Documentation Style Guide

This document defines the standards for GitLab documentation, including grammar, formatting, word use, and more.

For style questions, mention @tw-style in an issue or merge request. If you have access to the GitLab Slack workspace, use the #docs-processes channel.

In addition to this page, the following resources can help you craft and contribute to documentation:

Documentation is the single source of truth (SSOT)

The GitLab documentation is the SSOT for all information related to GitLab implementation, usage, and troubleshooting. It evolves continuously, in keeping with new products and features, and with improvements for clarity, accuracy, and completeness.

This policy prevents information silos, making it easier to find information about GitLab products.

It also informs decisions about the kinds of content we include in our documentation.

The documentation includes all information

Include problem-solving actions that may address rare cases or be considered risky, but provide proper context through fully-detailed warnings and caveats. This kind of content should be included as it could be helpful to others and, when properly explained, its benefits outweigh the risks. If you think you have found an exception to this rule, contact the Technical Writing team.

GitLab adds all troubleshooting information to the documentation, no matter how unlikely a user is to encounter a situation.

GitLab Support maintains their own troubleshooting content in the GitLab documentation.

The documentation includes all media types

Include any media types/sources if the content is relevant to readers. You can freely include or link presentations, diagrams, and videos. No matter who it was originally composed for, if it is helpful to any of our audiences, we can include it.

  • If you use an image that has a separate source file (for example, a vector or diagram format), link the image to the source file so that it may be reused or updated by anyone.
  • Do not copy and paste content from other sources unless it is a limited quotation with the source cited. Typically it is better to either rephrase relevant information in your own words or link out to the other source.

Topic types

In the software industry, it is a best practice to organize documentation in different types. For example:

  • Concepts
  • Tasks
  • Reference
  • Troubleshooting

At GitLab, we have not traditionally used topic types. However, we are starting to move in this direction, so we can address these issues:

  • Content is hard to find. Our docs are comprehensive and include a large amount of useful information. Topic types create repeatable patterns that make our content easier to scan and parse.
  • Content is often written from the contributor’s point of view. Our docs are written by contributors. Topic types (tasks specifically) help put information into a format that is geared toward helping others, rather than documenting how a feature was implemented.

GitLab uses these topic type templates.

Rather than repeating information from another topic, link to the single source of truth and explain why it is important.

Docs-first methodology

We employ a documentation-first methodology. This method ensures the documentation remains a complete and trusted resource, and makes communicating about the use of GitLab more efficient.

  • If the answer to a question exists in documentation, share the link to the documentation instead of rephrasing the information.
  • When you encounter new information not available in GitLab documentation (for example, when working on a support case or testing a feature), your first step should be to create a merge request (MR) to add this information to the documentation. You can then share the MR to communicate this information.

New information that would be useful toward the future usage or troubleshooting of GitLab should not be written directly in a forum or other messaging system, but added to a documentation MR and then referenced, as described above.

The more we reflexively add information to the documentation, the more the documentation helps others efficiently accomplish tasks and solve problems.

If you have questions when considering, authoring, or editing documentation, ask the Technical Writing team. They’re available on Slack in #docs or in GitLab by mentioning the writer for the applicable DevOps stage. Otherwise, forge ahead with your best effort. It does not need to be perfect; the team is happy to review and improve upon your content. Review the Documentation guidelines before you begin your first documentation MR.

Maintaining a knowledge base separate from the documentation would be against the documentation-first methodology, because the content would overlap with the documentation.


All GitLab documentation is written using Markdown.

The documentation website uses GitLab Kramdown as its Markdown rendering engine. For a complete Kramdown reference, see the GitLab Markdown Kramdown Guide.

The gitlab-kramdown Ruby gem plans to support all GitLab Flavored Markdown in the future, which is all Markdown supported for display in the GitLab application itself. For now, use regular Markdown and follow the rules in the linked style guide.

Kramdown-specific markup (for example, {:.class}) doesn’t render properly on GitLab instances under /help.

HTML in Markdown

Hard-coded HTML is valid, although it’s discouraged from being used while we have /help. HTML is permitted if:

  • There’s no equivalent markup in Markdown.
  • Advanced tables are necessary.
  • Special styling is required.
  • Reviewed and approved by a technical writer.

Markdown Rules

GitLab ensures that the Markdown used across all documentation is consistent, as well as easy to review and maintain, by testing documentation changes with markdownlint. This lint test fails when any document has an issue with Markdown formatting that may cause the page to render incorrectly in GitLab. It also fails when a document has non-standard Markdown (which may render correctly, but is not the current standard for GitLab documentation).

Markdown rule MD044/proper-names (capitalization)

A rule that could cause confusion is MD044/proper-names, as it might not be immediately clear what caused markdownlint to fail, or how to correct the failure. This rule checks a list of known words, listed in the .markdownlint.yml file in each project, to verify proper use of capitalization and backticks. Words in backticks are ignored by markdownlint.

In general, product names should follow the exact capitalization of the official names of the products, protocols, and so on.

Some examples fail if incorrect capitalization is used:

  • MinIO (needs capital IO)
  • NGINX (needs all capitals)
  • runit (needs lowercase r)

Additionally, commands, parameters, values, filenames, and so on must be included in backticks. For example:

  • “Change the needs keyword in your .gitlab-ci.yml…”
    • needs is a parameter, and .gitlab-ci.yml is a file, so both need backticks. Additionally, .gitlab-ci.yml without backticks fails markdownlint because it does not have capital G or L.
  • “Run git clone to clone a Git repository…”
    • git clone is a command, so it must be lowercase, while Git is the product, so it must have a capital G.


We include concept and task topic types in the same larger topic.

In general, we have one topic that’s a landing page. Below that topic in the left nav are individual topics. Each of these include a concept and multiple related tasks, reference, and troubleshooting topics.

Folder structure overview

The documentation is separated by top-level audience folders user, administration, and development (contributing) folders.

Beyond that, we primarily follow the structure of the GitLab user interface or API.

Our goal is to have a clear hierarchical structure with meaningful URLs like With this pattern, you can immediately tell that you are navigating to user-related documentation about Project features; specifically about Merge Requests. Our site’s paths match those of our repository, so the clear structure also makes documentation easier to update.

