How to customize Vertical Rulers in Visual Studio Code

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Borislav Hadzhiev

Last updated: Mar 13, 2023
6 min

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# Table of Contents

  1. Creating and Customizing a Vertical Ruler in Visual Studio Code
  2. Changing the color of the vertical ruler
  3. Rendering multiple vertical Rulers in VS Code
  4. Setting the colors of multiple rulers
  5. Defining language-specific vertical rulers in VS Code
  6. Setting the Maximum Line Length in VS Code

# Creating and Customizing a Vertical Ruler in Visual Studio Code

You can use the editor.rulers setting to define a vertical ruler in VS Code:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + P (or Command + Shift + P on macOS).
Note: you can also press F1 to open the Command Palette.
  1. Type user settings json.

  2. Click on Preferences: Open User Settings (JSON)

preferences open user settings

  1. Set the editor.rulers property to an array.
setings.json
"editor.rulers": [80],

Make sure to remove the trailing comma if the property comes last.

Also, ensure the editor.rulers property is not already set in your settings.json file as it shouldn't be duplicated.

The editor.rulers property is used to render vertical rulers after a certain number of characters (80 in the example).

define vertical ruler

No rulers are rendered if the array is empty.

Vs Code rulers provide a visual right-side boundary, however, they don't automatically set the max length of a line.

This article also contains information on how to set the maximum line length in VS Code.

If you can't see the ruler applied, try to zoom out with Ctrl + - or Cmd + - on macOS and reload VS Code.

You can reload the editor by pressing F1 and typing Reload Window.

# Changing the color of the vertical ruler

You can use the workbench.colorCustomizations property to change the color of the vertical ruler.

settings.json
"editor.rulers": [80], "workbench.colorCustomizations": { "editorRuler.foreground": "#fbff00" },

If you already have the workbench.colorCustomizations object defined in your settings.json file, add the editorRuler.foreground property to the existing object.

change color of vertical ruler

The editorRuler.foreground property changes the default color of vertical rulers. The color can also be set for each specific ruler to override the property.

The color can be set using the following formats:

  • #RGB
  • #RGBA
  • #RRGGBB
  • #RRGGBBAA

Here is a screenshot of a colored vertical ruler.

colored vertical ruler

# Rendering multiple vertical Rulers in VS Code

Specify multiple values in the array to render multiple rulers.

settings.json
"editor.rulers": [80, 100, 120],

Remove the trailing comma if the line comes last.

render multiple vertical rulers in vscode

Adjust the number of characters for each ruler as you see fit.

Here is a screenshot that shows what multiple vertical rulers look like.

multiple vertical rulers

# Setting the colors of multiple rulers

You can set the editor.rulers property to an array of objects to set the colors of multiple rulers.

settings.json
"editor.rulers": [ { "column": 80, "color": "#3cff00" }, { "column": 100, "color": "#ff2fc1" }, { "column": 120, "color": "#ff7700" } ],

set color of multiple rulers

Make sure to remove the trailing comma after the closing bracket ] if the property comes last.

Here is a screenshot of what the rulers look like.

multiple colored rulers

If you want to leave one or more rulers uncolored, simply pass the number of characters at which the ruler should be rendered as an integer.

settings.json
"editor.rulers": [ 80, // 👈️ ruler without color set { "column": 100, "color": "#ff2fc1" }, { "column": 120, "color": "#ff7700" } ],

If you want to set a default color for rulers that don't have a color set, specify the editorRuler.foreground property within the workbench.colorCustomizations object as in one of the previous examples.

settings.json
"workbench.colorCustomizations": { "editorRuler.foreground": "#fbff00" },

Make sure to not duplicate the workbench.colorCustomizations property.

If the property is already set in your settings.json file, add the editorRuler.foreground inside the existing object.

# Defining language-specific vertical rulers in VS Code

You can use the following syntax to define programming language-specific vertical rulers.

settings.json
"[css]": { "editor.rulers": [ { "column": 100, "color": "#ceff0a" } ] }, "[git-commit]": { "editor.rulers": [80] },

Make sure to remove the trailing comma if the property comes last.

define language specific vertical rulers

The language identifier is wrapped in square brackets as shown in the code sample.

You can view all available language identifiers in this table in the docs.

The first object in the array creates a colored vertical ruler for CSS files at the 100th-character mark.

The second object defines a vertical ruler in git commit files at the 80th-character mark.

Defining vertical rulers on a per-language level is useful because different languages have different recommendations regarding line length.

# Setting the Maximum Line Length in VS Code

You can use the word wrap setting to set the maximum length of each line or remove the limitation.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + P (or Command + Shift + P on macOS).
Note: you can also press F1 to open the Command Palette.
  1. Type user settings and select Preferences: Open User Settings.

open user settings

You can also open the settings screen by pressing Ctrl + , on Windows and Linux or Cmd + , on macOS.

  1. Search for word wrap.

set maximum line length

The Editor: Word Wrap setting has 4 possible values:

  • on - lines will wrap at the viewport width.
  • off - lines will never wrap.
  • wordWrapColumn - lines will wrap at Editor: Word Wrap Column.
  • bounded - lines will wrap at the minimum of the viewport width and Editor: Word Wrap Column.

If you want to remove the limitation of how long lines should be, set Editor: Word Wrap to off.

If you want to set the column at which lines should wrap, set Editor: Word Wrap to wordWrapColumn.

set column at which lines should wrap

Once the setting is set to wordWrapColumn, we have to update the value of Editor: Word Wrap Column.

Search for word wrap column and update the value if necessary.

The setting controls the wrapping column of the editor when Editor: Word Wrap is set to wordWrapColumn or bounded.

By default, it is set to 80.

update editor word wrap column

# Alternatively, set the properties in your settings.json file

You can also set the properties directly in your settings.json file.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + P (or Command + Shift + P on macOS).
Note: you can also press F1 to open the Command Palette.
  1. Type user settings json.

  2. Click on Preferences: Open User Settings (JSON)

preferences open user settings

  1. Add the following properties.
settings.json
"editor.wordWrap": "wordWrapColumn", "editor.wordWrapColumn": 80,

Make sure to remove the trailing comma if the property comes last.

set max line length in settings json

If you want to disable the length limitation, set the editor.wordWrap property to off.

settings.json
"editor.wordWrap": "off",

# Setting the Maximum Line Length when using prettier

If you use prettier in VS Code, you can use the printWidth property to set the maximum line length.

Here is an example of doing this in your .prettierrc file.

.prettierrc
{ "printWidth": 80 }

prettier set maximum line length

The example sets the maximum line length to 80 characters.

This is a rough estimate and is not strictly followed by Prettier.

The library might make shorter or longer lines but generally strives to meet the specified printWidth.

You can also update the setting in VS Code if you don't use a .prettierrc file.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + P (or Command + Shift + P on macOS).
Note: you can also press F1 to open the Command Palette.
  1. Type user settings and select Preferences: Open User Settings.

open user settings

You can also open the settings screen by pressing Ctrl + , on Windows and Linux or Cmd + , on macOS.

  1. Search for prettier print width and update the value of the setting.

update prettier print width

I've also written an article on how to do column (box) selection in VS Code.

# Additional Resources

You can learn more about the related topics by checking out the following tutorials:

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