SQLFluff accepts configuration either through the command line or through configuration files. There is rough parity between the two approaches with the exception that templating configuration must be done via a file, because it otherwise gets slightly complicated.

For details of what’s available on the command line check out the CLI Reference.

For file based configuration SQLFluff will look for the following files in order. Later files will (if found) will be used to overwrite any vales read from earlier files.

  • setup.cfg

  • tox.ini

  • pep8.ini

  • .sqlfluff

  • pyproject.toml

Within these files, the first four will be read like an cfg file, and SQLFluff will look for sections which start with SQLFluff, and where subsections are delimited by a semicolon. For example the jinjacontext section will be indicated in the section started with [sqlfluff:jinjacontext].

For the pyproject.toml file, all valid sections start with tool.sqlfluff and subsections are delimited by a dot. For example the jinjacontext section will be indicated in the section started with [tool.sqlfluff.jinjacontext].

For example

templater = "jinja"
sql_file_exts = ".sql,.sql.j2,.dml,.ddl"

indented_joins = false
indented_using_on = true
template_blocks_indent = false

unwrap_wrapped_queries = true

apply_dbt_builtins = true


SQLFluff uses nesting in its configuration files, with files closer overriding (or patching, if you will) values from other files. That means you’ll end up with a final config which will be a patchwork of all the values from the config files loaded up to that path. The exception to this is the value for templater, which cannot be set in config files in subdirectories of the working directory. You don’t need any config files to be present to make SQLFluff work. If you do want to override any values though SQLFluff will use files in the following locations in order, with values from later steps overriding those from earlier:

  1. […and this one doesn’t really count] There’s a default config as part of the SQLFluff package. You can find this below, in the Default Configuration section.

  2. It will look in the user’s os-specific app config directory. On OSX this is ~/Library/Preferences/sqlfluff, Unix is ~/.config/sqlfluff, Windows is <home>\AppData\Local\sqlfluff\sqlfluff, for any of the filenames above in the main Configuration section. If multiple are present, they will patch/override each other in the order above.

  3. It will look for the same files in the user’s home directory (~).

  4. It will look for the same files in the current working directory.

  5. [if parsing a file in a subdirectory of the current working directory] It will look for the same files in every subdirectory between the current working dir and the file directory.

  6. It will look for the same files in the directory containing the file being linted.

This whole structure leads to efficient configuration, in particular in projects which utilise a lot of complicated templating.

Jinja Templating Configuration

When thinking about Jinja templating there are two different kinds of things that a user might want to fill into a templated file, variables and functions/macros. Currently functions aren’t implemented in any of the templaters.

Variable Templating

Variables are available in the jinja, python and placeholder templaters. By default the templating engine will expect variables for templating to be available in the config, and the templater will be look in the section corresponding to the context for that templater. By convention, the config for the jinja templater is found in the sqlfluff:templater:jinja:context section, the config for the *python templater is found in the sqlfluff:templater:python:context section, the one for the placeholder templater is found in the sqlfluff:templater:placeholder:context section

For example, if passed the following .sql file:

SELECT {{ num_things }} FROM {{ tbl_name }} WHERE id > 10 LIMIT 5

…and the following configuration in .sqlfluff in the same directory:


…then before parsing, the sql will be transformed to:

SELECT 456 FROM my_table WHERE id > 10 LIMIT 5


If there are variables in the template which cannot be found in the current configuration context, then this will raise a SQLTemplatingError and this will appear as a violation without a line number, quoting the name of the variable that couldn’t be found.

Placeholder templating

Libraries such as SQLAlchemy or Psycopg use different parameter placeholder styles to mark where a parameter has to be inserted in the query.

For example a query in SQLAlchemy can look like this:

SELECT * FROM table WHERE id = :myid

At runtime :myid will be replace by a value provided by the application and escaped as needed, but this is not standard SQL and cannot be parsed as is.

In order to parse these queries is then necessary to replace these placeholders with sample values, and this is done with the placeholder templater.

Placeholder templating can be enabled in the config using:

templater = placeholder

A few common styles are supported:


WHERE bla = :my_name


WHERE bla = :2


WHERE bla = %(my_name)s


WHERE bla = $my_name


WHERE bla = ?