Put files for a specific product area into the related folder:

Directory What belongs here
doc/user/ User related documentation. Anything that can be done in the GitLab user interface goes here, including usage of the /admin interface.
doc/administration/ Documentation that requires the user to have access to the server where GitLab is installed. Administrator settings in the GitLab user interface are under doc/user/admin_area/.
doc/api/ API-related documentation.
doc/development/ Documentation related to the development of GitLab, whether contributing code or documentation. Related process and style guides should go here.
doc/legal/ Legal documents about contributing to GitLab.
doc/install/ Contains instructions for installing GitLab.
doc/update/ Contains instructions for updating GitLab.
doc/topics/ Indexes per topic (doc/topics/topic_name/ all resources for that topic.

Work with directories and files

When working with directories and files:

  1. When you create a new directory, always start with an file. Don’t use another filename and do not create files.
  2. Do not use special characters and spaces, or capital letters in file names, directory names, branch names, and anything that generates a path.
  3. When creating or renaming a file or directory and it has more than one word in its name, use underscores (_) instead of spaces or dashes. For example, proper naming would be import_project/ This applies to both image files and Markdown files.
  4. For image files, do not exceed 100KB.
  5. Do not upload video files to the product repositories. Link or embed videos instead.
  6. There are four main directories: user, administration, api, and development.
  7. The doc/user/ directory has five main subdirectories: project/, group/, profile/, dashboard/ and admin_area/.
    • doc/user/project/ should contain all project related documentation.
    • doc/user/group/ should contain all group related documentation.
    • doc/user/profile/ should contain all profile related documentation. Every page you would navigate under /profile should have its own document, for example,,, or
    • doc/user/dashboard/ should contain all dashboard related documentation.
    • doc/user/admin_area/ should contain all administrator-related documentation describing what can be achieved by accessing the GitLab administrator interface (not to be confused with doc/administration where server access is required).
      • Every category under /admin/application_settings/ should have its own document located at doc/user/admin_area/settings/. For example, the Visibility and Access Controls category should have a document located at doc/user/admin_area/settings/
  8. The doc/topics/ directory holds topic-related technical content. Create doc/topics/topic_name/subtopic_name/ when subtopics become necessary. General user and administrator documentation should be placed accordingly.
  9. The /university/ directory is deprecated and the majority of its documentation has been moved.

If you’re unsure where to place a document or a content addition, this shouldn’t stop you from authoring and contributing. Use your best judgment, and then ask the reviewer of your MR to confirm your decision. You can also ask a technical writer at any stage in the process. The technical writing team reviews all documentation changes, regardless, and can move content if there is a better place for it.

Avoid duplication

Do not include the same information in multiple places. Link to a single source of truth instead.

References across documents

  • Give each folder an page that introduces the topic, and both introduces and links to the child pages, including to the index pages of any next-level sub-paths.
  • To ensure discoverability, ensure each new or renamed doc is linked from its higher-level index page and other related pages.
  • When making reference to other GitLab products and features, link to their respective documentation, at least on first mention.
  • When making reference to third-party products or technologies, link out to their external sites, documentation, and resources.

Structure in documents

  • Include any and all applicable subsections as described on the structure and template page.
  • Structure content in alphabetical order in tables, lists, and so on, unless there’s a logical reason not to (for example, when mirroring the user interface or an otherwise ordered sequence).


GitLab documentation should be clear and easy to understand.

  • Be clear, concise, and stick to the goal of the documentation.
  • Write in US English with US grammar. (Tested in British.yml.)
  • Use inclusive language.


Only use the GitLab name and trademarks in accordance with GitLab Brand Guidelines.

Don’t use the possessive form of the word GitLab (GitLab's).



Use sentence case. For example:

  • # Use variables to configure pipelines
  • ## Use the To-Do List

UI text

When referring to specific user interface text, like a button label or menu item, use the same capitalization that’s displayed in the user interface. Standards for this content are listed in the Pajamas Design System Content section and typically match what’s called for in this Documentation Style Guide.

If you think the user interface text contains style mistakes, create an issue or an MR to propose a change to the user interface text.

Feature names

  • Feature names are typically lowercase, like those describing actions and types of objects in GitLab. For example:
    • epics
    • issues
    • issue weights
    • merge requests
    • milestones
    • reorder issues
    • runner, runners, shared runners
    • a to-do item (tested in ToDo.yml)
  • Some features are capitalized, typically nouns naming GitLab-specific capabilities or tools. For example:
    • GitLab CI/CD
    • Repository Mirroring
    • Value Stream Analytics
    • the To-Do List
    • the Web IDE
    • Geo
    • GitLab Runner (see this issue for details)

Document any exceptions in this style guide. If you’re not sure, ask a GitLab Technical Writer so that they can help decide and document the result.

Do not match the capitalization of terms or phrases on the Features page or features.yml by default.

Other terms

Capitalize names of:

  • GitLab product tiers. For example, GitLab Free and GitLab Ultimate. (Tested in BadgeCapitalization.yml.)
  • Third-party organizations, software, and products. For example, Prometheus, Kubernetes, Git, and The Linux Foundation.
  • Methods or methodologies. For example, Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, Scrum, and Agile.

Follow the capitalization style listed at the authoritative source for the entity, which may use non-standard case styles. For example: GitLab and npm.

Use forms of sign in, instead of log in or login. For example:

  • Sign in to GitLab.
  • Open the sign-in page.

Exceptions to this rule include the concept of single sign-on and references to user interface elements. For example:

  • To sign in to product X, enter your credentials, and then select Log in.

Inclusive language

We strive to create documentation that’s inclusive. This section includes guidance and examples for these categories:

We write our developer documentation with inclusivity and diversity in mind. This page is not an exhaustive reference, but describes some general guidelines and examples that illustrate some best practices to follow.

Avoid gender-specific wording

When possible, use gender-neutral pronouns. For example, you can use a singular they as a gender-neutral pronoun.

Avoid the use of gender-specific pronouns, unless referring to a specific person.

Use Avoid
People, humanity Mankind
GitLab Team Members Manpower
You can install; They can install He can install; She can install

If you need to set up Fake user information, use diverse or non-gendered names with common surnames.

Avoid ableist language

Avoid terms that are also used in negative stereotypes for different groups.

