Documentation Style Guide

This document defines the standards for GitLab’s documentation content and files.

For broader information about the documentation, see the Documentation guidelines.

For guidelines specific to text in the GitLab interface, see the Pajamas Content section.

For information on how to validate styles locally or by using GitLab CI/CD, see Testing.

Use this guide for standards on grammar, formatting, word usage, and more.

You can also view a list of recent updates to this guide.

If you can’t find what you need:

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

Documentation is the single source of truth (SSOT)

Why a single source of truth

The documentation of GitLab products and features is the SSOT for all information related to 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.

All information

Include problem-solving actions that may address rare cases or be considered risky, so long as proper context is provided in the form of 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.

We will add all troubleshooting information to the documentation, no matter how unlikely a user is to encounter a situation. For the Troubleshooting sections, people in GitLab Support can merge additions themselves.

All media types

Include any media types/sources if the content is relevant to readers. You can freely include or link presentations, diagrams, videos, and so on; 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.

No special types

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

  • Tutorials
  • How-to guides
  • Explanation
  • Reference (for example, a glossary)

At GitLab, we have so many product changes in our monthly releases that we can’t afford to continuously update multiple types of information. If we have multiple types, the information will become outdated. Therefore, we have a single template for documentation.

We currently do not distinguish specific document types, although we are open to reconsidering this policy after the documentation has reached a future stage of maturity and quality. If you are reading this, then despite our continuous improvement efforts, that point hasn’t been reached.

There is a temptation to summarize the information on another page. This will cause the information to live in two places. Instead, link to the single source of truth and explain why it is important to consume the information.

Organize by topic, not by type

Beyond top-level audience-type folders (for example, administration), we organize content by topic, not by type, so it can be located in the single-source-of-truth (SSOT) section for the subject matter.

For example, do not create groupings of similar media types. For example:

  • Glossaries.
  • FAQs.
  • Sets of all articles or videos.

Such grouping of content by type makes it difficult to browse for the information you need and difficult to maintain up-to-date content. Instead, organize content by its subject (for example, everything related to CI goes together) and cross-link between any related content.

Docs-first methodology

We employ a documentation-first methodology to help ensure the documentation remains a complete and trusted resource, and to make 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’s 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. Note that among any other documentation changes, you can either:

The more we reflexively add useful information to the documentation, the more (and more successfully) the documentation will be used to efficiently accomplish tasks and solve problems.

If you have questions when considering, authoring, or editing documentation, ask the Technical Writing team 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.

Having a knowledge base in any form that’s separate from the documentation would be against the documentation-first methodology, because the content would overlap with the documentation.

Markdown

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 will support all GFM markup in the future, which is all markup supported for display in the GitLab application itself. For now, use regular Markdown markup, following the rules in the linked style guide.

Note that 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 within GitLab. It will also fail when a document is using 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.json file in each project, to verify proper use of capitalization and backticks. Words in backticks will be ignored by markdownlint.

In general, product names should follow the exact capitalization of the official names of the products, protocols, and so on. See .markdownlint.json for the words tested for proper capitalization in GitLab documentation.

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.yml…”
    • needs is a parameter, and .gitlab.yml is a file, so both need backticks. Additionally, .gitlab.yml will fail markdownlint without backticks as 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.

Structure

Because we want documentation to be a SSOT, we should organize by topic, not by type.

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 docs.gitlab.com/user/project/merge_requests/. 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 within 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. The admin settings that can be accessed by using GitLab’s interface exist 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/index.md): all resources for that topic.

Work with directories and files

Refer to the following items when working with directories and files:

  1. When you create a new directory, always start with an index.md file. Don’t use another file name and do not create README.md 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/import_from_github.md. 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, account.md, applications.md, or emails.md.
    • doc/user/dashboard/ should contain all dashboard related documentation.
    • doc/user/admin_area/ should contain all admin related documentation describing what can be achieved by accessing GitLab’s admin 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/visibility_and_access_controls.md.
  8. The doc/topics/ directory holds topic-related technical content. Create doc/topics/topic_name/subtopic_name/index.md when subtopics become necessary. General user- and admin- related 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, or ask a technical writer at any stage in the process. The technical writing team will review 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 index.md page that introduces the topic, introduces the pages within, and links to the pages within (including to the index pages of any next-level subpaths).
  • 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 within 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).

