Using Git attributes

This document will teach you how to use read and use .gitattributes files. To learn about the attributes Ascribe uses, read the specification, however it is greatly recommended that you read this page first.


This is the .gitattributes file for the Ascribe Vim extension.

*        text=auto final-newline eol=lf
*.vim    expand-tab tab-stop=4 trim-trailing-whitespace

This file defines 2 rules, one for all files, and the other for files with the .vim extension.

Click to view the equivalent .editorconfig file.

root = true

end_of_line = lf
insert_final_newline = true

indent_style = space
indent_size = 4
trim_trailing_whitespace = true


Each line of a .gitattributes file is a separate rule. It begins with a file pattern, and is followed by a list of attributes (whitespace is insignificant).

 *.vim    expand-tab tab-stop=4 trim-trailing-whitespace
|_____|  |______________________________________________|
   |                           |
File pattern             Attribute list

A file can be matched by multiple rules. In this example a file named something.vim will match both the * and *.vim rules, the resulting attribute list will be a combination of the two rules with the lower lines taking precedence over the upper lines.

File pattern

The file patterns are the same as those used in .gitignore files, but without the negation pattern (denoted by a literal ! at the start of the line).

Attribute list

When an attribute is not in the resulting attribute list, it is "unspecified".

If an attribute is mentioned in the .gitattributes file, it has been "explicitly specified".

Attributes which appear in the resulting attribute list but are not in the .gitattibutes file are "implicitly specified". Sometimes explicitly specifying an attribute will cause another to be implicitly specified. For example explicitly setting the binary attribute will implicitly unset the diff attribute.

Specified attributes can have 3 states.

  • Set (boolean true)
  • Unset (boolean false)
  • Set to value

These states are represented in .gitattributes files as the following.

*.py   expand-tab   tab-stop=4   -binary
      |__________| |__________| |_______|
            |            |          |
     Explicitly set      |   Explicitly unset
             Explicitly set to value

To explicitly set an attribute, just specify its name. To unset it, prepend it with a hyphen (-). To set to a value append an equals (=) and the value.

More information