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 anyone can update or reuse it.
  • 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 types.

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 or group. 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.

Markdown

All GitLab documentation is written using Markdown.

The documentation website uses GitLab Kramdown, a “flavored” Kramdown engine to render pages from Markdown to HTML. The use of Kramdown’s features is limited by our linters, so, use regular Markdown and follow the rules in the linked style guide. You can’t use Kramdown-specific markup (for example, {:.class}).

HTML in Markdown

Hard-coded HTML is valid, although it’s discouraged from being used. 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.

Headings in Markdown

Each documentation page begins with a level 1 heading (#). This becomes the h1 element when the page is rendered to HTML. There can be only one level 1 heading per page.

  • For each subsection, increment the heading level. In other words, increment the number of # characters in front of the heading.
  • Avoid headings greater than H5 (#####). If you need more than five heading levels, move the topics to a new page instead. Headings greater than H5 do not display in the right sidebar navigation.
  • Do not skip a level. For example: ## > ####.
  • Leave one blank line before and after the heading.

When you change heading text, the anchor link changes. To avoid broken links:

  • Do not use step numbers in headings.
  • When possible, do not use words that might change in the future.

Also, do not use links as part of heading text.

See also heading guidelines for specific topic types.

Backticks in Markdown

Use backticks for:

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.

Language

GitLab documentation should be clear and easy to understand.

  • Avoid unnecessary words.
  • Be clear, concise, and stick to the goal of the topic.
  • Write in US English with US grammar. (Tested in British.yml.)

Capitalization

As a company, we tend toward lowercase.

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 mentioned 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.
  • Some features require title case, typically nouns that name GitLab-specific capabilities or tools. Features requiring title case should be:
    • Added as a proper name to markdownlint configuration, so that it can be consistently applied across all documentation.
    • Added to the word list.

If the term is not in the word list, ask a GitLab Technical Writer for advice.

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.

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, 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 only to self-managed GitLab instances. Use gitlab.com 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 typeToken value
Personal access token<your_access_token>
Application ID2fcb195768c39e9a94cec2c2e32c59c0aad7a3365c10892e8116b5d83d4096b6
Application secret04f294d1eaca42b8692017b426d53bbc8fe75f827734f0260710b83a556082df
CI/CD variableLi8j-mLUVA3eZYjPfd_H
Specific runner tokenyrnZW46BrtBFqM7xDzE7dddd
Shared runner token6Vk7ZsosqQyfreAxXTZr
Trigger tokenbe20d8dcc028677c931e04f3871a9b
Webhook secret token6XhDroRcYPM5by_h-HLY
Health check tokenTu7BgjR9qeZTEyRzGG2P

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 a contractionExampleUse instead
With a proper noun and a verbThe Container Registry’s a powerful feature.The Container Registry is a powerful feature.
To emphasize a negative Don’t install X with Y. Do not install X with Y.
In reference documentation Don’t set a limit. Do not set a limit.
In error messagesRequests to localhost aren’t allowed.Requests to localhost are not allowed.

Acronyms

If you use an acronym, spell it out on first use on a page. You do not need to spell it out more than once on a page. When possible, try to avoid acronyms in headings.

Numbers

When using numbers in text, spell out zero through nine, and use numbers for 10 and greater. For details, see the Microsoft Style Guide.

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
    

Comments

To embed comments within Markdown, use standard HTML comments that are not rendered when published. Example:

<!-- This is a comment that is not rendered -->

Emphasis

Use bold rather than italic to provide emphasis. GitLab uses a sans-serif font and italic text does not stand out as much as it would in a serif font. For details, see Butterick’s Practical Typography guide on bold or italic.

You can use italics when you are introducing a term for the first time. Otherwise, use bold.

  • 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:

  • End full sentences with a period.
  • Use one space between sentences.
  • Do not use semicolons. Use two sentences instead.
  • Do not use double spaces. (Tested in SentenceSpacing.yml.)
  • Do not use non-breaking spaces. Use standard spaces instead. (Tested in lint-doc.sh.)
  • 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 (Oxford) commas before the final and or or in a list of three or more items. (Tested in OxfordComma.yml.)
  • Avoid dashes. Use separate sentences, or commas, instead.
  • Do not use typographer’s (“curly”) quotes. Use straight quotes instead. (Tested in NonStandardQuotes.yml.)