Use Avoid
Check for completeness Sanity check
Uncertain outliers Crazy outliers
Slows the service Cripples the service
Placeholder variable Dummy variable
Active/Inactive Enabled/Disabled
On/Off Enabled/Disabled

Credit: Avoid ableist language in the Google Developer Style Guide.

Culturally sensitive language

Avoid terms that reflect negative cultural stereotypes and history. In most cases, you can replace terms such as master and slave with terms that are more precise and functional, such as primary and secondary.

Use Avoid
Primary / secondary Master / slave
Allowlist / denylist Blacklist / whitelist

For more information see the Internet Draft specification.

Fake user information

You may need to include user information in entries such as a REST call or user profile. Do not use real user information or email addresses in GitLab documentation. For email addresses and names, do use:

  • Email addresses: Use an email address ending in
  • Names: Use strings like example_username. Alternatively, use diverse or non-gendered names with common surnames, such as Sidney Jones, Zhang Wei, or Alex Garcia.

Fake URLs

When including sample URLs in the documentation, use:

  • when the domain name is generic.
  • when referring only to self-managed GitLab instances. Use for GitLab SaaS instances.

Fake tokens

There may be times where a token is needed to demonstrate an API call using cURL or a variable used in CI. It is strongly advised not to use real tokens in documentation even if the probability of a token being exploited is low.

You can use these fake tokens as examples:

Token type Token value
Personal access token <your_access_token>
Application ID 2fcb195768c39e9a94cec2c2e32c59c0aad7a3365c10892e8116b5d83d4096b6
Application secret 04f294d1eaca42b8692017b426d53bbc8fe75f827734f0260710b83a556082df
CI/CD variable Li8j-mLUVA3eZYjPfd_H
Specific runner token yrnZW46BrtBFqM7xDzE7dddd
Shared runner token 6Vk7ZsosqQyfreAxXTZr
Trigger token be20d8dcc028677c931e04f3871a9b
Webhook secret token 6XhDroRcYPM5by_h-HLY
Health check token Tu7BgjR9qeZTEyRzGG2P
Request profile token 7VgpS4Ax5utVD2esNstz

Usage list

Usage Guidance
above Try to avoid extra words when referring to an example or table in a documentation page, but if required, use previously instead.
admin, admin area Use administration, administrator, administer, or Admin Area instead. (Vale rule: Admin.yml)
allow, enable Try to avoid, unless you are talking about security-related features. For example, instead of “This feature allows you to create a pipeline,” use “Use this feature to create a pipeline.” This phrasing is more active and is from the user perspective, rather than the person who implemented the feature. View details.
and/or Use or instead, or another sensible construction.
below Try to avoid extra words when referring to an example or table in a documentation page, but if required, use following instead.
currently Do not use when talking about the product or its features. The documentation describes the product as it is today. (Vale rule: CurrentStatus.yml)
easily Do not use. If the user doesn’t find the process to be these things, we lose their trust.
e.g. Do not use Latin abbreviations. Use for example, such as, for instance, or like instead. (Vale rule: LatinTerms.yml)
future tense When possible, use present tense instead. For example, use after you execute this command, GitLab displays the result instead of after you execute this command, GitLab will display the result. (Vale rule: FutureTense.yml)
handy Do not use. If the user doesn’t find the process to be these things, we lose their trust.
high availability, HA Do not use. Instead, direct readers to the GitLab reference architectures for information about configuring GitLab for handling greater amounts of users.
I Do not use first-person singular. Use you, we, or us instead. (Vale rule: FirstPerson.yml)
i.e. Do not use Latin abbreviations. Use that is instead. (Vale rule: LatinTerms.yml)
jargon Do not use. Define the term or link to a definition.
may, might Might means something has the probability of occurring. May gives permission to do something. Consider can instead of may.
me, myself, mine Do not use first-person singular. Use you, we, or us instead. (Vale rule: FirstPerson.yml)
please Do not use. For details, see the Microsoft style guide.
profanity Do not use. Doing so may negatively affect other users and contributors, which is contrary to the GitLab value of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.
scalability Do not use when talking about increasing GitLab performance for additional users. The words scale or scaling are sometimes acceptable, but references to increasing GitLab performance for additional users should direct readers to the GitLab reference architectures page.
simply Do not use. If the user doesn’t find the process to be these things, we lose their trust.
slashes Instead of and/or, use or or another sensible construction. This rule also applies to other slashes, like follow/unfollow. Some exceptions (like CI/CD) are allowed.
subgroup Use instead of sub-group.
that Do not use. Example: the file that you save can be the file you save.
useful Do not use. If the user doesn’t find the process to be these things, we lose their trust.
utilize Do not use. Use use instead. It’s more succinct and easier for non-native English speakers to understand.
via Do not use Latin abbreviations. Use with, through, or by using instead. (Vale rule: LatinTerms.yml)


Contractions are encouraged, and can create a friendly and informal tone, especially in tutorials, instructional documentation, and user interfaces.

Some contractions, however, should be avoided:

  • Do not use the word GitLab in a contraction.

  • Do not use contractions with a proper noun and a verb. For example:

    Do Don’t
    Canada is establishing X. Canada’s establishing X.
  • Do not use contractions when you need to emphasize a negative. For example:

    Do Don’t
    Do not install X with Y. Don’t install X with Y.
  • Do not use contractions in reference documentation. For example:

    Do Don’t
    Do not set a limit greater than 1000. Don’t set a limit greater than 1000.
    For parameter1, the default is 10. For parameter1, the default’s 10.
  • Avoid contractions in error messages. Examples:

    Do Don’t
    Requests to localhost are not allowed. Requests to localhost aren’t allowed.
    Specified URL cannot be used. Specified URL can’t be used.


  • Write in Markdown.
  • Splitting long lines (preferably up to 100 characters) can make it easier to provide feedback on small chunks of text.
  • Insert an empty line for new paragraphs.
  • Insert an empty line between different markups (for example, after every paragraph, header, list, and so on). Example:

    ## Header
    - List item 1
    - List item 2


  • Use double asterisks (**) to mark a word or text in bold (**bold**).
  • Use underscore (_) for text in italics (_italic_).
  • Use greater than (>) for blockquotes.


