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How to Use Python isort Library

How to Use Python isort Library

isort is a Python utility / library to sort imports alphabetically, and automatically separated into sections. It’s very useful in Django projects, specially in views where we usually deal with a great amount of imports.

Organizing the imports in sections is easy, but to keep them in alphabetical order is very tedious. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have to run all the letters in my head to make sure 😂.


Install it via pip or grab the code from GitHub:

pip install isort


You can already start using it without any configuration:

# sort multiple files

# show a diff before applying any change
isort --diff

# just check for errors
isort --check-only

You can also apply the changes or check for errors recursively:

# check which files will be sorted
isort --recursive --check-only

# sort the whole project
isort --recursive .


This is how I like to organize my imports in a Django project:

  • Future imports
  • Python Standard Libraries
  • Django core
  • Third party libraries (related or not to Django)
  • First party libraries (that is, our project’s imports)
  • Local imports

You can achieve this by adding a configuration file in the project root. Either add a setup.cfg or a file named .isort.cfg in the project root.


default_section = THIRDPARTY
known_first_party = myproject  # change it for the name of your django project
known_django = django

This is an example of the final result:

from __future__ import unicode_literals

import json
import time

from django.contrib import messages
from django.contrib.auth.decorators import login_required
from django.forms.formsets import formset_factory
from django.forms.models import inlineformset_factory
from django.views.decorators.http import require_POST

from bibtexparser.bparser import BibTexParser
from bibtexparser.customization import convert_to_unicode

from import author_required, main_author_required
from import Review

from .forms import KeywordForm, SynonymForm

If you need to have imports out of order, to avoid circular import for example, you can use the isort:skip comment:

import module  # isort:skip

You can find out more about the isort library visiting its GitHub Page.