Free Format

Free format COBOL is selected using the SOURCEFORMAT"FREE" directive.

The first six characters are considered part of the normal source line and may contain COBOL source code. Column 1 takes the role of the indicator area as follows:

* comment line
/ comment line starting on a new page in the listing file
D or d followed by space, debugging line
$ special line (for example, directive, conditional compilation)
any other character normal source line

There are no continuation lines. Continuation of alphanumeric literals is achieved through concatenation (for example, "A" & "B").

There is no distinction between area A and area B.

There is no fixed right margin, though for practical purposes this implementation restricts the maximum length of a source line to 256 bytes of source when represented in UTF8 encoding.

Comment-entries are only allowed on the same line as the paragraph header and must not continue onto another line.