Follow these guidelines for punctuation:

Rule Example
Avoid semicolons. Use two sentences instead. That’s the way that the world goes ‘round. You’re up one day and the next you’re down.
Always end full sentences with a period. For a complete overview, read through this document.
Always add a space after a period when beginning a new sentence. For a complete overview, check this doc. For other references, check out this guide.
Do not use double spaces. (Tested in SentenceSpacing.yml.)
Do not use tabs for indentation. Use spaces instead. You can configure your code editor to output spaces instead of tabs when pressing the tab key.
Use serial commas (Oxford commas) before the final and or or in a list of three or more items. (Tested in OxfordComma.yml.) You can create new issues, merge requests, and milestones.
Always add a space before and after dashes when using it in a sentence (for replacing a comma, for example). You should try this - or not.
Always use lowercase after a colon. Linked issues: a way to create a relationship between issues._

Placeholder text

You might want to provide a command or configuration that uses specific values.

In these cases, use < and > to call out where a reader must replace text with their own value.

For example:

cp <your_source_directory> <your_destination_directory>

Keyboard commands

Use the HTML <kbd> tag when referring to keystroke presses. For example:

To stop the command, press <kbd>Control</kbd>+<kbd>C</kbd>.

When the docs are generated, the output is:

To stop the command, press Control+C.

Spaces between words

Use only standard spaces between words. The search engine for the documentation website doesn’t split words separated with non-breaking spaces when indexing, and fails to create expected individual search terms. Tests that search for certain words separated by regular spaces can’t find words separated by non-breaking spaces.

Tested in


  • Always start list items with a capital letter, unless they’re parameters or commands that are in backticks, or similar.
  • Always leave a blank line before and after a list.
  • Begin a line with spaces (not tabs) to denote a nested sub-item.

Ordered vs. unordered lists

Only use ordered lists when their items describe a sequence of steps to follow.


These are the steps to do something:

1. First, do the first step.
1. Then, do the next step.
1. Finally, do the last step.


This is a list of available features:

1. Feature 1
1. Feature 2
1. Feature 3


  • Use dashes (-) for unordered lists instead of asterisks (*).
  • Prefix 1. to every item in an ordered list. When rendered, the list items display with sequential numbering.


  • Don’t add commas (,) or semicolons (;) to the ends of list items.
  • Only add periods to the end of a list item if the item consists of a complete sentence (with a subject and a verb).
  • Be consistent throughout the list: if the majority of the items do not end in a period, do not end any of the items in a period, even if they consist of a complete sentence. The opposite is also valid: if the majority of the items end with a period, end all with a period.
  • Separate list items from explanatory text with a colon (:). For example:

    The list is as follows:
    - First item: this explains the first item.
    - Second item: this explains the second item.



  • First list item
  • Second list item
  • Third list item


  • First list item
  • Second list item
  • Third list item.


  • Let’s say this is a complete sentence.
  • Let’s say this is also a complete sentence.
  • Not a complete sentence.

Don’t (vary use of periods; majority rules):

  • Let’s say this is a complete sentence.
  • Let’s say this is also a complete sentence.
  • Not a complete sentence

Nesting inside a list item

It’s possible to nest items under a list item, so that they render with the same indentation as the list item. This can be done with:

Items nested in lists should always align with the first character of the list item. In unordered lists (using -), this means two spaces for each level of indentation:

- Unordered list item 1

  A line nested using 2 spaces to align with the `U` above.

- Unordered list item 2

  > A quote block that will nest
  > inside list item 2.

- Unordered list item 3

  a code block that nests inside list item 3

- Unordered list item 4

  ![an image that will nest inside list item 4](image.png)

For ordered lists, use three spaces for each level of indentation:

1. Ordered list item 1

   A line nested using 3 spaces to align with the `O` above.

1. Ordered list item 2

   > A quote block that will nest
   > inside list item 2.

1. Ordered list item 3

   a code block that nests inside list item 3

1. Ordered list item 4

   ![an image that will nest inside list item 4](image.png)

You can nest full lists inside other lists using the same rules as above. If you want to mix types, that’s also possible, if you don’t mix items at the same level:

1. Ordered list item one.
1. Ordered list item two.
   - Nested unordered list item one.
   - Nested unordered list item two.
1. Ordered list item three.

- Unordered list item one.
- Unordered list item two.
  1. Nested ordered list item one.
  1. Nested ordered list item two.
- Unordered list item three.


Tables should be used to describe complex information in a straightforward manner. Note that in many cases, an unordered list is sufficient to describe a list of items with a single, simple description per item. But, if you have data that’s best described by a matrix, tables are the best choice.

Creation guidelines

To keep tables accessible and scannable, tables should not have any empty cells. If there is no otherwise meaningful value for a cell, consider entering N/A (for ‘not applicable’) or none.

To help tables be easier to maintain, consider adding additional spaces to the column widths to make them consistent. For example:

| App name | Description          | Requirements   |
| App 1    | Description text 1.  | Requirements 1 |
| App 2    | Description text 2.  | None           |

Consider installing a plugin or extension in your editor for formatting tables:

Feature tables

When creating tables of lists of features (such the features available to each role on the Permissions page), use these phrases:

Option Markdown Displayed result
No **{dotted-circle}** No No
Yes **{check-circle}** Yes Yes


Valid for Markdown content only, not for front matter entries:

  • Standard quotes: double quotes ("). Example: “This is wrapped in double quotes”.
  • Quote inside a quote: double quotes (") wrap single quotes ('). Example: “This sentence ‘quotes’ something in a quote”.

For other punctuation rules, refer to the GitLab UX guide.


  • Add only one H1 in each document, by adding # at the beginning of it (when using Markdown). The h1 becomes the document <title>.
  • Start with an h2 (##), and respect the order h2 > h3 > h4 > h5 > h6. Never skip the hierarchy level, such as h2 > h4
  • Avoid putting numbers in headings. Numbers shift, hence documentation anchor links shift too, which eventually leads to dead links. If you think it is compelling to add numbers in headings, make sure to at least discuss it with someone in the Merge Request.
  • Avoid using symbols and special characters in headers. Whenever possible, they should be plain and short text.
  • When possible, avoid including words that might change in the future. Changing a heading changes its anchor URL, which affects other linked pages.
  • When introducing a new document, be careful for the headings to be grammatically and syntactically correct. Mention an assigned technical writer (TW) for review. This is to ensure that no document with wrong heading is going live without an audit, thus preventing dead links and redirection issues when corrected.
  • Leave exactly one blank line before and after a heading.
  • Do not use links in headings.
  • Add the corresponding product badge according to the tier the feature belongs.
  • Our documentation site search engine prioritizes words used in headings and subheadings. Make your subheading titles clear, descriptive, and complete to help users find the right example, as shown in the section on heading titles.
  • See Capitalization for guidelines on capitalizing headings.

