Black is able to read project-specific default values for its command line options from a pyproject.toml file. This is especially useful for specifying custom --include and --exclude/--extend-exclude patterns for your project.

Pro-tip: If you’re asking yourself “Do I need to configure anything?” the answer is “No”. Black is all about sensible defaults.

What on Earth is a pyproject.toml file?

PEP 518 defines pyproject.toml as a configuration file to store build system requirements for Python projects. With the help of tools like Poetry or Flit it can fully replace the need for and setup.cfg files.

Where Black looks for the file

By default Black looks for pyproject.toml starting from the common base directory of all files and directories passed on the command line. If it’s not there, it looks in parent directories. It stops looking when it finds the file, or a .git directory, or a .hg directory, or the root of the file system, whichever comes first.

If you’re formatting standard input, Black will look for configuration starting from the current working directory.

You can also explicitly specify the path to a particular file that you want with --config. In this situation Black will not look for any other file.

If you’re running with --verbose, you will see a blue message if a file was found and used.

Please note blackd will not use pyproject.toml configuration.

Configuration format

As the file extension suggests, pyproject.toml is a TOML file. It contains separate sections for different tools. Black is using the [] section. The option keys are the same as long names of options on the command line.

Note that you have to use single-quoted strings in TOML for regular expressions. It’s the equivalent of r-strings in Python. Multiline strings are treated as verbose regular expressions by Black. Use [ ] to denote a significant space character.

Example pyproject.toml
line-length = 88
target-version = ['py37']
include = '\.pyi?$'
extend-exclude = '''
# A regex preceded with ^/ will apply only to files and directories
# in the root of the project.
^/  # exclude a file named in the root of the project (in addition to the defaults)

Lookup hierarchy

Command-line options have defaults that you can see in --help. A pyproject.toml can override those defaults. Finally, options provided by the user on the command line override both.

Black will only ever use one pyproject.toml file during an entire run. It doesn’t look for multiple files, and doesn’t compose configuration from different levels of the file hierarchy.