When Do You Use Git Rebase Instead of Git Merge?

Better Stack Team
Updated on June 24, 2024

You would typically use git rebase instead of git merge in the following scenarios:

Maintaining a Clean and Linear History:

If you want to keep a clean and linear commit history without unnecessary merge commits, git rebase can be useful. Rebase allows you to incorporate changes from one branch onto another by applying each commit from the source branch onto the target branch one by one, resulting in a linear history.

Integration with Upstream Changes:

When working with feature branches that are based on a long-lived branch (such as master), rebasing your feature branch onto the latest changes in the upstream branch can help integrate your changes more smoothly. This ensures that your feature branch remains up to date with the latest changes in the main branch and reduces the likelihood of conflicts during merging.

Squashing or Rewriting Commits:

Rebase allows you to squash, edit, or reorder commits before integrating them into the target branch. This can help clean up your commit history and make it more organized and easier to understand.

Avoiding Merge Commits:

If you prefer to avoid creating merge commits in your repository's history, especially for feature branches with short-lived changes, rebasing can be a cleaner alternative. It incorporates the changes from the source branch directly onto the target branch, avoiding the creation of additional merge commits.

Contributing to Open Source Projects:

When contributing to open-source projects, maintainers often prefer rebased branches over merged branches to keep the commit history clean and easy to review. Rebasing your changes onto the latest upstream changes helps ensure that your pull request can be merged cleanly.


  • While git rebase can provide a cleaner commit history, it rewrites commit history, which can lead to complications if used incorrectly or when working in a collaborative environment. Use it with caution, especially when rebasing branches that are shared with others.
  • git merge is generally more appropriate for merging branches when preserving the original commit history or when merging feature branches with a longer lifespan.
  • Both git merge and git rebase have their use cases, and the choice between them depends on your workflow preferences and the specific requirements of your project.
Got an article suggestion? Let us know
Licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Make your mark

Join the writer's program

Are you a developer and love writing and sharing your knowledge with the world? Join our guest writing program and get paid for writing amazing technical guides. We'll get them to the right readers that will appreciate them.

Write for us
Writer of the month
Marin Bezhanov
Marin is a software engineer and architect with a broad range of experience working...
Build on top of Better Stack

Write a script, app or project on top of Better Stack and share it with the world. Make a public repository and share it with us at our email.


or submit a pull request and help us build better products for everyone.

See the full list of amazing projects on github