The indent option

What does this option do?

In JSLint and JSHint the indent option is used to enforce a specific tab width in your code. Both tools make their own assumptions about when indentation should occur but are largely identical in this regard. In the following example we specify an indentation width of 4 spaces. Both tools expect the body of an if statement to be indented so both will warn if the identation is not of the required width:

/*jslint indent: 4 */
function doSomething(x) {
    "use strict";
    if (x) {

When should I use this option?

With JSLint you'll get an "Expected '{a}' at column {b}, not column {c}" error any time an incorrect indentation width is found. In JSHint you'll get an "Expected '{a}' to have an indentation at {b} instead at {c}" error under the same circumstances. By enabling the validation of indentation you can ensure it remains consistent throughout your code which will make it much easier to read. Common values for this option are 4 and 2 but the exact number depends on your personal preference and existing conventions.

Note that in JSHint this is an enforcing option which means JSHint does not apply it by default. If you do not explicitly set this option to an integer JSHint will not warn about indentation anywhere in your code.


  • JSLint - Set this option to 2 or 4 to enable indentation validation

  • JSHint - Set this option to 2 or 4 to enable indentation validation

About the author

James Allardice

This article was written by James Allardice, Software engineer at Tesco and orangejellyfish in London. Passionate about React, Node and writing clean and maintainable JavaScript. Uses linters (currently ESLint) every day to help achieve this.