What is a Python File Header?

Similar to file headers in other languages the python file header also includes information relevant to the file. Every language or document has its name and a few details written at the top of it. This basically includes its name, author, and some relevant information.

The python file header is easy to create, but if you are someone new who is working with python and not familiar with file headers then you may require a little help. This guide here will help you with understanding and create a file header with the help of a common format.

What is File Header?

In general, a file header is defined as a block present at the top of the file that all the information related to the file. This will include the filename, author, and maybe date and some other information related to it. This is a common part present in all the files.

It is often used to verify the data types of the file. This is written along with the file extension of the applications on which it was written. It can also help to locate deleted files and user activity logs.

What is Python File Header?

Similar to the general File header the python file header has a filename, author name, date, and other details relevant to the file. This is used by in-built modules and third-party imports. Although the content of the file header may remain similar the format may not be. As the format differs from programmer to programmer. Unlike the regular file header, file header creation in programming languages like python requires coding

How to write Python File Header?

As mentioned above the file header in python require coding. So, while working the format of the file header may vary from programmer to programmer as it does not necessarily follow a particular path. Despite varying formats for making file headers, there is a common format that can help you without a fail.

Format for writing Python File Header

A file header in python generally has a shebang and a docstring with a description which basically includes syntax, and, encoding. The basic requirement for writing a good file header is to have an appropriate interpreter-friendly shebang and a module description that should be informative with regard to the script.


It is basically a character sequence with a character number sign starting with a hash and an exclamation mark (#!) at the beginning.


python file header

The shebang ends with the python along with the version it’s using. For example, if you are using python version 3 then it will be written as


Shebang declaration

Docstring with description description

This part basically includes the description of the file. The first line of the docstring description should be a short summary of the entire file as it should be interpreter friendly. The line can also include ‘#!interpreter’ which is an optional argument that is basically a string argument representing a single argument.

The docstring should be followed by all the codes or else the interpreter will not recognize the docstring. This may result in the denying of access to interactive sessions or generating documentation with automated tools.

Importing Modules

After adding the docstring with descriptions, the next step is to import built-in modules. Then you can move to import the third-party modules which are followed by making changes to the path and own modules. Sometimes changing the path and modules makes it difficult to locate so you may keep them in one place to make it easier to find.

The imports of built-in modules use the code ‘os’ module, ‘sys’ module, ‘math’ module, etc.


After writing the syntax for docstring the next step is encoding. This step is used to convert data from one form to another. This line uses the utf-8. The number placed after the utf denotes the values of the bits. in python 3 the default value is 8.


( -*- coding: utf-8 -*-)

Authorship Info

The next step is to add the authorship. In this part, you can mention the author, copyrighted to, and credits. You can also add the maintainer, which can edit to improve the file when it’s imported. You can also put status, which will show the status of the file. It can be “prototype”, “development”, or “production” based on the stage.

Apart from these, you can also add date, version, license, email, etc.

The syntax for format:

#!/usr/bin/env python
#!interpreter [optional-arg]
__author__ = "Rob Knight, Gavin Huttley, and Peter Maxwell"
__copyright__ = "Copyright 2007, The Cogent Project"
__credits__ = ["Rob Knight", "Peter Maxwell", "Gavin Huttley",
 "Matthew Wakefield"]
__license__ = "GPL"
__version__ = "1.0.1"
__maintainer__ = "Rob Knight"
__email__ = "[email protected]"
__status__ = "Production"


Difference between a file header and a header file?

A file header is defined as a block present at the top of the file that all the information related to the file whereas the header file is a file with an extension that contains function declarations and macro definitions that can be shared between several files. It is related to the C language.


This guide will help you find the right way to create a header for your file using the common format discussed above.


  1. Python Documentation
  2. Medium.com
  3. DelftStack

To learn more about resolving regular python issues follow pythonclear.

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