6.7.5 Documentation Strings
There are emerging conventions about the content and formatting of
The first line should always be a short, concise summary of the
object's purpose. For brevity, it should not explicitly state the
object's name or type, since these are available by other means
(except if the name happens to be a verb describing a function's
operation). This line should begin with a capital letter and end with
If there are more lines in the documentation string, the second line
should be blank, visually separating the summary from the rest of the
description. The following lines should be one or more paragraphs
describing the object's calling conventions, its side effects, etc.
The Python parser does not strip indentation from multi-line string
literals in Python, so tools that process documentation have to strip
indentation if desired. This is done using the following convention.
The first non-blank line after the first line of the string
determines the amount of indentation for the entire documentation
string. (We can't use the first line since it is generally adjacent
to the string's opening quotes so its indentation is not apparent in
the string literal.) Whitespace "equivalent" to this indentation is
then stripped from the start of all lines of the string. Lines that
are indented less should not occur, but if they occur all their
leading whitespace should be stripped. Equivalence of whitespace
should be tested after expansion of tabs (to 8 spaces, normally).
Here is an example of a multi-line docstring:
>>> def my_function():
... """Do nothing, but document it.
... No, really, it doesn't do anything.
>>> print my_function.__doc__
Do nothing, but document it.
No, really, it doesn't do anything.