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.

Text entered in the UI

If you want the user to type something in the UI, use backticks. For example:

In the **Commit message** box, type `This is my merge request`.

Backticks are more precise than quotes. For example, in this string:

  • In the Commit message box, type “This is my merge request.”

It’s not clear whether the user should include the period in the string.

Inline code

Inline code style is applied inline with regular text. Use inline code style:

  • For filenames or fragments of configuration files. For example, .gitlab-ci.yml, CODEOWNERS, and only: [main].
  • For HTTP methods (HTTP POST) and HTTP status codes, both full (404 File Not Found) and abbreviated (404). For example: Send a DELETE request to delete the runner. Send a POST request to create one.

To apply inline code style, wrap the text in a single backtick (`). For example, this is inline code style.

Code blocks

Code block style separates code text from regular text. Use code block style for commands run in the command-line interface. Code block style is easier to copy and paste in a user’s terminal window.

To apply code block style, wrap the text in triple backticks (three `) and add a syntax highlighting hint. For example:

```plaintext
This is codeblock style
```

When using code block style:

  • Use quadruple backticks (four `) to apply code block style when the code block you are styling has triple backticks in it. For example, when illustrating code block style.
  • Add a blank line above and below code blocks.
  • Syntax highlight hints are required for code blocks. See the list of supported languages and lexers for available syntax highlighters. Use plaintext if no better hint is available.

Lists

  • Use a period after every sentence, including those that complete an introductory phrase. Do not use semicolons or commas.
  • Majority rules. Use either full sentences or all fragments. Avoid a mix.
  • Always start list items with a capital letter.
  • Separate the introductory phrase from explanatory text with a colon (:). For example:

    You can:
    
    - Do this thing.
    - Do this other thing.
    

Choose between an ordered or unordered list

Use ordered lists for a sequence of steps. For example:

Follow these steps to do something.

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

Use an unordered lists when the steps do not need to be completed in order. For example:

These things are imported:

- Thing 1
- Thing 2
- Thing 3

List markup

  • Use dashes (-) for unordered lists instead of asterisks (*).
  • Start every item in an ordered list with 1.. When rendered, the list items are sequential.
  • Leave a blank line before and after a list.
  • Begin a line with spaces (not tabs) to denote a nested sub-item.

Nesting inside a list item

You can nest items under a list item, so they render with the same indentation as the list item. You can do this with:

Nested items should always align with the first character of the list item. For unordered lists (using -), use 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 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.

You can nest lists in other lists.

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

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:

Table headings

Use sentence case for table headings. For example, Keyword value or Project name.

Feature tables

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

OptionMarkdownDisplayed result
No**{dotted-circle}** No No
Yes**{check-circle}** Yes Yes

Footnotes

To indicate a footnote, use the HTML tag <sup> with a number. Put the tag at the end of the sentence or term.

For the footnotes below the table, use a bold number followed by a sentence.

For example:

| App name | Description                      |
|:---------|:---------------------------------|
| App A    | Description text. <sup>1</sup>   |
| App B    | Description text. <sup>2</sup>   |

1. This is the footnote.
1. This is the other footnote.

This text renders this output:

App nameDescription
App ADescription text. 1
App BDescription text. 2
  1. This is the footnote.
  2. This is the other footnote.

Quotes

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 Pajamas Design System Punctuation section. This is overridden by the documentation-specific punctuation rules.

Links help the docs adhere to the single source of truth principle.

To link to another page in the same repository, use a relative file path. For example, ../user/gitlab_com/index.md.

Use inline link Markdown markup [Text](https://example.com), rather than reference-style links, like [Text][identifier].

Put the entire link on a single line so that linters can find it.

To link to a page in a different repository, use an absolute URL. For example, to link from a page in the GitLab repo to the Charts repo, use a URL like https://docs.gitlab.com/charts/.