WHERE bla = $3


WHERE bla = %s


WHERE bla = &s or WHERE bla = &{s} or USE DATABASE MARKETING_{ENV}

These can be configured by setting param_style to the names above:


then it is necessary to set sample values for each parameter, like my_name above. Notice that the value needs to be escaped as it will be replaced as a string during parsing.

When parameters are positional, like question_mark, then their name is simply the order in which they appear, starting with 1.


In case you need a parameter style different from the ones above, you can pass a custom regex.


N.B. quotes around param_regex in the config are interpreted literally by the templater. e.g. param_regex=’__(?P<param_name>[w_]+)__’ matches ‘__some_param__’ not __some_param__

the named parameter param_name will be used as the key to replace, if missing, the parameter is assumed to be positional and numbers are used insead.

Also consider making a pull request to the project to have your style added, it may be useful to other people and simplify your configuration.

Complex Variable Templating

Two more advanced features of variable templating are case sensitivity and native python types. Both are illustrated in the following example:

my_list=['a', 'b', 'c']
MY_LIST=("d", "e", "f")
my_where_dict={"field_1": 1, "field_2": 2}
    {% for elem in MY_LIST %}
        '{{elem}}' {% if not loop.last %}||{% endif %}
    {% endfor %} as concatenated_list
FROM tbl
    {% for field, value in my_where_dict.items() %}
        {{field}} = {{value}} {% if not loop.last %}and{% endif %}
    {% endfor %}

…will render as…

    'd' || 'e' || 'f' as concatenated_list
FROM tbl
    field_1 = 1 and field_2 = 2

Note that the variable was replaced in a case sensitive way and that the settings in the config file were interpreted as native python types.

Macro Templating

Macros (which also look and feel like functions are available only in the jinja templater. Similar to Variable Templating, these are specified in config files, what’s different in this case is how they are named. Similar to the context section above, macros are configured separately in the macros section of the config. Consider the following example.

If passed the following .sql file:

SELECT {{ my_macro(6) }} FROM some_table

…and the following configuration in .sqlfluff in the same directory (note the tight control of whitespace):

a_macro_def = {% macro my_macro(something) %}{{something}} + {{something * 2}}{% endmacro %}

…then before parsing, the sql will be transformed to:

SELECT 6 + 12 FROM some_table

Note that in the code block above, the variable name in the config is a_macro_def, and this isn’t apparently otherwise used anywhere else. Broadly this is accurate, however within the configuration loader this will still be used to overwrite previous values in other config files. As such this introduces the idea of config blocks which could be selectively overwritten by other configuration files downstream as required.

In addition to macros specified in the config file, macros can also be loaded from a file or folder. The path to this macros folder must be specified in the config file to function as below:


In this case, SQLFluff will load macros from any .sql file found at the path specified on this variable. The path is interpreted relative to the config file, and therefore if the config file above was found at /home/my_project/.sqlfluff then SQLFluff will look for macros in the folder /home/my_project/my_macros/. Alternatively the path can also be a .sql itself. Any macros defined in the config will always take precedence over a macro defined in the path.


Throughout the templating process whitespace will still be treated rigorously, and this includes newlines. In particular you may choose to provide your dummy macros in your configuration with different to the actual macros you may be using in production.

REMEMBER: The purpose of providing the option of macros is to enable the parsing of templated sql without it being a blocker. It shouldn’t be a requirement that the templating is accurate - only so far as that is required to enable the parsing and linting to be helpful.

Builtin Macro Blocks

One of the main use cases which inspired SQLFluff as a project was dbt. It uses jinja templating extensively and leads to some users maintaining large repositories of sql files which could potentially benefit from some linting.


SQLFluff has now a tighter integration with dbt through the “dbt” templater. It is the recommended templater for dbt projects and removes the need for the overwrites described in this section.

To use the dbt templater, go to dbt Project Configuration.

SQLFluff anticipates this use case and provides some built in macro blocks in the Default Configuration which assist in getting started with dbt projects. In particular it provides mock objects for:

  • ref: The mock version of this provided simply returns the model reference as the name of the table. In most cases this is sufficient.

  • config: A regularly used macro in dbt to set configuration values. For linting purposes, this makes no difference and so the provided macro simply returns nothing.


If there are other builtin macros which would make your life easier, consider submitting the idea (or even better a pull request) on github.