Language

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.

Point of view

In most cases, it’s appropriate to use the second-person (you, yours) point of view, because it’s friendly and easy to understand. (Tested in FirstPerson.yml.)

Capitalization

Headings

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 there’s a mistake in the way the user interface text is styled, 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 Core 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. (Tested in .markdownlint.json.)

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 the following 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 following 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 example.com.
  • 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:

  • example.com when the domain name is generic.
  • gitlab.example.com when referring to self-managed instances of GitLab.

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 the following fake tokens as examples:

Token type Token value
Private user token <your_access_token>
Personal access token n671WNGecHugsdEDPsyo
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

Language to avoid

When creating documentation, limit or avoid the use of the following verb tenses, words, and phrases:

  • Avoid jargon when possible, and when not possible, define the term or link to a definition.
  • Avoid uncommon words when a more-common alternative is possible, ensuring that content is accessible to more readers.
  • Don’t write in the first person singular. (Tested in FirstPerson.yml.)
    • Instead of I or me, use we, you, us, or one.
    • When possible, stay user focused by writing in the second person (you or the imperative).
  • Don’t overuse “that”. In many cases, you can remove “that” from a sentence and improve readability.
  • Avoid use of the future tense:
    • Instead of “after you execute this command, GitLab will display the result”, use “after you execute this command, GitLab displays the result”.
    • Only use the future tense to convey when the action or result will actually occur at a future time.
  • Don’t use slashes to clump different words together or as a replacement for the word “or”:
    • Instead of “and/or,” consider using “or,” or use another sensible construction.
    • Other examples include “clone/fetch,” author/assignee,” and “namespace/repository name.” Break apart any such instances in an appropriate way.
    • Exceptions to this rule include commonly accepted technical terms, such as CI/CD and TCP/IP.
  • We discourage the use of Latin abbreviations and terms, such as e.g., i.e., etc., or via, as even native users of English can misunderstand those terms. (Tested in LatinTerms.yml.)
    • Instead of i.e., use that is.
    • Instead of via, use through.
    • Instead of e.g., use for example, such as, for instance, or like.
    • Instead of etc., either use and so on or consider editing it out, since it can be vague.
  • Avoid using the word currently when talking about the product or its features. The documentation describes the product as it is, and not as it will be at some indeterminate point in the future.
  • Avoid the using the word scalability with increasing GitLab’s performance for additional users. Using the words scale or scaling in other cases is acceptable, but references to increasing GitLab’s performance for additional users should direct readers to the GitLab reference architectures page.
  • Avoid all forms of the phrases high availability and HA, and instead direct readers to the GitLab reference architectures for information about configuring GitLab to have the performance needed for additional users over time.
  • Don’t use profanity or obscenities. Doing so may negatively affect other users and contributors, which is contrary to GitLab’s value of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.
  • Avoid the use of racially-insensitive terminology or phrases. For example:
    • Use primary and secondary for database and server relationships.
    • Use allowlist and denylist to describe access control lists.
  • Avoid the word please. For details, see the Microsoft style guide.
  • Avoid words like easily, simply, handy, and useful. If the user doesn’t find the process to be these things, we lose their trust.

Word usage clarifications

  • Don’t use “may” and “might” interchangeably:
    • Use “might” to indicate the probability of something occurring. “If you skip this step, the import process might fail.”
    • Use “may” to indicate giving permission for someone to do something, or consider using “can” instead. “You may select either option on this screen.” Or, “You can select either option on this screen.”

Contractions

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 contractions with a proper noun and a verb. For example:

    Do Don’t
    GitLab is creating X. GitLab’s creating 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.

Text

  • 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
    
    Paragraph.
    
    - List item 1
    - List item 2
    

Emphasis

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

Punctuation

Follow these guidelines for punctuation:

Rule Example
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. Related Issues: a way to create a relationship between issues.

Placeholder text

Often in examples, a writer will provide a command or configuration that uses values specific to the reader.

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>Ctrl</kbd>+<kbd>C</kbd>.

When the docs are generated, the output is:

To stop the command, press Ctrl+C.

