Mastering Code Formatting with Prettier

An illustration of a whimsical robot using a giant brush to paint clean, organized lines of code on a massive canvas, symbolizing the beauty and efficiency of using Prettier for code formatting.


Ever looked at a piece of code and thought it looked like a plate of spaghetti dropped from the 5th floor? You’re not alone. Code formatting can sometimes look like a mystical art form only understood by those who speak in binary. But fear not, for there is a magician in the town of Developmentville, and its name is Prettier. This powerful tool has been crafted to transform even the most chaotic code into a beautifully organized masterpiece. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the realm of Prettier, uncovering the secrets to mastering code formatting and making your life a whole lot easier.

Understanding Prettier

Before we embark on our journey to code formatting nirvana, let’s take a moment to understand what Prettier is. Prettier is an open-source, opinionated code formatter that supports many languages and integrates with most editors. Its primary goal is to ensure that all outputted code conforms to a consistent style. By doing so, it eliminates the need for discussions about styling rules and saves you time and energy that can be better spent on solving real problems. Think of Prettier as the wise old sage of code formatting, offering its wisdom to keep your code looking clean and readable.

Setting Up Prettier

Getting Prettier up and running is a breeze. It can either be run as an in-editor extension or as a stand-alone tool. Here’s a quick setup guide:

As an Editor Extension

  • First, find Prettier in your editor’s marketplace or extensions store and install it.
  • Once installed, you can configure Prettier’s settings according to your preferences.
  • Voilà! Your editor will now automatically format your code according to those settings every time you save a file (assuming you have enabled this feature).

As a Stand-alone Tool

  • Install Prettier globally using npm or yarn: npm install --global prettier or yarn global add prettier.
  • You can now run Prettier from the command line by navigating to your project directory and running prettier --write **/*.js (for JavaScript files).
  • This command will format all .js files in your project according to Prettier’s built-in rules or your configuration file if you have one.

Configuring Prettier

While Prettier is opinionated, it offers several options to customize formatting to your liking. Whether you prefer single quotes over double quotes, or tabs over spaces, there’s likely an option for you. Configuring Prettier is straightforward:

  1. Create a .prettierrc file in your project root.
  2. Add JSON configuration options to dictate how Prettier should format your code. For example:
  semi: false,
  singleQuote: true,
  tabWidth: 4

This configuration tells Prettier to avoid semi-colons, use single quotes, and indent with 4 spaces. The beauty of this is, much like finding matching socks in the morning, it takes away one less thing to worry about.

Integrating Prettier into Your Workflow

Integration into your existing workflow is crucial for getting the most out of Prettier. From pre-commit hooks to CI/CD pipelines, making Prettier a fundamental part of your process ensures that your codebase remains consistently formatted over time. Tools like Husky can be used to set up pre-commit hooks that automatically format your changed files each time you make a commit. This way, you can ensure no code goes into your repository without first being prettified.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

For those looking to level up their Prettier game, here are some advanced tips:

  • Ignore Files: If you have files you don’t want to format, create a .prettierignore file and list them there.
  • Integrate with ESLint: Use eslint-plugin-prettier and eslint-config-prettier to run Prettier as an ESLint rule, letting you fix formatting and linting issues in one go.
  • Custom Parsers: Prettier allows the use of custom parsers for unsupported languages or experimental features, expanding its versatility.

Remember, the goal is to make your life easier, not to spend countless hours tweaking settings. So if you ever find yourself spending more time configuring Prettier than writing code, you might be doing it wrong (or maybe just enjoying configuration a bit too much).


Mastering code formatting with Prettier is simpler than it might first appear. By understanding what Prettier is, setting it up correctly, and integrating it into your workflow, you can save time, reduce friction among team members, and maintain a high standard of code quality. And who knows? You might even find the joy in seeing your code transformed from a tangled web of spaghetti into a well-organized bento box of functionality.

As we’ve ventured through the intricacies of Prettier, remember that the ultimate goal is to focus on what truly matters: building great applications. So, allow Prettier to take the wheel on styling matters, giving you more time to pour into your code’s logic and structure.

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