Use a Consistent Code Layout Within Each Project


Agree and enforce a standard code formatting scheme within each codebase.


The way in which Java code is formatted and laid out is largely a matter of personal preference.

Some styles (such as omitting braces in conditional statements) can arguably make certain types of bug slightly more likely.

Others might require more work to keep the code compliant (such as aligning fields into columns) but, to a first approximation, no particular scheme is greatly superior to any other.

Despite this, programmers tend to have strong opinions on the matter.

Every codebase should, however, have a single agreed formatting style which is consistently applied and is understood by everyone working on that codebase.

This prevents commit wars in which different team members re-format things to their personal preference. It also makes code easier to understand as there is a cognitive cost for the reader if formatting changes radically from file to file.

Although there is value in consistency, there is also a cost.

Unless there is already broad agreement across teams about how things should be formatted, trying to enforce one official set of rules is likely to create more ill will than benefit.

A global preferred reference should therefore be set, but teams should be free to deviate from this as they see fit as long as a consistent style is used for the code they maintain.

Suggested Formatting Rules

If your do not have your own strong preferences we suggest you follow the Google Java Style.

These formatting rules are well thought out, clearly documented and not overly prescriptive.

We will not describe them in any detail here, but code formatted to these rules will look something like the following :-

class Example {
  int[] myArray = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6};
  int theInt = 1;
  String someString = "Hello";
  double aDouble = 3.0;

  void foo(int a, int b, int c, int d, int e, int f) {
    if (f == 5) {
    } else {

    switch (a) {
      case 0:

  void bar(List<Integer> v) {
    for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
      v.add(new Integer(i));

However, we suggest that the guidance in the Google guide on when to write Javadoc is ignored in favor of our own.

Notable Points About This Style

Spaces not Tabs

Tabs may appear differently depending on how an editor is configured. This will result in constant reformatting as different programmers adapt the file to their editor settings. Spaces avoid this problem.

In some languages (e.g. JavaScript before the rise of code minifiers) tabs have/had an advantage as they reduced the size of the source file compared to using multiple spaces. The increase in size of the source file is of no relevance for Java.

One True Brace Style

There are various arguments about the supposed advantages of this style, but we suggest its use mainly because it is common in the Java community.

Although simple if else statements can be more concisely written by omitting the braces we suggest that they are always included. This reduces the chance of a statement being placed outside the conditional when this was not the intent.

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