Tabs versus Spaces in Source Code

Nick Craig-Wood nick at
Wed May 17 13:30:03 CEST 2006

Ant <antroy at> wrote:
>  I think Duncan has hit the nail on the head here really. I totally
>  agree that conceptually using tabs for indentation is better than using
>  spaces.

As a programmer tabs appeal to our sense of neatness in python code.
One tab for each level of indent - very nice.

Back in the last century when I wrote nothing but assembler in a
series of primitive text editors I would have agreed with you.  Tabs
rule!  label TAB opcode TAB arguments TAB ; comment.

> Pragmatically though, you can't tell in an editor where spaces
>  are used and where tabs are used.

Now-a-days when I am writing Python, I just use emacs which indents
perfectly.  I press tab and emacs inserts the correct of indentation.
Most of the time I don't have to press tab at all - emacs knows how
much indentation I need.

I don't actually care whether emacs inserts spaces or tabs (spaces
actually), it works, looks nice and follows PEP 8.  It's a lot less
keystrokes than writing assember too ;-)

If you are writing python using "cat" or "ed" then tabs might matter
again, but for any modern editor with a python mode it really doesn't

>  The following quote sums things up nicely I think:
>  "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in
>  practice there is."


Nick Craig-Wood <nick at> --

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