Heading titles

Keep heading titles clear and direct. Make every word count. To accommodate search engine optimization (SEO), use the imperative, where possible.

Do Don’t
Configure GDK Configuring GDK
GitLab Release and Maintenance Policy This section covers the GitLab Release and Maintenance Policy
Backport to older releases Backporting to older releases
GitLab Pages examples Examples

For guidelines on capitalizing headings, see the section on capitalization.

noteIf you change an existing title, be careful. In-page anchor links, links in the GitLab application, and links from external sites can break.

Headings generate anchor links when rendered. ## This is an example generates the anchor #this-is-an-example.

noteIntroduced in GitLab 13.4, product badges used in headings aren’t included in the generated anchor links. For example, when you link to ## This is an example **(FREE)**, use the anchor #this-is-an-example.

Keep in mind that the GitLab user interface links to many documentation pages and anchor links to take the user to the right spot. When you change a heading, search doc/*, app/views/*, and ee/app/views/* for the old anchor. If you do not fix these links, the ui-docs-lint job in your merge request fails.


  • Avoid crosslinking documentation to headings unless you need to link to a specific section of the document. This avoids breaking anchors in the future in case the heading is changed.
  • If possible, avoid changing headings, because they’re not only linked internally. There are various links to GitLab documentation on the internet, such as tutorials, presentations, StackOverflow posts, and other sources.
  • Do not link to h1 headings.

Note that with Kramdown, it’s possible to add a custom ID to an HTML element with Markdown markup, but they don’t work in /help. Because of this, don’t use this option.

Links are important in GitLab documentation. Use links instead of summarizing to help preserve a single source of truth in GitLab documentation.

We include guidance for links in these categories:

  • Use inline link Markdown markup [Text]( It’s easier to read, review, and maintain. Do not use [Text][identifier].

  • Use meaningful anchor texts. For example, instead of writing something like Read more about GitLab Issue Boards [here](LINK), write Read more about [GitLab Issue Boards](LINK).

noteInternal refers to documentation in the same project. When linking to documentation in separate projects (for example, linking to Omnibus documentation from GitLab documentation), you must use absolute URLs.

Do not use absolute URLs like to cross-link to other documentation in the same project. Use relative links to the file, like ../ (These are converted to HTML when the site is rendered.)

Relative linking enables crosslinks to work:

  • in Review Apps, local previews, and /help.
  • when working on the documentation locally, so you can verify that they work as early as possible in the process.
  • in the GitLab user interface when browsing doc files in their respective repositories. For example, the links displayed at

To link to internal documentation:

  • Use relative links to Markdown files in the same repository.
  • Do not use absolute URLs or URLs from
  • Use ../ to navigate to higher-level directories.
  • Don’t prepend ./ to links to files or directories. To link to a file in the same directory or one of its sub-directories, use the syntax path/to/
  • Don’t link relative to root. For example, /ee/user/gitlab_com/


    • /ee/administration/geo/replication/
    • ./

    Do: ../../geo/replication/

  • Always add the filename at the end of the link with the .md extension, not .html.


    • ../../merge_requests/
    • ../../issues/tags.html
    • ../../issues/tags.html#stages


    • ../../merge_requests/
    • ../../issues/
    • ../../issues/
    • issues/
noteUsing the Markdown extension is necessary for the /help section of GitLab.

When describing interactions with external software, it’s often helpful to include links to external documentation. When possible, make sure that you’re linking to an authoritative source. For example, if you’re describing a feature in Microsoft’s Active Directory, include a link to official Microsoft documentation.

Authoritative sources

When citing external information, use sources that are written by the people who created the item or product in question. These sources are the most likely to be accurate and remain up to date.

Examples of authoritative sources include:

  • Specifications, such as a Request for Comments document from the Internet Engineering Task Force.
  • Official documentation for a product. For example, if you’re setting up an interface with the Google OAuth 2 authorization server, include a link to Google’s documentation.
  • Official documentation for a project. For example, if you’re citing NodeJS functionality, refer directly to NodeJS documentation.
  • Books from an authoritative publisher.

Examples of sources to avoid include:

  • Personal blog posts.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Non-trustworthy articles.
  • Discussions on forums such as Stack Overflow.
  • Documentation from a company that describes another company’s product.

While many of these sources to avoid can help you learn skills and or features, they can become obsolete quickly. Nobody is obliged to maintain any of these sites. Therefore, we should avoid using them as reference literature.

noteNon-authoritative sources are acceptable only if there is no equivalent authoritative source. Even then, focus on non-authoritative sources that are extensively cited or peer-reviewed.

Don’t link directly to:

These fail for:

  • Those without sufficient permissions.
  • Automated link checkers.


  • To reduce confusion, mention in the text that the information is either:
    • Contained in a confidential issue.
    • Requires special permission to a project to view.
  • Provide a link in back ticks (`) so that those with access to the issue can navigate to it.


For more information, see the [confidential issue](../../../user/project/issues/ `<issue_number>`.

When linking to specific lines in a file, link to a commit instead of to the branch. Lines of code change over time. Linking to a line by using the commit link ensures the user lands on the line you’re referring to. The Permalink button, displayed when viewing a file in a project, provides a link to the most recent commit of that file.

  • Do: [link to line 3](
  • Don’t: [link to line 3](

If that linked expression has changed line numbers due to additional commits, you can still search the file for that query. In this case, update the document to ensure it links to the most recent version of the file.

When documenting navigation through the user interface:

  • Use the exact wording as shown in the UI, including any capital letters as-is.
  • Use bold text for navigation items.