Library Templating

If using SQLFluff for dbt with jinja as your templater, you may have library function calls within your sql files that can not be templated via the normal macro templating mechanisms:

SELECT foo, bar FROM baz {{ dbt_utils.group_by(2) }}

To template these libraries, you can use the sqlfluff:jinja:library_path config option:


This will pull in any python modules from that directory and allow sqlfluff to use them for templated. In the above example, you might define a file at sqlfluff_libs/ as:

def group_by(n):
    return "GROUP BY 1,2"

If an is detected, it will be loaded alongside any modules and submodules found within the library path.

   {{ custom_sum('foo', 'bar') }},
   {{'foo', 'bar') }}


def custom_sum(a: str, b: str) -> str:
    return a + b


# empty file


def another_sum(a: str, b: str) -> str:
   return a + b

dbt Project Configuration


From sqlfluff version 0.7.0 onwards, the dbt templater has been moved to a separate plugin and python package. You may find that projects already using the templater may initially fail after an upgrade to 0.7.0+. See install instructions below to install the dbt templater.

dbt templating is still a relatively new feature added in 0.4.0 and is still in very active development! If you encounter an issue, please let us know in a GitHub issue or on the SQLFluff slack workspace.

dbt is not the default templater for SQLFluff (it is Jinja). For using SQLFluff with a dbt project, users can either use the jinja templater (which may be slightly faster, but will not support the full spectrum of macros) or the dbt templater, which uses dbt itself to render the sql (meaning that there is a much more reliable representation of macros, but a potential performance hit accordingly). At this stage we recommend that users try both approaches and choose according to the method that they intend to use SQLFluff.

A simple rule of thumb might be:

  • If you are using SQLFluff in a CI/CD context, where speed is not critical but accuracy in rendering sql is, then the dbt templater may be more appropriate.

  • If you are using SQLFluff in an IDE or on a git hook, where speed of response may be more important, then the jinja templater may be more appropriate.

Installation & Configuration

In order to get started using SQLFluff with a dbt project you will first need to install the relevant dbt adapter for your dialect and the sqlfluff-templater-dbt package using your package manager of choice (e.g. pip install dbt-postgres sqlfluff-templater-dbt) and then will need the following configuration:

In .sqlfluff:

templater = dbt

In .sqlfluffignore:

# dbt <1.0.0
# dbt >=1.0.0

You can set the dbt project directory, profiles directory and profile with:

project_dir = <relative or absolute path to dbt_project directory>
profiles_dir = <relative or absolute path to the directory that contains the profiles.yml file>
profile = <dbt profile>


If the profiles_dir setting is omitted, SQLFluff will look for the profile in the default location, which varies by operating system. On Unix-like operating systems (e.g. Linux or macOS), the default profile directory is ~/.dbt/. On Windows, you can determine your default profile directory by running dbt debug –config-dir.

Known Caveats

  • To use the dbt templater, you must set templater = dbt in the .sqlfluff config file in the directory where sqlfluff is run. The templater cannot be changed in .sqlfluff files in subdirectories.

  • In SQLFluff 0.4.0 using the dbt templater requires that all files within the root and child directories of the dbt project must be part of the project. If there are deployment scripts which refer to SQL files not part of the project for instance, this will result in an error. You can overcome this by adding any non-dbt project SQL files to .sqlfluffignore.

CLI Arguments

You already know you can pass arguments (--verbose, --exclude-rules, etc.) through the CLI commands (lint, fix, etc.):

$ sqlfluff lint my_code.sql -v --exclude-rules L022,L027

You might have arguments that you pass through every time, e.g rules you always want to ignore. These can also be configured:

verbose = 1
exclude_rules = L022,L027

Note that while the exclude_rules config looks similar to the above example, the verbose config has an integer value. This is because verbose is stackable meaning there are multiple levels of verbosity that are available for configuration. See CLI Reference for more details about the available CLI arguments.

Ignoring Errors & Files

Ignoring individual lines

Similar to flake8’s ignore, individual lines can be ignored by adding -- noqa to the end of the line. Additionally, specific rules can be ignored by quoting their code or the category.

-- Ignore all errors
SeLeCt  1 from tBl ;    -- noqa

-- Ignore rule L014 & rule L030
SeLeCt  1 from tBl ;    -- noqa: L014,L030

-- Ignore all parsing errors
SeLeCt from tBl ;       -- noqa: PRS

Ignoring line ranges

Similar to pylint’s “pylint” directive”, ranges of lines can be ignored by adding -- noqa:disable=<rule>[,...] | all to the line. Following this directive, specified rules (or all rules, if “all” was specified) will be ignored until a corresponding – noqa:enable=<rule>[,…] | all directive.

