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Using sqlfmt

Before You Begin

sqlfmt will not always produce the formatted output you might want. It might even break your SQL syntax. It is highly recommended to only run sqlfmt on files in a version control system (like git), so that it is easy for you to revert any changes made by sqlfmt. On your first run, be sure to make a commit before running sqlfmt.

There are certain situations where sqlfmt can be considered to be in Beta, or even more mature than that. Those are:

  1. Using sqlfmt to format select statements for one of the major dialects (PostgresSQL, MySQL, Snowflake, BQ, Redshift).

  2. Using sqlfmt to format a dbt project (which may also include jinja and some minimal DDL/DML, like grants, create function, etc.) for one of the major dialects.

However, there are other use cases where sqlfmt is very much alpha:

  1. Formatting some dialects that deviate from ANSI or Postgres, like T-SQL (SQLServer).

  2. Formatting other DDL (create table, insert, etc.) (sqlfmt attempts to be no-op on these statements as much as possible).

In these domains sqlfmt is nowhere near "feature complete" and caution is highly advised.

sqlfmt is a command-line tool. It works on any posix terminal and on Windows Powershell. If you have used the Python code formatter Black, the sqlfmt commands will look familiar.


The code snippets below are commands that can be typed into your terminal, after installing sqlfmt.

To list commands and options:

sqlfmt --help

If you want to format all .sql and .sql.jinja files in your current working directory (and all nested directories), simply type:

sqlfmt .

You can also supply a path to a one or more files or directories as arguments:

sqlfmt /path/to/my/dir /path/to/a/file.sql

If you don't want to format the files you have on disk, you can run sqlfmt with the --check option. sqlfmt will exit with code 1 if the files on disk are not properly formatted:

sqlfmt --check .
sqlfmt --check path/to/my/dir

If you want to print a diff of changes that sqlfmt would make to format a file (but not update the file on disk), you can use the --diff option. --diff also exits with 1 on changes:

sqlfmt --diff .

sqlfmt can also format code passed through standard input (stdin) by passing - as the files argument. The formatted code will be output to stdout (all other output from sqlfmt is routed to stderr):

echo "select 1" | sqlfmt -