“inconsistent use of tabs and spaces in indentation”

I’m trying to create an application in Python 3.2 and I use tabs all the time for indentation, but even the editor changes some of them into spaces and then print out “inconsistent use of tabs and spaces in indentation” when I try to run the program.

How can I change the spaces into tabs? It’s driving me crazy. (I’m a beginner in programming). I would be glad if I could get some overall tips on my code, if I have done a lot of mistakes I would be happy to hear.

import random

attraktioner = ["frittfall","bergodalbana","spökhuset"]

class Nojesfalt:
    def __init__(self, attraktion):
        self.val = attraktion
        self.langd = 0
        self.alder = 0

#längdgräns för fritt fall
    def langdgrans(self):
        self.langd = int(input("Hur lång är du i cm? "))
        if self.langd < 140:
            print("tyvärr, du är för kort, prova något annat")
            return 0
        elif self.langd >= 140:
            print("håll dig hatten, nu åker vi!")
            print(" ")
            return 1

#åldersgräns för spökhuset
    def aldersgrans(self):
        self.alder = int(input("Hur gammal är du? "))
        if self.alder < 10:
            print("tyvärr, du är för ung, prova något annat")
            return 0
        elif self.alder >= 10:
            print("Gå in om du törs!")
            print(" ")
            return 1

#åker attraktion frittfall lr bergodalbana
        def aka(self):
        tal = random.randint(0,100)
        if tal < 20:
            print("åkturen gick åt skogen, bättre lycka nästa gång")
        elif tal >= 20:
            return 1

#går i spökhuset
        def aka1(self):
        tal = random.randint(0,100)
        if tal < 20:
            print("du är omringad av spöken och kan inte fortsätta")            return 0
        elif tal >= 20:
            print("Buhuuuuuu, buuuhuuuu")
            return 1

print("Välkommen till nöjesfältet, vad vill du göra?")
print(" ")

while 1:
    vald_attr = input("Vad vill du göra?n1. frittfalln2. bergodalbanan3. spökhusetn4. Avslutan")
    if vald_attr == "1":
        val = Nojesfalt(attraktioner[0])
        if val.langdgrans() == 1:
    elif vald_attr == "2":
        val = Nojesfalt(attraktioner[1])
    elif vald_attr == "3":
        val = Nojesfalt(attraktioner[2])
        if val.aldersgrans() == 1:
    elif vald_attr == "4":

28 Answers

Don’t use tabs.

  1. Set your editor to use 4 spaces for indentation.
  2. Make a search and replace to replace all tabs with 4 spaces.
  3. Make sure your editor is set to display tabs as 8 spaces.

Note: The reason for 8 spaces for tabs is so that you immediately notice when tabs have been inserted unintentionally – such as when copying and pasting from example code that uses tabs instead of spaces.

Using the autopep8 command below fixed it for me:

 autopep8 -i my_file.py

Documentation for autopep8 linked here.

With the IDLE editor you can use this:

  • Menu EditSelect All
  • Menu FormatUntabify Region
  • Assuming your editor has replaced 8 spaces with a tab, enter 8 into the input box.
  • Hit select, and it fixes the entire document.

When using the sublime text editor, I was able to select the segment of my code that was giving me the inconsistent use of tabs and spaces in indentation error and select:

view > indentation > convert indentation to spaces

which resolved the issue for me.

For VSCode users

Ctrl+Shift+P or View->Command Palette.


>Convert Indentation to Spaces

press Enter.

If you are using Sublime Text for Python development, you can avoid the error by using the package Anaconda. After installing Anaconda, open your file in Sublime Text, right click on the open spaces → choose Anaconda → click on autoformat. Done. Or press Ctrl + Alt + R.

Generally, people prefer indenting with space. It’s more consistent across editors, resulting in fewer mismatches of this sort. However, you are allowed to indent with tab. It’s your choice; however, you should be aware that the standard of 8 spaces per tab is a bit wide.

Concerning your issue, most probably, your editor messed up. To convert tab to space is really editor-dependent.

On Emacs, for example, you can call the method ‘untabify’.

On command line, you can use a sed line (adapt the number of spaces to whatever pleases you):

   sed -e 's;t;       ;' < yourFile.py > yourNedFile.py

What I did when the same error popped up: Select everything (Str + A) and press Shift + Tab. So nothing was indented anymore. Now go back to the lines you want to have indented, and put it back how you want it.

It worked for me…

I recently had the same problem and found out that I just needed to convert the .py file’s charset to UTF-8 as that’s the set Python 3 uses.

BTW, I used 4-space tabs all the time, so the problem wasn’t caused by them.

It is possible to solve this problem using notepad++ by replacing Tabs with 4 Spaces:

  1. Choose Search -> Find… or press Ctrl + F
  2. Select the Replace tab
  3. In the box named Search Mode choose Extended(n, r, t, , x…)
  4. In the field Find what : write t
  5. In the field Replace with : press Space 4 times. Be sure that there is nothing else in this field.
  6. Click on the button Replace All

How to replace Tabs with Spaces

Sublime Text 3

In Sublime Text, WHILE editing a Python file:

Sublime Text menu > Preferences > Settings – Syntax Specific :


    "tab_size": 4,
    "translate_tabs_to_spaces": true

I had this problem. Solution: your ‘tab’ before the problem line is spaces, 4, 6, or 8 spaces. You should erase them and insert TAB. ‘t’. That’s all.