-- Ignore rule L012 from this line forward
SELECT col_a a FROM foo --noqa: disable=L012

-- Ignore all rules from this line forward
SELECT col_a a FROM foo --noqa: disable=all

-- Enforce all rules from this line forward
SELECT col_a a FROM foo --noqa: enable=all


Similar to Git’s .gitignore and Docker’s .dockerignore, SQLFluff supports a .sqlfluffignore file to control which files are and aren’t linted. Under the hood we use the python pathspec library which also has a brief tutorial in their documentation.

An example of a potential .sqlfluffignore placed in the root of your project would be:

# Comments start with a hash.

# Ignore anything in the "temp" path

# Ignore anything called "testing.sql"

# Ignore any ".tsql" files

Ignore files can also be placed in subdirectories of a path which is being linted and the sub files will also be applied within that subdirectory.

Default Configuration

The default configuration is as follows, note the Builtin Macro Blocks in section [sqlfluff:templater:jinja:macros] as referred to above.

  2verbose = 0
  3nocolor = False
  4dialect = ansi
  5templater = jinja
  6rules = None
  7exclude_rules = None
  8recurse = 0
  9output_line_length = 80
 10runaway_limit = 10
 11ignore_templated_areas = True
 12encoding = autodetect
 13disable_noqa = False
 14# Comma separated list of file extensions to lint.
 15# NB: This config will only apply in the root folder.
 16sql_file_exts = .sql,.sql.j2,.dml,.ddl
 19indented_joins = False
 20indented_using_on = True
 21template_blocks_indent = True
 24unwrap_wrapped_queries = True
 27apply_dbt_builtins = True
 30# Macros provided as builtins for dbt projects
 31dbt_ref = {% macro ref(model_ref) %}{{model_ref}}{% endmacro %}
 32dbt_source = {% macro source(source_name, table) %}{{source_name}}_{{table}}{% endmacro %}
 33dbt_config = {% macro config() %}{% for k in kwargs %}{% endfor %}{% endmacro %}
 34dbt_var = {% macro var(variable, default='') %}item{% endmacro %}
 35dbt_is_incremental = {% macro is_incremental() %}True{% endmacro %}
 37# Some rules can be configured directly from the config common to other rules.
 39tab_space_size = 4
 40max_line_length = 80
 41indent_unit = space
 42comma_style = trailing
 43allow_scalar = True
 44single_table_references = consistent
 45unquoted_identifiers_policy = all
 47# Some rules have their own specific config.
 48[sqlfluff:rules:L007]  # Keywords
 49operator_new_lines = after
 51[sqlfluff:rules:L010]  # Keywords
 52capitalisation_policy = consistent
 54[sqlfluff:rules:L011]  # Aliasing
 55aliasing = explicit
 57[sqlfluff:rules:L012]  # Aliasing
 58aliasing = explicit
 60[sqlfluff:rules:L014]  # Unquoted identifiers
 61extended_capitalisation_policy = consistent
 64ignore_comment_lines = False
 67force_enable = False
 70force_enable = False
 72[sqlfluff:rules:L029]  # Keyword identifiers
 73unquoted_identifiers_policy = aliases
 74quoted_identifiers_policy = none
 76[sqlfluff:rules:L030]  # Function names
 77capitalisation_policy = consistent
 80select_clause_trailing_comma = forbid
 82[sqlfluff:rules:L040]  # Null & Boolean Literals
 83capitalisation_policy = consistent
 86# By default, allow subqueries in from clauses, but not join clauses.
 87forbid_subquery_in = join
 89[sqlfluff:rules:L047]  # Consistent syntax to count all rows
 90prefer_count_1 = False
 91prefer_count_0 = False
 93[sqlfluff:rules:L052]  # Semi-colon formatting approach.
 94multiline_newline = False
 95require_final_semicolon = False
 97[sqlfluff:rules:L054]  # GROUP BY/ORDER BY column references.
 98group_by_and_order_by_style = consistent
100[sqlfluff:rules:L057]  # Special characters in identifiers
101unquoted_identifiers_policy = all
102quoted_identifiers_policy = all
103allow_space_in_identifier = False