Description templates

We all know that a properly submitted issue is more likely to be addressed in a timely manner by the developers of a project.

With description templates, you can define context-specific templates for issue and merge request description fields for your project, and filter out unnecessary noise from issues.

By using the description templates, users that create a new issue or merge request can select a description template to help them communicate with other contributors effectively.

Every GitLab project can define its own set of description templates as they are added to the root directory of a GitLab project’s repository.

Description templates must be written in Markdown and stored in your project’s repository in the .gitlab directory. Only the templates of the default branch are taken into account.

To learn how to create templates for various file types in groups, visit Group file templates.

Use cases

These are some situations when you might find description templates useful:

  • You can create issues and merge request templates for different stages of your workflow, for example, feature proposal, feature improvement, or a bug report.
  • Add a template to be used in every issue for a specific project, giving instructions and guidelines, requiring for information specific to that subject. For example, if you have a project for tracking new blog posts, you can require the title, outlines, author name, and author social media information.
  • Following the previous example, you can make a template for every MR submitted with a new blog post, requiring information about the post date, front matter data, images guidelines, link to the related issue, reviewer name, and so on.
  • You can also create issues and merge request templates for different stages of your workflow, for example, feature proposal, feature improvement, or a bug report.
  • You can use an issue description template as a Service Desk email template.

Create an issue template

Create a new Markdown (.md) file inside the .gitlab/issue_templates/ directory in your repository. Commit and push to your default branch.

To create a Markdown file:

  1. Click the + button next to master and click New file.
  2. Add the name of your issue template to the File name text field next to master. Make sure that your file has the .md extension, for example feature_request.md or Feature Request.md.
  3. Commit and push to your default branch.

If you don’t have a .gitlab/issue_templates directory in your repository, you need to create it.

To create the .gitlab/issue_templates directory:

  1. Click the + button next to master and select New directory.
  2. Name this new directory .gitlab and commit to your default branch.
  3. Click the + button next to master again and select New directory.
  4. Name your directory issue_templates and commit to your default branch.

To check if this has worked correctly, create a new issue and see if you can choose a description template.

Create a merge request template

Similarly to issue templates, create a new Markdown (.md) file inside the .gitlab/merge_request_templates/ directory in your repository. Commit and push to your default branch.

Use the templates

Let’s take for example that you’ve created the file .gitlab/issue_templates/Bug.md. This enables the Bug dropdown option when creating or editing issues. When Bug is selected, the content from the Bug.md template file is copied to the issue description field. The Reset template button discards any changes you made after picking the template and returns it to its initial status.

noteYou can create shortcut links to create an issue using a designated template. For example: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/issues/new?issuable_template=Feature%20proposal.

Description templates

Set an issue and merge request description template at group level

Version history

Templates can be useful because you can create a template once and use it multiple times. To re-use templates you’ve created:

  1. Go to the group’s Settings > General > Templates.
  2. From the dropdown, select your template project as the template repository at group level.

Group template settings

Set an issue and merge request description template at instance level

Version history

Similar to group templates, issue and merge request templates can also be set up at the instance level. This results in those templates being available in all projects within the instance. Only instance administrators can set instance-level templates.

To set the instance-level description template repository:

  1. Select the Admin Area icon ().
  2. Go to Settings > Templates.
  3. From the dropdown, select your template project as the template repository at instance level.

Learn more about instance template repository.

Setting templates in the Admin Area

Set a default template for merge requests and issues

The visibility of issues or merge requests should be set to either “Everyone with access” or “Only Project Members” in your project’s Settings / Visibility, project features, permissions section, otherwise the template text areas don’t show. This is the default behavior, so in most cases you should be fine.

To set a default description template for merge requests:

  1. Go to your project’s Settings.
  2. Select Expand under the Merge requests header.
  3. Fill in the Default description template for merge requests text area.
  4. Select Save changes.

To set a default description template for issues:

  1. Select Expand under Default issue template.
  2. Fill in the Default description template for issues text area.

Because GitLab merge request and issues support Markdown, you can use it to format headings, lists, and so on.

Now, every time a new merge request or issue is created, it’s pre-filled with the text you entered in the templates.

GitLab versions 13.10 and later provide issues_template and merge_requests_template attributes in the Projects API to help you keep your templates up to date.

Description template example

We use description templates for issues and merge requests in the .gitlab folder of the GitLab project, which you can refer to for some examples.

noteIt’s possible to use quick actions in description templates to quickly add labels, assignees, and milestones. The quick actions are only executed if the user submitting the issue or merge request has the permissions to perform the relevant actions.

Here is an example of a bug report template:

## Summary

(Summarize the bug encountered concisely)

## Steps to reproduce

(How one can reproduce the issue - this is very important)

## Example Project

(If possible, please create an example project here on GitLab.com that exhibits the problematic
behavior, and link to it here in the bug report.
If you are using an older version of GitLab, this will also determine whether the bug has been fixed
in a more recent version)

## What is the current bug behavior?

(What actually happens)

## What is the expected correct behavior?

(What you should see instead)

## Relevant logs and/or screenshots

(Paste any relevant logs - please use code blocks (```) to format console output, logs, and code, as
it's very hard to read otherwise.)

## Possible fixes

(If you can, link to the line of code that might be responsible for the problem)

/label ~bug ~reproduced ~needs-investigation
/cc @project-manager
/assign @qa-tester

Enable or disable issue and merge request description templates at group and instance level

Setting issue and merge request description templates at group and instance levels is under development and not ready for production use. It is deployed behind a feature flag that is disabled by default. GitLab administrators with access to the GitLab Rails console can enable it.

To enable it:

Feature.enable(:inherited_issuable_templates)

To disable it:

Feature.disable(:inherited_issuable_templates)

The feature flag affects these features:

  • Setting a templates project as issue and merge request description templates source at group level.
  • Setting a templates project as issue and merge request description templates source at instance level.