Sometimes, you deliberately align code to make it more readable.

Until styler (with strict = TRUE, e.g. as in styler::style_file(..., strict = TRUE)), this was formatted as follows:

because no alignment detection was built in.1

styler >= detects aforementioned alignment for function calls. This vignette describes how aligned code is defined in styler and gives some examples so users can format their aligned code to match the definition styler uses to ensure their code is not unintentionally reformatted.

An important definition used in the remainder is the one of a column. All arguments of a function call that have the same position but are placed on different lines form a column. The below call shows a call with two columns and two rows. Columns separate arguments of the function call, so the separator is the comma. The first row is named because all arguments are named, the second is unnamed:

Function calls

Non-technical definition

Below, we try to explain in an intuitive way how your code should look like to be recognized as aligned.

If all arguments in the first column are named: Make commas match position vertically and right align everything between commas:

If not all arguments of the first column are named:2 Make all except the first column’s commas match position

  • vertically

  • right align everything between the commas

  • except before the first comma on a line

  • give priority to correctly indent (i.e. left align):

By align everything in between the commas, we mean put zero space before a comma and at least one after. Note that the arguments on the first line are ignored when detecting alignment, which is best shown when code is formatted such that no line breaks will be modified by styler. This applies if all names on the first line are unnamed and all subsequent are named:


These typical examples match styler’s definition of alignment.

Technical definition

This section closely follows the implementation of the alignment detection and is mostly aimed at developers for understanding styler internals.

Function calls are aligned if all of the following conditions hold (for all but the very first line (i.e. call( below):

  • all rows in first column have the same number of lag spaces. This basically means that the indention is identical for all columns (except for the closing brace if it is on its own line). The below example has one column, because the maximal number of commas on one line is one.
  • spacing around comma (0 before, > 1 after, >= 0 after last column on line) and spacing around = (at least one before and after).
  • All commas from all columns are aligned. This means that for every column, all commas must be on the same positions as the commas from the other lines. If not all arguments are named in the first column, this column is not considered. The reason to exclude the first column is that, as in the example below, it is possible that some arguments are named while others are not. Then, it is not generally possible to keep the first rule (i.e. indention identical across lines). Also ensuring that the comma does not have any spaces before it and its alignment with other lines does not hold true. This is shown below with the line f(x, y),. For this reason, the requirements exclude the first column in such cases. The holds example shows that is is possible (but not required) for named arguments to also have the commas separating the first and second column aligned.

Note that the above definition does not check alignment of =, so styler will treat the following as aligned:


not supported yet.


not supported yet.

  1. With strict = FALSE, the spacing would have been kept, however, strict = FALSE has a number of other implications because it is in general less invasive. For example, it would not add braces and line breaks to “if (TRUE) return()”.

  2. In the below example, the first argument of the first column is named (p = 2). The second argument of the first column is not (31).