How to comment out multiple lines in Python

Paul Hill

March 31, 2024 • 4 min read

    Commenting out code is a common practice among programmers. It allows you to temporarily disable parts of your code without deleting them. This can be incredibly useful for debugging or for explaining code to fellow developers. However, Python presents a unique challenge; unlike languages such as JavaScript or C++, it doesn’t have a built-in mechanism for commenting out multiple lines of code with a single statement.

    python multiline comment
    Python Multiline Comments

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    Using Docstrings for Multiline Comments in Python

    One creative solution to Python’s limitation is the use of docstrings. Traditionally reserved for documentation, docstrings can double as multiline comments. Here’s how you can use them:

    """
    This is a multiline comment in Python.
    Everything enclosed in these triple quotes is considered a comment.
    """
    print("Hello, world!")
    

    This was tweeted by Guido van Rossum (the creator of the Python Programming language). This method repurposes docstrings, allowing you to comment out blocks of text easily. While not its intended use, it’s a clever workaround for the lack of native multiline comment support.

    Commenting Out Code in Text Editors and IDEs

    For those working in text editors or Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), there are often built-in features that simplify the process of commenting out multiple lines. Let’s take a closer look at how this is done in Visual Studio Code (VSCode), one of the most popular editors for Python development.

    Editors like VSCode allow you to add opening and closing quotation marks around selected text. So you can select the block of code you want to comment out, then type three quotation marks to effectively comment out that code.

    You can comment out multiple lines at once using a simple keyboard shortcut. For Windows and Linux users, the shortcut is Ctrl + /. Mac users, on the other hand, should use Cmd + /. This shortcut will automatically prefix each selected line with a #, Python’s symbol for single-line comments.

    Alternative Methods to Comment Out Multiple Lines

    Beyond docstrings and IDE shortcuts, you can manually apply single-line comments. By prefixing each line you wish to disable with a #, you effectively turn them into comments. While this method is more labor-intensive, it’s universally applicable across all text editors and doesn’t rely on specific features or shortcuts.

    Best Practices for Commenting Out Code

    When commenting out code, it’s important to do so judiciously. Use comments to clarify complex logic, temporarily disable code sections during debugging, or leave notes for future developers. However, ensure that your comments remain relevant and are updated or removed as the code evolves. Overcommenting or leaving outdated comments can lead to confusion and clutter in your codebase.

    Conclusion and Call to Action

    Commenting out multiple lines in Python might not be as straightforward as in some other languages, but there are several effective methods to achieve it. Whether through the inventive use of docstrings, leveraging the capabilities of your IDE, or manually applying single-line comments, you have options at your disposal.

    As you continue to develop your Python skills, consider practicing these techniques. They can enhance your coding workflow and make debugging a smoother process. If you’re looking to further your knowledge, consider signing up for a Python course at Server Academy. It’s a great way to deepen your understanding and refine your programming skills.

    We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on commenting out code in Python. Have you found a particular method more effective? Share your insights in the comments below!

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