By Lex Li

This article shows how to configure the extension.

Sample Project#

Before digging further into the configuration, please create a sample project first.

mkdir sphinxtest
cd sphinxtest
code .

The test project has the following contents, like makefile,, and build folder.

Now this project is opened in Visual Studio Code.


You also need to install prerequisites. Please refer to Prerequisites for details.


If Microsoft Python extension is installed, please first open of your project. The Python extension should ask you to specify the Python interpreter to use (in case the machine has multiple interpreters installed). Your preference is saved by the Python extension, and is then consumed by this extension.

If you didn’t make a choice, this extension might not be able to use the Python interpreter you expected.

For information, please refer to Prerequisites.

Live Preview#


Starting from version 190.1.17, this feature is removed. You will be recommended to install Esbonio extension instead. To learn more about how to configure Esbonio, you can visit this site.

You might tune the following three settings when the extension cannot locate the generated HTML pages.

First, a new file .vscode/settings.json needs to be created under the root directory shown in your Explorer tab in Visual Studio Code.

Its default content is as below,

    "esbonio.sphinx.buildDir" : "${workspaceFolder}/_build/html",
    "esbonio.sphinx.confDir"  : "${workspaceFolder}",
    "esbonio.sphinx.srcDir"   : "${workspaceFolder}"


All settings are set to the default values.


Old settings below are obsolete since release 179.0.0,

  • restructuredtext.builtDocumentationPath

  • restructuredtext.confPath

  • restructuredtext.sourcePath

This extension will migrate the values of such settings to new settings. You have to delete the obsolete settings afterwards.

A file with customized values might look as below,

    "esbonio.sphinx.buildDir" : "${workspaceFolder}/build/html",
    "esbonio.sphinx.confDir"  : "${workspaceFolder}/source",
    "esbonio.sphinx.srcDir"   : "${workspaceFolder}"
} Path#


For release 68.0.0 and above, this option is maintained automatically by the extension in most cases, so you don’t need to modify it unless really necessary.

The meaning of this setting also changes. Now it stores the active preview option for the workspace/folder.

  • If it is "", then docutils is used to render the preview page.

  • If it is a valid folder, then from that folder is used by Esbonio to render the preview page.

  • If it is not set, then this extension shows a list of options before generating a preview page.

It is not recommended to use docutils, as it does not understand Sphinx specific features, and the preview pages can look differently.

This extension relies on Sphinx to generate preview pages.

Usually when a Sphinx project is opened, is located at the root in Explorer folder, and that’s the default value ${workspaceFolder} of esbonio.sphinx.confDir.

If you have at another location, then esbonio.sphinx.confDir should point to the proper path, such as ${workspaceFolder}/source.


This should be an absolute path.

Source Path (172.0.0 and above)#

The value for esbonio.sphinx.srcDir is only useful when the root directory of source files does not match esbonio.sphinx.confDir.


This should be an absolute path. If you don’t set this setting, the value of esbonio.sphinx.confDir is used instead.


The linter support is based on rstcheck, doc8, and rst-lint.

Linting is automatically enabled if the linters are installed. The linters scan the opened files and highlight those lines with issues detected. The PROBLEMS tab should also show all issues detected for easy navigation.

Executable Path#

To override automatic detection of linter modules, the following settings can be used,

    "restructuredtext.linter.doc8.executablePath": "PathToExecutable",
    "restructuredtext.linter.rstcheck.executablePath": "PathToExecutable",
    "restructuredtext.linter.rst-lint.executablePath": "PathToExecutable"


The values should be absolute paths.


Linters can be disabled via the new setting, restructuredtext.linter.disabledLinters.


Old settings below are obsolete since release 178.0.0,

  • restructuredtext.linter.disabled


  • restructuredtext.linter.executablePath

  • restructuredtext.linter.extraArgs

Lint onType or onSave or not at all#

By default the linter will lint on the fly but can be changed to linting as you save. Note that linting on save is most useful when auto-save is on. Use the setting below if to change the behavior with the values onType, onSave, and off,

    "": "onType"

Linter rstchck Settings#

To be added.

Linter doc8 Settings#

You can configure doc8 using an ini file. Specify the location of the ini file in settings.json as extra args.

  "restructuredtext.linter.doc8.extraArgs": [


This should be an absolute path.


This extension runs a few third-party command-line tools found from the locations determined by the settings such as restructuredtext.linter.doc8.executablePath. Configuring them in workspace settings allows users to conveniently select a different set of tools based on project’s need, but also allows attackers to run arbitrary binaries on your machine if they successfully convince you to open a random repository. In order to reduce the security risk, the extension reads those settings from user settings by default. If the repository can be trusted and workspace settings must be used, you can mark the workspace as a trusted workspace using the “reStructuredText: Toggle Workspace Trust Flag” command.