Lists

  • 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.

Do:

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.

Don’t:

This is a list of available features:

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

Markup

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

Punctuation

  • 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.
    

Examples:

Do:

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

Don’t:

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

Do:

  • 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

  ```plaintext
  a codeblock that will next 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

   ```plaintext
   a codeblock that will next 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

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

Due to accessibility and scannability requirements, 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 as whether or not features are available to certain roles on the Permissions page), use the following phrases (based on the SVG icons):

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

Quotes

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

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

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

Headings

  • Add only one H1 in each document, by adding # at the beginning of it (when using Markdown). The h1 will be 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 you 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 GitLab’s 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.

Note: If you change an existing title, be careful. These changes might affect not only links within the page, but might also affect links to the GitLab documentation from both the GitLab application and external sites.

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

Note: Introduced 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 **(CORE)**, 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. Therefore, when you change a heading, search doc/*, app/views/*, and ee/app/views/* for the old anchor to make sure you’re not breaking an anchor linked from other documentation nor from the GitLab user interface. If you find the old anchor, be sure to replace it with the new one.

Important:

  • Avoid crosslinking documentation to headings unless you need to link to a specific section of the document. This will avoid breaking anchors in the future in case the heading is changed.
  • If possible, avoid changing headings since 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 is possible to add a custom ID to an HTML element with Markdown markup, but they do not work in GitLab’s /help. Therefore, do not use this option until further notice.

Links are important in GitLab documentation. They allow you to link instead of summarizing to help preserve a single source of truth within GitLab documentation.

We include guidance for links in the following categories:

  • Use inline link Markdown markup [Text](https://example.com). 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).

Note: Internal 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 https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/index.html to crosslink to other documentation within the same project. Use relative links to the file, like ../index.md. (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.
  • within the GitLab user interface when browsing doc files in their respective repositories. For example, the links displayed at https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/blob/master/doc/README.md.

To link to internal documentation:

  • Use relative links to Markdown files in the same repository.
  • Do not use absolute URLs or URLs from docs.gitlab.com.
  • Use ../ to navigate to higher-level directories.
  • Don’t prepend ./ to links to files or directories.
  • Don’t link relative to root. For example, /ee/user/gitlab_com/index.md.

    Don’t:

    • https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/administration/geo/replication/troubleshooting.html
    • /ee/administration/geo/replication/troubleshooting.md
    • ./troubleshooting.md

    Do: ../../geo/replication/troubleshooting.md

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

    Don’t:

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

    Do:

    • ../../merge_requests/index.md
    • ../../issues/tags.md
    • ../../issues/tags.md#stages
Note: Using 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.

Note: Non-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 will fail for:

  • Those without sufficient permissions.
  • Automated link checkers.

Instead:

  • 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.

Example:

For more information, see the [confidential issue](../../../user/project/issues/confidential_issues.md) `https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-foss/-/issues/<issue_number>`.

When linking to specific lines within a file, link to a commit instead of to the branch. Lines of code change through time, therefore, linking to a line by using the commit link ensures the user lands on the line you’re referring to. The Permalink button, which is available when viewing a file within a project, makes it easy to generate a link to the most recent commit of the given file.

  • Do: [link to line 3](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/blob/11f17c56d8b7f0b752562d78a4298a3a95b5ce66/.gitlab/issue_templates/Feature%20proposal.md#L3)
  • Don’t: [link to line 3](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/blob/master/.gitlab/issue_templates/Feature%20proposal.md#L3).

If that linked expression is no longer in that line of the file 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 and the char “greater than” (>) as a separator. For example: Navigate to your project's **Settings > CI/CD**.
  • If there are any expandable menus, make sure to mention that the user needs to expand the tab to find the settings you’re referring to. For example: Navigate to your project's **Settings > CI/CD** and expand **General pipelines**.

Use the following 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.

Images

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 file name 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 file name, based on the following 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 https://ezgif.com/optimize 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 https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab, 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.

Videos

Adding GitLab’s existing 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 this is not adequately covered in the documentation, add this detail to the documentation text or create an issue to review the video and do so.

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 only embed videos from GitLab’s official YouTube account. For videos from other sources, link them instead.