Each heading has an anchor link. For example, a topic with the title ## This is an example has the anchor #this-is-an-example.

The first topic on a page (the h1) has an anchor link, but do not use it. Link to the page instead.

If a heading has a product tier badge, do not include it in the anchor link. For example, for the heading ## This is an example **(FREE)**, use the anchor #this-is-an-example.

With Kramdown, you can add a custom ID to an HTML element, but these IDs don’t work in /help, so you should not use them.

When you change a heading, the anchor link changes. To ensure you update any related links, search these directories:

  • doc/*
  • app/views/*
  • ee/app/views/*

If you do not fix these links, the ui-docs-lint job in your merge request fails.

Use descriptive text for links, rather than words like here or this page.

For example, instead of:

  • For more information, see [this page](LINK).
  • For more information, go [here](LINK).

Use:

  • For more information, see [merge requests](LINK).

When possible, avoid links to external documentation. These links can easily become outdated, and are difficult to maintain.

Sometimes links are required. They might clarify troubleshooting steps or help prevent duplication of content. Sometimes they are more precise and will be maintained more actively.

For each external link you add, weigh the customer benefit with the maintenance difficulties.

Don’t link directly to:

These 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 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](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 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 how to navigate through the GitLab UI:

  • Always use location, then action.
    • From the Visibility dropdown list (location), select Public (action).
  • Be brief and specific. For example:
    • Do: Select Save.
    • Do not: Select Save for the changes to take effect.
  • If a step must include a reason, start the step with it. This helps the user scan more quickly.
    • Do: To view the changes, in the merge request, select the link.
    • Do not: Select the link in the merge request to view the changes.

Names for menus

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

  • Top bar: This is the top bar that spans the width of the user interface. It includes the menu, 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.

Names for UI elements

UI elements, like button and checkbox names, should be bold. Guidance for each individual UI element is in the word list.

How to write navigation task steps

To be consistent, use these templates when you write navigation steps in a task topic.

To open project settings:

1. On the top bar, select **Main menu > Projects** and find your project.
1. On the left sidebar, select **Settings > CI/CD**.
1. Expand **General pipelines**.

To open group settings:

1. On the top bar, select **Main menu > Groups** and find your group.
1. On the left sidebar, select **Settings > CI/CD**.
1. Expand **General pipelines**.

To open either project or group settings:

1. On the top bar, select **Main menu**, and:
   - For a project, select ***Projects** and find your project.
   - For a group, select **Groups** and find your group.
1. On the left sidebar, select **Settings > CI/CD**.
1. Expand **General pipelines**.

To create a project:

1. On the top bar, select **Create new... > New project**.

To create a group:

1. On the top bar, select **Create new... > New group**.

To open the Admin Area:

1. On the top bar, select **Main menu > Admin**.

To select your avatar:

1. On the top bar, in the top right corner, select your avatar.

To save the selection in some dropdown lists:

1. Go to your issue.
1. On the right sidebar, in the **Iteration** section, select **Edit**.
1. From the dropdown list, select the iteration to associate this issue with.
1. Select any area outside the dropdown list.

Optional steps

If a step is optional, start the step with the word Optional followed by a period.

For example:

1. Optional. Enter a description for the job.

If a step is recommended, start the step with the word Recommended followed by a period.

For example:

1. Recommended. Enter a description for the job.

Documenting multiple fields at once

If the UI text sufficiently explains the fields in a section, do not include a task step for every field. Instead, summarize multiple fields in a single task step.

Use the phrase Complete the fields.

For example:

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > Repository.
  3. Expand Push rules.
  4. Complete the fields.

If you are documenting multiple fields and only one field needs explanation, do it in the same step:

  1. Expand Push rules.
  2. Complete the fields. Branch name must be a regular expression.

To describe multiple fields, use unordered list items:

  1. Expand General pipelines.
  2. Complete the fields.
    • Branch name must be a regular expression.
    • User must be a user with at least the Maintainer role.

Images

Images, including screenshots, can help a reader better understand a concept. However, they should be used sparingly because:

  • They tend to become out-of-date.
  • They are difficult and expensive to localize.
  • They cannot be read by screen readers.