What to call the menus

Use these terms when referring to the main GitLab user interface elements:

  • Top menu: This is the top menu that spans the width of the user interface. It includes the GitLab logo, search field, counters, and the user’s avatar.
  • Left sidebar: This is the navigation sidebar on the left of the user interface, specific to the project or group.
  • Right sidebar: This is the navigation sidebar on the right of the user interface, specific to the open issue, merge request, or epic.

How to document the left sidebar

To be consistent, use this format when you refer to the left sidebar.

  • Go to your project and select Settings > CI/CD.
  • Go to your group and select Settings > CI/CD.
  • Go to the Admin Area () and select Overview > Projects.

For expandable menus, use this format:

  1. Go to your group and select Settings > CI/CD.
  2. Expand General pipelines.


Images, including screenshots, can help a reader better understand a concept. However, they can be hard to maintain, and should be used sparingly.

Before including an image in the documentation, ensure it provides value to the reader.

Capture the image

Use images to help the reader understand where they are in a process, or how they need to interact with the application.

When you take screenshots:

  • Capture the most relevant area of the page. Don’t include unnecessary white space or areas of the page that don’t help illustrate the point. The left sidebar of the GitLab user interface can change, so don’t include the sidebar if it’s not necessary.
  • Keep it small. If you don’t need to show the full width of the screen, don’t. A value of 1000 pixels is a good maximum width for your screenshot image.
  • Be consistent. Coordinate screenshots with the other screenshots already on a documentation page. For example, if other screenshots include the left sidebar, include the sidebar in all screenshots.

Save the image

  • Save the image with a lowercase filename that’s descriptive of the feature or concept in the image. If the image is of the GitLab interface, append the GitLab version to the filename, based on this format: image_name_vX_Y.png. For example, for a screenshot taken from the pipelines page of GitLab 11.1, a valid name is pipelines_v11_1.png. If you’re adding an illustration that doesn’t include parts of the user interface, add the release number corresponding to the release the image was added to; for an MR added to 11.1’s milestone, a valid name for an illustration is devops_diagram_v11_1.png.
  • Place images in a separate directory named img/ in the same directory where the .md document that you’re working on is located.
  • Consider using PNG images instead of JPEG.
  • Compress all PNG images.
  • Compress GIFs with or similar tool.
  • Images should be used (only when necessary) to illustrate the description of a process, not to replace it.
  • Max image size: 100KB (GIFs included).
  • See also how to link and embed videos to illustrate the documentation.

The Markdown code for including an image in a document is: ![Image description which will be the alt tag](img/document_image_title_vX_Y.png)

The image description is the alt text for the rendered image on the documentation site. For accessibility and SEO, use descriptions that:

  • Are accurate, succinct, and unique.
  • Don’t use image of… or graphic of… to describe the image.

Compress images

You should always compress any new images you add to the documentation. One known tool is pngquant, which is cross-platform and open source. Install it by visiting the official website and following the instructions for your OS.

GitLab has a Rake task that you can use to automate the process. In the root directory of your local copy of, run in a terminal:

  • Before compressing, if you want, check that all documentation PNG images have been compressed:

    bundle exec rake pngquant:lint
  • Compress all documentation PNG images using pngquant:

    bundle exec rake pngquant:compress

The only caveat is that the task runs on all images under doc/, not only the ones you might have included in a merge request. In that case, you can run the compress task and only commit the images that are relevant to your merge request.


Adding GitLab YouTube video tutorials to the documentation is highly encouraged, unless the video is outdated. Videos should not replace documentation, but complement or illustrate it. If content in a video is fundamental to a feature and its key use cases, but isn’t adequately covered in the documentation, you should:

  • Add this detail to the documentation text.
  • Create an issue to review the video and update the page.

Do not upload videos to the product repositories. Link or embed them instead.

To link out to a video, include a YouTube icon so that readers can scan the page for videos before reading:

<i class="fa fa-youtube-play youtube" aria-hidden="true"></i>
For an overview, see [Video Title](link-to-video).

You can link any up-to-date video that’s useful to the GitLab user.

Embed videos

Introduced in GitLab 12.1.

The GitLab documentation site supports embedded videos.

You can embed videos from the official YouTube account for GitLab only. For videos from other sources, link them instead.

In most cases, link to a video, because embedded videos take up a lot of space on the page and can be distracting to readers.

To embed a video:

  1. Copy the code from this procedure and paste it into your Markdown file. Leave a blank line above and below it. Do not edit the code (don’t remove or add any spaces).
  2. In YouTube, visit the video URL you want to display. Copy the regular URL from your browser ( and replace the video title and link in the line under <div class="video-fallback">.
  3. In YouTube, select Share, and then select Embed.
  4. Copy the <iframe> source (src) URL only (, and paste it, replacing the content of the src field in the iframe tag.
leave a blank line here
<div class="video-fallback">
  See the video: <a href="">Video title</a>.
<figure class="video-container">
  <iframe src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true"> </iframe>
leave a blank line here

This is how it renders on the GitLab documentation site:

See the video: What is GitLab.


  • The figure tag is required for semantic SEO and the video_container class is necessary to make sure the video is responsive and displays on different mobile devices.
  • The <div class="video-fallback"> is a fallback necessary for /help, because the GitLab Markdown processor doesn’t support iframes. It’s hidden on the documentation site, but is displayed by /help.

Code blocks

  • Always wrap code added to a sentence in inline code blocks (`). For example, .gitlab-ci.yml, git add ., CODEOWNERS, or only: [master]. File names, commands, entries, and anything that refers to code should be added to code blocks. To make things easier for the user, always add a full code block for things that can be useful to copy and paste, as they can do it with the button on code blocks.
  • HTTP methods (HTTP POST) and HTTP status codes, both full (404 File Not Found) and abbreviated (404), should be wrapped in inline code blocks when used in sentences. For example: Send a DELETE request to delete the runner. Send a POST request to create one.
  • Add a blank line above and below code blocks.
  • When providing a shell command and its output, prefix the shell command with $ and leave a blank line between the command and the output.
  • When providing a command without output, don’t prefix the shell command with $.
  • If you need to include triple backticks inside a code block, use four backticks for the code block fences instead of three.
  • For regular fenced code blocks, always use a highlighting class corresponding to the language for better readability. Examples:

    Ruby code
    JavaScript code
    [Markdown code example](
    Code or text for which no specific highlighting class is available.