In most cases, it is better to link to video instead, because an embed takes 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIDEO-ID) 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 (https://www.youtube.com/embed/VIDEO-ID), 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="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqL6BMOySIQ">Video title</a>.
</div>
<figure class="video-container">
  <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MqL6BMOySIQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true"> </iframe>
</figure>
leave a blank line here

This is how it renders on the GitLab documentation site:

See the video: What is GitLab.

Notes:

  • 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 GitLab’s /help, as GitLab’s Markdown processor does not support iframes. It’s hidden on the documentation site, but will be displayed on GitLab’s /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 codeblock fences instead of three.
  • For regular fenced code blocks, always use a highlighting class corresponding to the language for better readability. Examples:

    ```ruby
    Ruby code
    ```
    
    ```javascript
    JavaScript code
    ```
    
    ```markdown
    [Markdown code example](example.md)
    ```
    
    ```plaintext
    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 the following table for the most common language classes, or check the complete list of available language classes:

Preferred language tags Language aliases and notes
asciidoc  
dockerfile Alias: docker.
elixir  
erb  
golang Alias: go.
graphql  
haml  
html  
ini For some simple config files that are not in TOML format.
javascript Alias js.
json  
markdown Alias: md.
mermaid  
nginx  
perl  
php  
plaintext Examples with no defined language, such as output from shell commands or API calls. If a codeblock has no language, it defaults to plaintext. Alias: text.
prometheus Prometheus configuration examples.
python  
ruby Alias: rb.
shell Aliases: bash or sh.
sql  
toml Runner configuration examples, and other TOML-formatted configuration files.
typescript Alias: ts.
xml  
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 px): 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, the following adds little to the accompanying text:

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

However, the following 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 logs. |
| **{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 logs.
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

When you need to call special attention to particular sentences, use the following markup to create highlighted alert boxes.

Alert boxes work for one paragraph only. Multiple paragraphs, lists, and headers won’t render correctly. For multiple lines, use blockquotes instead.

Alert boxes render only on the GitLab documentation site (https://docs.gitlab.com). In the GitLab product help, alert boxes appear as plain Markdown text.

These alert boxes are used in the GitLab documentation. These aren’t strict guidelines, but for consistency you should try to use these values:

Color Markup Default keyword Alternative keywords
Blue NOTE: **Note:**  
Yellow CAUTION: **Caution:** **Warning:**, **Important:**
Red DANGER: **Danger:** **Warning:**, **Important:**, **Deprecated:**, **Required:**
Green TIP: **Tip:**  

Note

Notes indicate additional information that’s of special use to the reader. Notes are most effective when used sparingly.

Try to avoid them. Too many notes can impact the scannability of a topic and create an overly busy page.

Instead of adding a note, try one of these alternatives:

  • Re-write the sentence as part of the most-relevant paragraph.
  • Put the information into its own standalone paragraph.
  • Put the content under a new subheading that introduces the topic, which makes it more visible.

If you must use a note, use the following formatting:

NOTE: **Note:**
This is something to note.

How it renders on the GitLab documentation site:

Note: This is something to note.

Tip

TIP: **Tip:**
This is a tip.

How it renders on the GitLab documentation site:

Tip: This is a tip.

Caution

CAUTION: **Caution:**
This is something to be cautious about.

How it renders on the GitLab documentation site:

Caution: This is something to be cautious about.

Danger

DANGER: **Warning:**
This is a breaking change, a bug, or something very important to note.

How it renders on the GitLab documentation site:

Warning: This is a breaking change, a bug, or something very important to note.

Blockquotes

For highlighting a text within a blue blockquote, use this format:

> This is a blockquote.

which renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

This is a blockquote.

If the text spans across multiple lines it’s OK to split the line.

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

Which renders to:

This is the first paragraph.

This is the second paragraph.

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

Terms

To maintain consistency through GitLab documentation, the following guides documentation authors on agreed styles and usage of 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. You’ll see this term used in the following ways:

  • 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.

Examples:

  • “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

The following are styles to follow when 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

The following are recommended 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 and tiers

Tagged and released versions of GitLab documentation are available:

The version introducing a new feature is added to the top of the topic in the documentation to provide a link back to how the feature was developed.