When needed, use images to help the reader understand:

  • Where they are in a complicated process.
  • How they should interact with the application.

Capture the image

When you take screenshots:

  • Ensure it provides value. Don’t use lorem ipsum text. Try to replicate how the feature would be used in a real-world scenario, and use realistic text.
  • Capture only the relevant UI. Don’t include unnecessary white space or areas of the UI that don’t help illustrate the point. The sidebars in GitLab can change, so don’t include them in screenshots unless absolutely necessary.
  • Keep it small. If you don’t need to show the full width of the screen, don’t. Reduce the size of your browser window as much as possible to keep elements close together and reduce empty space. Try to keep the screenshot dimensions as small as possible.
  • Review how the image renders on the page. Preview the image locally or use the review app in the merge request. Make sure the image isn’t blurry or overwhelming.
  • Be consistent. Coordinate screenshots with the other screenshots already on a documentation page for a consistent reading experience. Ensure your navigation theme is Indigo and the syntax highlighting theme is Light. These are the default preferences.

Add callouts

If you need to emphasize an area in a screenshot, use an arrow.

  • For color, use #EE2604. If you use the Preview application on macOS, this is the default red.
  • For the line width, use 3 pt. If you use the Preview application on macOS, this is the third line in the list.
  • Use the arrow style shown in the following image.
  • If you have multiple arrows, make them parallel when possible.

callout example

Save the image

  • Resize any wide or tall screenshots if needed, but make sure the screenshot is still clear after being resized and compressed.
  • All images must be compressed to 100KB or less. In many cases, 25-50KB or less is often possible without reducing image quality.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

If you use macOS and want all screenshots to be compressed automatically, read One simple trick to make your screenshots 80% smaller.

GitLab has a Ruby script that you can use to simplify the manual 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:

    bin/pngquant lint
    
  • Compress all documentation PNG images using pngquant:

    bin/pngquant compress
    
  • Compress specific files:

    bin/pngquant compress doc/user/img/award_emoji_select.png doc/user/img/markdown_logo.png
    
  • Compress all PNG files in a specific directory:

    bin/pngquant compress doc/user/img
    

Animated images

Avoid using animated images (such as animated GIFs). They can be distracting and annoying for users.

If you’re describing a complicated interaction in the user interface and want to include a visual representation to help readers understand it, you can:

  • Use a static image (screenshot) and if necessary, add callouts to emphasize an an area of the screen.
  • Create a short video of the interaction and link to it.

Emojis

Don’t use the Markdown emoji format, for example :smile:, for any purpose. Use GitLab SVG icons instead.

Use of emoji in Markdown requires GitLab Flavored Markdown, which is not supported by Kramdown, the Markdown rendering engine used for GitLab documentation.

GitLab SVG icons

Introduced in GitLab 12.7.

You can use icons from the GitLab SVG library directly in the documentation. For example, **{tanuki}** renders as: .

In most cases, you should avoid using the icons in text. However, you can use an icon when hover text is the only available way to describe a UI element. For example, Delete or Edit buttons often have hover text only.

When you do use an icon, start with the hover text and follow it with the SVG reference in parentheses.

  • Avoid: Select **{pencil}** **Edit**. This generates as: Select Edit.
  • Use instead: Select **Edit** (**{pencil}**). This generates as: Select Edit ().

Do not use words to describe the icon:

  • Avoid: Select **Erase job log** (the trash icon).
  • Use instead: Select **Erase job log** (**{remove}**). This generates as: Select Erase job log ().

When the button doesn’t have any hover text, you can describe the icon. Follow up by creating a UX bug issue to add hover text to the button to improve accessibility.

  • Avoid: Select **{ellipsis_v}**.
  • Use instead: Select the vertical ellipsis (**{ellipsis_v}**). This generates as: Select the vertical ellipsis ().

Videos

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 (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 /help, because the GitLab Markdown processor doesn’t support iframes. It’s hidden on the documentation site, but is displayed by /help.