Your problem is due to your editor limitations/configuration. Some editors provide you of tools to help with the problem by:

  1. Converting tabs into spaces

    For example, if you are using Stani’s Python editor you can configure it to do it on saving.

  2. Converting spaces into tabs

If you are using ActiveState Komodo you have a tool to ‘tabify’ your code. As others already pointed, this is not a good idea.

Eclipse’s Pydev provides functions “Convert tabs to space-tabs” and “Convert space-tabs to tabs”.

I use Notepad++ and got this error.

In Notepad++ you will see that both the tab and the four spaces are the same, but when you copy your code to Python IDLE you would see the difference and the line with a tab would have more space before it than the others.

To solve the problem, I just deleted the tab before the line then added four spaces.

I had the same error. I had to add several code lines to an existing *.py file. In Notepad++ it did not work.

After adding the code lines and saving, I got the same error. When I opened the same file in PyCharm and added the lines, the error disappeared.

If your editor doesn’t recognize tabs when doing a search and replace (like SciTE), you can paste the code into Word and search using Ctr-H and ^t which finds the tabs which then can be replace with 4 spaces.

There was a duplicate of this question from here but I thought I would offer a view to do with modern editors and the vast array of features they offer. With python code, anything that needs to be intented in a .py file, needs to either all be intented using the tab key, or by spaces. Convention is to use four spaces for an indentation. Most editors have the ability to visually show on the editor whether the code is being indented with spaces or tabs, which helps greatly for debugging. For example, with atom, going to preferences and then editor you can see the following two options:

atom editor to show tabs and spaces

Then if your code is using spaces, you will see small dots where your code is indented:

enter image description here

And if it is indented using tabs, you will see something like this:

enter image description here

Now if you noticed, you can see that when using tabs, there are more errors/warnings on the left, this is because of something called pep8 pep8 documentation, which is basically a uniform style guide for python, so that all developers mostly code to the same standard and appearance, which helps when trying to understand other peoples code, it is in pep8 which favors the use of spaces to indent rather than tabs. And we can see the editor showing that there is a warning relating to pep8 warning code W191,

I hope all the above helps you understand the nature of the problem you are having and how to prevent it in the future.

If you use ATOM:

Go to Menu: Packages --> WhiteSpace --> Convert all Tabs to Spaces

Try deleting the indents and then systematically either pressing tab or pressing space 4 times. This usually happens to me when I have an indent using the tab key and then use the space key in the next line.

I got the same errors but could not figure out what I was doing wrong.

So I fixed it by running auto-indent on my code and allowing the machine to fix my fault.

If anyone is wondering how I did that. Simple. Go in vim. Type in G=gg.

This will automatically fix everything. Good luck 🙂

Sometimes, tab does mess up while indenting. One way is to obviously use the tab and backspace to correctly indent the code.

Another way is to use space 4 times (depending on how much you want to indent).

A weird way that worked for me when nothing else worked, whichever line I getting the error, I backspaced that line to the previous line and then pressed enter. It automatically indented the line to correct position and I was not getting any error after that.

Hopefully, this should help.

I had the same problem and fix it using following python script. hope it help others.

it is because of using tabs and spaces for indenting code. in this script I replace each tab with four spaces.

input_file = "source code path here"  # e.g. source.py
output_file = "out put file path here"  # e.g out.py
with open(input_file, 'r') as source:
    with open(output_file, 'a+') as result:
        for line in source:
            line = line.replace('t', '    ')

if you use sublime or any other editor which gives you the tool to replace text you can replace all tabs by four spaces from editor.

Use, Idle for python, or Idle3 for python3.

Solving this using Vim editor

  1. Open terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T).
  2. Go to the directory where the file is located (cd <path_to_your_directory>). Ex: cd /home/vineeshvs/work.
  3. Open the file in Vim (vim <file_name>). Ex: vim myfile.txt .
  4. [Optional step] Enable search keyword highlighting in Vim (ESC :set hlsearch)
  5. Go to the line where you have this problem (ESC :<line_number>). Ex: :53 in Vim editor after pressing ESC button once.
  6. Replace tabs using the required number of spaces in Vim (:.,$s/t/<give_as_many_spaces_as_you_want_to_replace_tab>/gc). Ex: Tab will be replaced with four spaces using the following command: :.,$s/t/ /gc after pressing ESC button once). This process is interactive. You may give y to replace the tab with spaces and n to skip a particular replacement. Press ESC when you are done with the required replacements.

I oddly ran into a similar issue with one of my .py files. I simply opened the file in Pycharm and pressed Option+Command+L which correctly formats the file contents in one go.

I suspect I was having trouble because I coded this particular .py file through jupyter labs as opposed to my usual choice of sublime text or Pycharm and therefore ran into some hidden indentation issues many answers here have alluded to

Well I had the same problem and I realised that the problem is that I copied code from another python editor to sublime.

I was working with jupyter notebook and then I copied the code into sublime. Apparently when you make specific modifications (like moving code in functions) then indentation gets messy and this is where the problem comes from.

So just stick to one editor. If you do so, then you will be having no problem.

Use pylint it will give you a detailed report about how many spaces you need and where.

Highligt the indented bits, and then click tabs. They will then become consistent 🙂

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