Syntax highlighting is required for fenced code blocks added to the GitLab documentation. Refer to this table for the most common language classes, or check the complete list of available language classes:

Preferred language tags Language aliases and notes
dockerfile Alias: docker.
golang Alias: go.
ini For some simple configuration files that are not in TOML format.
javascript Alias js.
markdown Alias: md.
plaintext Examples with no defined language, such as output from shell commands or API calls. If a code block has no language, it defaults to plaintext. Alias: text.
prometheus Prometheus configuration examples.
ruby Alias: rb.
shell Aliases: bash or sh.
toml Runner configuration examples, and other TOML-formatted configuration files.
typescript Alias: ts.
yaml Alias: yml.

For a complete reference on code blocks, see the Kramdown guide.

GitLab SVG icons

Introduced in GitLab 12.7.

You can use icons from the GitLab SVG library directly in the documentation.

This way, you can achieve a consistent look when writing about interacting with GitLab user interface elements.

Usage examples:

  • Icon with default size (16px): **{icon-name}**

    Example: **{tanuki}** renders as: .

  • Icon with custom size: **{icon-name, size}**

    Available sizes (in pixels): 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 24, 32, 48, and 72

    Example: **{tanuki, 24}** renders as: .

  • Icon with custom size and class: **{icon-name, size, class-name}**.

    You can access any class available to this element in GitLab documentation CSS.

    Example with float-right, a Bootstrap utility class: **{tanuki, 32, float-right}** renders as:

When to use icons

Icons should be used sparingly, and only in ways that aid and do not hinder the readability of the text.

For example, this Markdown adds little to the accompanying text:

1. Go to **{home}** **Project overview > Details**.
  1. Go to Project overview > Details.

However, these tables might help the reader connect the text to the user interface:

| Section                  | Description                                                                                                                 |
| **{overview}** Overview  | View your GitLab Dashboard, and administer projects, users, groups, jobs, runners, and Gitaly servers.                      |
| **{monitor}** Monitoring | View GitLab system information, and information on background jobs, logs, health checks, requests profiles, and audit events. |
| **{messages}** Messages  | Send and manage broadcast messages for your users.                                                                          |
Section Description
Overview View your GitLab Dashboard, and administer projects, users, groups, jobs, runners, and Gitaly servers.
Monitoring View GitLab system information, and information on background jobs, logs, health checks, requests profiles, and audit events.
Messages Send and manage broadcast messages for your users.

Use an icon when you find yourself having to describe an interface element. For example:

  • Do: Select the Admin Area icon ( ).
  • Don’t: Select the Admin Area icon (the wrench icon).

Alert boxes

Use alert boxes to call attention to information.

Alert boxes are generated when the words NOTE: or WARNING: are followed by a line break. For example:

This is something to note.

To display an alert box for multiple paragraphs, lists, or headers, use blockquotes instead.

Alert boxes render only on the GitLab documentation site ( In the GitLab product help, alert boxes appear as plain text.


Use notes sparingly. Too many notes can make topics difficult to scan.

Instead of adding a note:

  • Re-write the sentence as part of a paragraph.
  • Put the information into its own paragraph.
  • Put the content under a new subheading.

If you must use a note, use this format:

This is something to note.

It renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

noteThis is something to note.


Use a warning to indicate deprecated features, or to provide a warning about procedures that have the potential for data loss.

This is something to be warned about.

It renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

cautionThis is something to be warned about.


For highlighting a text inside a blockquote, use this format:

> This is a blockquote.

It renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

This is a blockquote.

If the text spans multiple lines, you can split them.

For multiple paragraphs, use the symbol > before every line:

> This is the first paragraph.
> This is the second paragraph.
> - This is a list item
> - Second item in the list

It renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

This is the first paragraph.

This is the second paragraph.

  • This is a list item
  • Second item in the list


To maintain consistency through GitLab documentation, use these styles and terms.

Merge requests (MRs)

Merge requests allow you to exchange changes you made to source code and collaborate with other people on the same project.

  • Use lowercase merge requests regardless of whether referring to the feature or individual merge requests.

As noted in the GitLab Writing Style Guidelines, if you use the MR acronym, expand it at least once per document page. Typically, the first use would be phrased as merge request (MR) with subsequent instances being MR.


  • “We prefer GitLab merge requests”.
  • “Open a merge request to fix a broken link”.
  • “After you open a merge request (MR), submit your MR for review and approval”.

Describe UI elements

Follow these styles when you’re describing user interface elements in an application:

  • For elements with a visible label, use that label in bold with matching case. For example, the **Cancel** button.
  • For elements with a tooltip or hover label, use that label in bold with matching case. For example, the **Add status emoji** button.

Verbs for UI elements

Use these verbs for specific uses with user interface elements:

Recommended Used for Replaces
select buttons, links, menu items, dropdowns “click, “press,” “hit”
select or clear checkboxes “enable”, “click”, “press”
expand expandable sections “open”

Other Verbs

Recommended Used for Replaces
go to making a browser go to location “navigate to”, “open”

GitLab versions

GitLab product documentation pages (not including Contributor and Development pages in the /development directory) can include version information to help users be aware of recent improvements or additions.

The GitLab Technical Writing team determines which versions of documentation to display on this site based on the GitLab Statement of Support.

View older GitLab documentation versions

Older versions of GitLab may no longer have documentation available from If documentation for your version is no longer available from, you can still view a tagged and released set of documentation for your installed version:

  • In the documentation archives.
  • At the /help URL of your GitLab instance.
  • In the documentation repository based on the respective branch (for example, the 13.2 branch).

Where to put version text

When a feature is added or updated, you can include its version information either as a Version history item or as an inline text reference.

Version text shouldn’t include information about the tier in which the feature is available. This information is provided by the product badge displayed for the page or feature.

Version text in the Version History

If all content in a section is related, add version text after the header for the section. The version information must:

  • Be surrounded by blank lines.
  • Start with >. If there are multiple bullets, each line must start with > -.
  • The string must include these words in this order (capitalization doesn’t matter):
    • introduced, deprecated, moved
    • in or to
    • GitLab
  • Whenever possible, include a link to the completed issue, merge request, or epic that introduced the feature. An issue is preferred over a merge request, and a merge request is preferred over an epic.
## Feature name

> [Introduced](<link-to-issue>) in GitLab 11.3.