Alert boxes

Use alert boxes to call attention to information. Use them sparingly, and never have an alert box immediately follow another alert box.

Alert boxes are generated when one of these words is followed by a line break:

  • FLAG:
  • NOTE:
  • WARNING:
  • INFO: (Marketing only)
  • DISCLAIMER:

For example:

NOTE:
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 (https://docs.gitlab.com). In the GitLab product help, alert boxes appear as plain text.

Flag

Use this alert type to describe a feature’s availability. For information about how to format FLAG alerts, see Document features deployed behind feature flags.

Note

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:

NOTE:
This is something to note.

It renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

note
This is something to note.

Warning

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

WARNING:
This is something to be warned about.

It renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

caution
This is something to be warned about.

Info

The Marketing team uses the INFO alert to add information relating to sales and marketing efforts.

The text in an INFO: alert always renders in a floating text box to the right of the text around it. To view the rendered GitLab docs site, check the review app in the MR. You might need to move the text up or down in the surrounding text, depending on where you’d like to floating box to appear.

For example, if your page has text like this:

This is an introductory paragraph. GitLab uses the SSH protocol to securely communicate with Git.
When you use SSH keys to authenticate to the GitLab remote server,
you don't need to supply your username and password each time.

INFO:
Here is some information. This information is an important addition to how you
work with GitLab and you might want to consider it.

And here is another paragraph. GitLab uses the SSH protocol to securely communicate with Git.
When you use SSH keys to authenticate to the GitLab remote server,
you don't need to supply your username and password each time.

And here is another paragraph. GitLab uses the SSH protocol to securely communicate with Git.
When you use SSH keys to authenticate to the GitLab remote server,
you don't need to supply your username and password each time.

It renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

This is an introductory paragraph. GitLab uses the SSH protocol to securely communicate with Git. When you use SSH keys to authenticate to the GitLab remote server, you don’t need to supply your username and password each time.

Here is some information. This information is an important addition to how you work with GitLab and you might want to consider it.

And here is another paragraph. GitLab uses the SSH protocol to securely communicate with Git. When you use SSH keys to authenticate to the GitLab remote server, you don’t need to supply your username and password each time.

And here is another paragraph. GitLab uses the SSH protocol to securely communicate with Git. When you use SSH keys to authenticate to the GitLab remote server, you don’t need to supply your username and password each time.

Disclaimer

Use to describe future functionality only. For more information, see Legal disclaimer for future features.

Blockquotes

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

Tabs

On the docs site, you can format text so it’s displayed as tabs.

To create a set of tabs, follow this example:

::Tabs

:::TabTitle Tab One

Here's some content in tab one.

:::TabTitle Tab Two

Here's some other content in tab two.

::EndTabs

This code renders on the GitLab documentation site as:

Tab One

Here’s some content in tab one.

Tab Two

Here’s some other content in tab two.

For tab titles, be brief and consistent. Ensure they are parallel, and start each with a capital letter. For example:

  • Omnibus package, Helm chart, Source
  • 15.1 and earlier, 15.2 and later

See Pajamas for details.

Terms

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

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

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. These badges link to the GitLab pricing page. For example:

Tier badge

You must assign a tier badge:

  • To all H1 topic headings, except the pages under doc/development/*.
  • To topic headings that don’t apply to the same tier as the H1.

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

# Heading title **(FREE)**

Do not add tier badges inline with other text, except for API attributes. The single source of truth for a feature should be the heading where the functionality is described.

Available product tier badges

Tier in which feature is availableTier 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 are only for instance administrators should be badged <TIER> SELF. Instance administrator documentation often includes sections that mention:

  • Changing the gitlab.rb or gitlab.yml files.
  • Accessing the rails console or running Rake tasks.
  • Doing things in the Admin Area.

These pages should also mention if the tasks can only be accomplished by an instance administrator.

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/restart_gitlab.md with text like this, replacing ‘reconfigure’ with ‘restart’ as needed:

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

If the document resides outside of the doc/ directory, use the full path instead of the relative link: https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/administration/restart_gitlab.html.

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`:

   ```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:

  • 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.