Tip: Whenever you have documentation related to the gitlab.rb file, you’re working with a self-managed installation. The section or page is therefore likely to apply only to self-managed instances. If so, the relevant “TIER ONLY” Product badge should be included at the highest applicable heading level.

Text for documentation requiring version text

When a feature is new or updated, you can add version information as a bulleted item in the Version history, or as an inline reference with related text.

Version text in the Version History

If all content in a section is related, add version text following the header for the section. Each entry should be on a single line. To render correctly, it must be on its own line and surrounded by blank lines.

Features should declare the GitLab version that introduced a feature in a blockquote following the header:

## Feature name

> Introduced in GitLab 11.3.

This feature does something.

Whenever possible, version text should have 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. For example:

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

If the feature is only available in GitLab Enterprise Edition, mention the paid tier the feature is available in:

> [Introduced](<link-to-issue>) in [GitLab Starter](https://about.gitlab.com/pricing/) 11.3.

If listing information for multiple version as a feature evolves, add the information to a block-quoted bullet list. For example:

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

If a feature is moved to another tier:

> - [Introduced](<link-to-issue>) in [GitLab Premium](https://about.gitlab.com/pricing/) 11.5.
> - [Moved](<link-to-issue>) to [GitLab Starter](https://about.gitlab.com/pricing/) in 11.8.
> - [Moved](<link-to-issue>) to GitLab Core 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 is not obvious in existing text, you may want to include a warning such as:

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

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). If applicable, include the paid tier: ([introduced/deprecated](<link-to-issue>) in [GitLab Premium](https://about.gitlab.com/pricing/) 12.4)

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

Whenever a feature or product enters the end-of-life process, indicate its status by using the Danger alert with the **Important** keyword directly below the feature or product’s header (which can include H1 page titles). Link to the deprecation and removal issues, if possible.

For example:

DANGER: **Important:**
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.

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 12.3 and earlier.
  • Available in GitLab 12.4 and later.
  • In GitLab 11.4 and earlier, …
  • In GitLab 10.6 and later, …

Importance of referencing GitLab versions and tiers

Mentioning GitLab versions and tiers is important to all users and contributors to quickly have access to the issue or merge request that introduced the change. Also, they can know what features they have in their GitLab instance and version, given that the note has some key information.

[Introduced](link-to-issue) in [GitLab Premium](https://about.gitlab.com/pricing/) 12.7 links to the issue that introduced the feature, says which GitLab tier it belongs to, says the GitLab version that it became available in, and links to the pricing page in case the user wants to upgrade to a paid tier to use that feature.

For example, if you’re a regular user and you’re looking at the documentation for a feature you haven’t used before, you can immediately see if that feature is available to you or not. Alternatively, if you’ve been using a certain feature for a long time and it changed in some way, it’s important to be able to determine when it changed and what’s new in that feature.

This is even more important as we don’t have a perfect process for shipping documentation. Unfortunately, we still see features without documentation, and documentation without features. So, for now, we cannot rely 100% on the documentation site versions.

Over time, version text will reference a progressively older version of GitLab. In cases where version text refers to versions of GitLab four or more major versions back, you can consider removing the text if it’s irrelevant or confusing.

For example, if the current major version is 12.x, version text referencing versions of GitLab 8.x and older are candidates for removal if necessary for clearer or cleaner documentation.

Products and features

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

Avoid line breaks in names

When entering a product or feature name that includes a space (such as GitLab Community Edition) or even other companies’ products (such as Amazon Web Services), be sure to not split the product or feature name across lines with an inserted line break. Splitting product or feature names across lines makes searching for these items more difficult, and can cause problems if names change.

For example, the following Markdown content is not formatted correctly:

When entering a product or feature name that includes a space (such as GitLab
Community Edition), don't split the product or feature name across lines.

Instead, it should appear similar to the following:

When entering a product or feature name that includes a space (such as
GitLab Community Edition), don't split the product or feature name across lines.

