What #[derive(Display)] generates

NB: These derives are fully backward-compatible with the ones from the display_derive crate.

Deriving Display will generate a Display implementation, with a fmt method that matches self and each of its variants. In the case of a struct or union, only a single variant is available, and it is thus equivalent to a simple let statement. In the case of an enum, each of its variants is matched.

For each matched variant, a write! expression will be generated with the supplied format, or an automatically inferred one.

You specify the format on each variant by writing e.g. #[display(fmt = "my val: {}", "some_val * 2")]. For enums, you can either specify it on each variant, or on the enum as a whole.

For variants that don’t have a format specified, it will simply defer to the format of the inner variable. If there is no such variable, or there is more than 1, an error is generated.

1 The format of the format

You supply a format by attaching an attribute of the syntax: #[display(fmt = "...", args...)]. The format supplied is passed verbatim to write!. The arguments supplied handled specially, due to constraints in the syntax of attributes. In the case of an argument being a simple identifier, it is passed verbatim. If an argument is a string, it is parsed as an expression, and then passed to write!.

The variables available in the arguments is self and each member of the variant, with members of tuple structs being named with a leading underscore and their index, i.e. _0, _1, _2, etc.

1.1 Other formatting traits

The syntax does not change, but the name of the attribute is the snake case version of the trait. E.g. Octal -> octal, Pointer -> pointer, UpperHex -> upper_hex.

2 Generic data types

When deriving Display (or other formatting trait) for a generic struct/enum, all generic type arguments used during formatting are bound by respective formatting trait.

E.g., for a structure Foo defined like this:

#[display(fmt = "{} {} {:?} {:p}", a, b, c, d)]
struct Foo<'a, T1, T2: Trait, T3> {
    a: T1,
    b: <T2 as Trait>::Type,
    c: Vec<T3>,
    d: &'a T1,

The following where clauses would be generated:

2.1 Custom trait bounds

Sometimes you may want to specify additional trait bounds on your generic type parameters, so that they could be used during formatting. This can be done with a #[display(bound = "...")] attribute.

#[display(bound = "...")] accepts a single string argument in a format similar to the format used in angle bracket list: T: MyTrait, U: Trait1 + Trait2.

Only type parameters defined on a struct allowed to appear in bound-string and they can only be bound by traits, i.e. no lifetime parameters or lifetime bounds allowed in bound-string.

As double-quote fmt arguments are parsed as an arbitrary Rust expression and passed to generated write! as-is, it’s impossible to meaningfully infer any kind of trait bounds for generic type parameters used this way. That means that you’ll have to explicitly specify all trait bound used. Either in the struct/enum definition, or via #[display(bound = "...")] attribute.

Note how we have to bound U and V by Display in the following example, as no bound is inferred. Not even Display.

Also note, that "c" case is just a curious example. Bound inference works as expected if you simply write c without double-quotes.

#[display(bound = "T: MyTrait, U: Display, V: Display")]
#[display(fmt = "{} {} {}", "a.my_function()", "b.to_string().len()", "c")]
struct MyStruct<T, U, V> {
    a: T,
    b: U,
    c: V,

3 Example usage

use std::path::PathBuf;

struct MyInt(i32);

#[display(fmt = "({}, {})", x, y)]
struct Point2D {
    x: i32,
    y: i32,

enum E {
    #[display(fmt = "I am B {:b}", i)]
    Binary {
        i: i8,
    #[display(fmt = "I am C {}", "_0.display()")]

#[display(fmt = "Java EE: {}")]
enum EE {

#[display(fmt = "Hello there!")]
union U {
    i: u32,

#[octal(fmt = "7")]
struct S;

#[upper_hex(fmt = "UpperHex")]
struct UH;

struct Unit;

struct UnitStruct {}

#[display(fmt = "{}", "self.sign()")]
struct PositiveOrNegative {
    x: i32,

impl PositiveOrNegative {
    fn sign(&self) -> &str {
        if self.x >= 0 {
        } else {

fn main() {
    assert_eq!(MyInt(-2).to_string(), "-2");
    assert_eq!(Point2D { x: 3, y: 4 }.to_string(), "(3, 4)");
    assert_eq!(E::Uint(2).to_string(), "2");
    assert_eq!(E::Binary { i: -2 }.to_string(), "I am B 11111110");
    assert_eq!(E::Path("abc".into()).to_string(), "I am C abc");
    assert_eq!(EE::A.to_string(), "Java EE: A");
    assert_eq!(EE::B.to_string(), "Java EE: B");
    assert_eq!(U { i: 2 }.to_string(), "Hello there!");
    assert_eq!(format!("{:o}", S), "7");
    assert_eq!(format!("{:X}", UH), "UpperHex");
    assert_eq!(Unit.to_string(), "Unit");
    assert_eq!(UnitStruct {}.to_string(), "UnitStruct");
    assert_eq!(PositiveOrNegative { x: 1 }.to_string(), "Positive");
    assert_eq!(PositiveOrNegative { x: -1 }.to_string(), "Negative");