This feature does something.

## Feature name 2

> - [Introduced](<link-to-issue>) in GitLab 11.3.
> - [Enabled by default](<link-to-issue>) in GitLab 11.4.

This feature does something else.

If a feature is moved to another tier:

> - [Moved](<link-to-issue>) from GitLab Ultimate to GitLab Premium in 11.8.
> - [Moved](<link-to-issue>) from GitLab Premium to GitLab Free in 12.0.

If a feature is deprecated, include a link to a replacement (when available):

> - [Deprecated](<link-to-issue>) in GitLab 11.3. Replaced by [meaningful text](<link-to-appropriate-documentation>).

You can also describe the replacement in surrounding text, if available. If the deprecation isn’t obvious in existing text, you may want to include a warning:

This feature was [deprecated](link-to-issue) in GitLab 12.3 and replaced by
[Feature name](link-to-feature-documentation).

In the first major GitLab version after the feature was deprecated, be sure to remove information about that deprecated feature.

Inline version text

If you’re adding content to an existing topic, you can add version information inline with the existing text.

In this case, add ([introduced/deprecated](<link-to-issue>) in GitLab X.X).

Including the issue link is encouraged, but isn’t a requirement. For example:

The voting strategy in GitLab 13.4 and later requires the primary and secondary
voters to agree.

End-of-life for features or products

When a feature or product enters its end-of-life, indicate its status by creating a warning alert directly after its relevant header. If possible, link to its deprecation and removal issues.

For example:

This feature is in its end-of-life process. It is [deprecated](link-to-issue)
for use in GitLab X.X, and is planned for [removal](link-to-issue) in GitLab X.X.

After the feature or product is officially deprecated and removed, remove its information from the GitLab documentation.

Versions in the past or future

When describing functionality available in past or future versions, use:

  • Earlier, and not older or before.
  • Later, and not newer or after.

For example:

  • Available in GitLab 13.1 and earlier.
  • Available in GitLab 12.4 and later.
  • In GitLab 12.2 and earlier, …
  • In GitLab 11.6 and later, …

Removing versions after each major release

Whenever a major GitLab release occurs, we remove all version references to now-unsupported versions of GitLab. Note that this includes the removal of specific instructions for users of non-supported GitLab versions. For example, if GitLab versions 11.x and later are supported, special instructions for users of GitLab 10 should be removed.

To view historical information about a feature, review GitLab release posts, or search for the issue or merge request where the work was done.

Products and features

Refer to the information in this section when describing products and features in the GitLab product documentation.

Avoid line breaks in names

If a feature or product name contains spaces, don’t split the name with a line break. When names change, it is more complicated to search or grep text that has line breaks.

Product tier badges

Tier badges are displayed as orange text next to a heading. For example:

Tier badge

You must assign a tier badge:

Product tier badges on headings

To add a tier badge to a heading, add the relevant tier badge after the heading text. For example:

# Heading title **(FREE)**

Product tier badges on other content

In paragraphs, list names, and table cells, an information icon displays when you add a tier badge. More verbose information displays when a user points to the icon:

  • **(FREE)** displays as
  • **(FREE SELF)** displays as
  • **(FREE SAAS)** displays as

The **(FREE)** generates a span element to trigger the badges and tooltips (<span class="badge-trigger free">).

Available product tier badges

Tier in which feature is available Tier badge
GitLab Free self-managed and SaaS, and higher tiers **(FREE)**
GitLab Premium self-managed and SaaS, and their higher tiers **(PREMIUM)**
GitLab Ultimate self-managed and SaaS **(ULTIMATE)**
Only GitLab Free self-managed and higher tiers (no SaaS-based tiers) **(FREE SELF)**
Only GitLab Premium self-managed and higher tiers (no SaaS-based tiers) **(PREMIUM SELF)**
Only GitLab Ultimate self-managed (no SaaS-based tiers) **(ULTIMATE SELF)**
Only GitLab Free SaaS and higher tiers (no self-managed instances) **(FREE SAAS)**
Only GitLab Premium SaaS and higher tiers (no self-managed instances) **(PREMIUM SAAS)**
Only GitLab Ultimate SaaS (no self-managed instances) **(ULTIMATE SAAS)**

Topics that mention the gitlab.rb file are referring to self-managed instances of GitLab. To prevent confusion, include the relevant TIER ONLY tier badge on the highest applicable heading level on the page.

Specific sections

Certain styles should be applied to specific sections. Styles for specific sections are outlined in this section.

GitLab restart

When a restart or reconfigure of GitLab is required, avoid duplication by linking to doc/administration/ with text like this, replacing ‘reconfigure’ with ‘restart’ as needed:

Save the file and [reconfigure GitLab](../../../administration/
for the changes to take effect.

If the document resides outside of the doc/ directory, use the full path instead of the relative link:

Installation guide

In step 2 of the installation guide, we install Ruby from source. To update the guide for a new Ruby version:

  • Change the version throughout the code block.
  • Replace the sha256sum. It’s available on the downloads page of the Ruby website.

Configuration documentation for source and Omnibus installations

GitLab supports two installation methods: installations from source, and Omnibus packages. Possible configuration settings include:

  • Settings that touch configuration files in config/.
  • NGINX settings.
  • Other settings in lib/support/.

Configuration procedures can require users to edit configuration files, reconfigure GitLab, or restart GitLab. Use these styles to document these steps, replacing PATH/TO with the appropriate path:

**For Omnibus installations**

1. Edit `/etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb`:

   external_url ""

1. Save the file and [reconfigure](PATH/TO/administration/
   GitLab for the changes to take effect.


**For installations from source**

1. Edit `config/gitlab.yml`:

     host: ""

1. Save the file and [restart](PATH/TO/administration/
   GitLab for the changes to take effect.

In this case:

  • Bold the installation method’s name.
  • Separate the methods with three dashes (---) to create a horizontal line.
  • Indent the code blocks to line up with the list item they belong to..
  • Use the appropriate syntax highlighting for each code block.
  • Use the GitLab Restart section to explain any required restart or reconfigure of GitLab.

Feature flags

Learn how to document features deployed behind flags. For guidance on developing GitLab with feature flags, see Feature flags in development of GitLab.