Product badges

When a feature is available in paid tiers, add the corresponding tier to the header or other page element according to the feature’s availability:

Tier in which feature is available Tier markup
GitLab Core and GitLab.com Free, and their higher tiers **(CORE)**
GitLab Starter and GitLab.com Bronze, and their higher tiers **(STARTER)**
GitLab Premium and GitLab.com Silver, and their higher tiers **(PREMIUM)**
GitLab Ultimate and GitLab.com Gold **(ULTIMATE)**
Only GitLab Core and higher tiers (no GitLab.com-based tiers) **(CORE ONLY)**
Only GitLab Starter and higher tiers (no GitLab.com-based tiers) **(STARTER ONLY)**
Only GitLab Premium and higher tiers (no GitLab.com-based tiers) **(PREMIUM ONLY)**
Only GitLab Ultimate (no GitLab.com-based tiers) **(ULTIMATE ONLY)**
Only GitLab.com Free and higher tiers (no self-managed instances) **(FREE ONLY)**
Only GitLab.com Bronze and higher tiers (no self-managed instances) **(BRONZE ONLY)**
Only GitLab.com Silver and higher tiers (no self-managed instances) **(SILVER ONLY)**
Only GitLab.com Gold (no self-managed instances) **(GOLD ONLY)**

For clarity, all page title headers (H1s) must be have a tier markup for the lowest tier that has information on the documentation page.

If sections of a page apply to higher tier levels, they can be separately labeled with their own tier markup.

Product badge display behavior

When using the tier markup with headers, the documentation page will display the full tier badge with the header line.

You can also use the tier markup with paragraphs, list items, and table cells. For these cases, the tier mention will be represented by an orange info icon that will display the tiers when visitors point to the icon. For example:

  • **(STARTER)** displays as
  • **(STARTER ONLY)** displays as
  • **(SILVER ONLY)** displays as

How it works

Introduced by !244, the special markup **(STARTER)** will generate a span element to trigger the badges and tooltips (<span class="badge-trigger starter">). When the keyword only is added, the corresponding GitLab.com badge will not be displayed.

Specific sections

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

GitLab restart

There are many cases that a restart/reconfigure of GitLab is required. To avoid duplication, link to the special document that can be found in doc/administration/restart_gitlab.md. Usually the text will read like:

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

If the document you are editing resides in a place other than the GitLab CE/EE doc/ directory, instead of the relative link, use the full path: https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/administration/restart_gitlab.html. Replace reconfigure with restart where appropriate.

Installation guide

Ruby: In step 2 of the installation guide, we install Ruby from source. Whenever there is a new version that needs to be updated, remember to change it throughout the codeblock and also replace the sha256sum (it can be found in the downloads page of the Ruby website).

Configuration documentation for source and Omnibus installations

GitLab currently officially supports two installation methods: installations from source and Omnibus packages installations.

Whenever there’s a setting that’s configurable for both installation methods, the preference is to document it in the CE documentation to avoid duplication.

Configuration settings include:

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

When you document a list of steps, it may entail editing the configuration file and reconfiguring or restarting GitLab. In that case, use these styles:

**For Omnibus installations**

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

   ```ruby
   external_url "https://gitlab.example.com"
   ```

1. Save the file and [reconfigure](path/to/administration/restart_gitlab.md#omnibus-gitlab-reconfigure)
   GitLab for the changes to take effect.

---

**For installations from source**

1. Edit `config/gitlab.yml`:

   ```yaml
   gitlab:
     host: "gitlab.example.com"
   ```

1. Save the file and [restart](path/to/administration/restart_gitlab.md#installations-from-source)
   GitLab for the changes to take effect.

In this case:

  • Before each step list the installation method is declared in bold.
  • Three dashes (---) are used to create a horizontal line and separate the two methods.
  • The code blocks are indented one or more spaces under the list item to render correctly.
  • Different highlighting languages are used for each config in the code block.
  • The GitLab Restart section is used to explain a required restart or reconfigure of GitLab.

Troubleshooting

For troubleshooting sections, you should provide as much context as possible so users can identify the problem they are facing and resolve it on their own. You can facilitate this by making sure the troubleshooting content addresses:

  1. The problem the user needs to solve.
  2. How the user can confirm they have the problem.
  3. Steps the user can take towards resolution of the problem.

If the contents of each category can be summarized in one line and a list of steps aren’t required, consider setting up a table with headers of Problem | Cause | Solution (or Workaround if the fix is temporary), or Error message | Solution.

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.