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Programming language: Haskell
License: BSD 3-clause "New" or "Revised" License
Tags: Development     Formatting    

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License BSD3 Hackage

Fourmolu is a formatter for Haskell source code. It is a fork of Ormolu, with the intention to continue to merge upstream improvements.

We share all bar one of Ormolu's goals:

  • Using GHC's own parser to avoid parsing problems caused by haskell-src-exts.
  • Let some whitespace be programmable. The layout of the input influences the layout choices in the output. This means that the choices between single-line/multi-line layouts in each particular situation are made by the user, not by an algorithm. This makes the implementation simpler and leaves some control to the user while still guaranteeing that the formatted code is stylistically consistent.
  • Writing code in such a way so it's easy to modify and maintain.
  • That formatting style aims to result in minimal diffs while still remaining very close to “conventional” Haskell formatting people use.
  • Choose a style compatible with modern dialects of Haskell. As new Haskell extensions enter broad use, we may change the style to accommodate them.
  • Idempotence: formatting already formatted code doesn't change it.
  • Be well-tested and robust to the point that it can be used in large projects without exposing unfortunate, disappointing bugs here and there.
  • Implementing one “true” formatting style which admits no configuration. We allow configuration of various parameters, via CLI options or config files. We encourage any contributions which add further flexibility.


Fourmolu looks for a fourmolu.yaml file in all parents of the current directory, followed by the XDG config directory. A complete configuration file, corresponding to Fourmolu's default options, looks like:

indentation: 4
comma-style: leading # for lists, tuples etc. - can also be 'trailing'
record-brace-space: false # rec {x = 1} vs. rec{x = 1}
indent-wheres: false # 'false' means save space by only half-indenting the 'where' keyword
diff-friendly-import-export: true # 'false' uses Ormolu-style lists
respectful: true # don't be too opinionated about newlines etc.
haddock-style: multi-line # '--' vs. '{-'

See [here](fourmolu.yaml) for a config to simulate the behaviour of Ormolu.

These options can also be set on the command line (which takes precedence over config files). Run fourmolu -h to see all options.


Simply run cabal v2-install fourmolu, to install the latest release from Hackage.

You can also clone this repository, then build with Cabal or Stack.


The following will print the formatted output to the standard output.

$ fourmolu Module.hs

Add -i (or --mode inplace) to replace the contents of the input file with the formatted output.

$ fourmolu -i Module.hs

Use find to format a tree recursively:

$ fourmolu -i $(find . -name '*.hs')

Fourmolu can be integrated with your editor via the Haskell Language Server.

Magic comments

Fourmolu understands two magic comments:




This allows us to disable formatting selectively for code between these markers or disable it for the entire file. To achieve the latter, just put {- FOURMOLU_DISABLE -} at the very top. Note that for Fourmolu to work the source code must still be parseable even when the disabled regions are omitted. Because of that the magic comments cannot be placed arbitrarily, but rather must enclose independent top-level definitions.

{- ORMOLU_DISABLE -} and {- ORMOLU_ENABLE -}, respectively, can be used to the same effect.

Current limitations

  • CPP support is experimental. CPP is virtually impossible to handle correctly, so we process them as a sort of unchangeable snippets. This works only in simple cases when CPP conditionals surround top-level declarations. See the CPP section in the design notes for a discussion of the dangers.
  • Input modules should be parsable by Haddock, which is a bit stricter criterion than just being valid Haskell modules.
  • Various minor idempotence issues, most of them are related to comments.
  • Fourmolu is in a fairly early stage of development. The implementation should be as stable as Ormolu, as it only makes minimal changes, and is extensively tested. But the default configuration style may change in some minor ways in the near future, as we make more options available. It will always be possible to replicate the old default behaviour with a suitable fourmolu.yaml.


If there are any options you'd like to see, let us know. If it's not too complicated to implement (and especially if you implement it yourself!) then we'll probably add it.

Run cabal test and ./format.sh before submitting any pull requests.



Copyright © 2018–2020 Tweag I/O, 2020-present Matt Parsons


The vast majority of work here has been done by the Ormolu developers, and thus they deserve almost all of the credit. This project is simply intended as a haven for those of us who admire their work, but can't quite get on board with some of their decisions when it comes down to the details.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the fourmolu README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.