5. What should I do if I get an indentation error in Python?
A: If you get an indentation error in Python, check the indentation of the line that is causing the error. Make sure that it is aligned with the rest of the block and that you are using either spaces or tabs consistently. You can also use an editor that highlights indentation to help you spot errors.

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