Documentation styleguide

This styleguide recommends best practices to improve documentation and to keep it organized and easy to find.


  • When creating a new document and it has more than one word in its name, make sure to use underscores instead of spaces or dashes (-). For example, a proper naming would be The same rule applies to images.


  • Split up long lines, this makes it much easier to review and edit. Only double line breaks are shown as a full line break in GitLab markdown. 80-100 characters is a good line length
  • Make sure that the documentation is added in the correct directory and that there's a link to it somewhere useful
  • Do not duplicate information
  • Be brief and clear
  • Unless there's a logical reason not to, add documents in alphabetical order
  • Write in US English
  • Use single spaces instead of double spaces


  • Use dashes (-) for unordered lists instead of asterisks (*)
  • Use the number one (1) for ordered lists
  • Use underscores (_) to mark a word or text in italics
  • Use double asterisks (**) to mark a word or text in bold
  • When using lists, prefer not to end each item with a period. You can use them if there are multiple sentences, just keep the last sentence without a period


  • Add only one H1 title in each document, by adding # at the beginning of it (when using markdown). For subheadings, use ##, ### and so on
  • 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
  • When introducing a new document, be careful for the headings to be grammatically and syntactically correct. It is advised to mention one or all of the following GitLab members for a review: @axil, @rspeicher, @dblessing, @ashleys, @nearlythere. 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 newline after a heading


  • If a link makes the paragraph to span across multiple lines, do not use the regular Markdown approach: [Text]( Instead use [Text][identifier] and at the very bottom of the document add: [identifier]: This is another way to create Markdown links which keeps the document clear and concise. Bonus points if you also add an alternative text: [identifier]: "Alternative text" that appears when hovering your mouse on a link


  • Place images in a separate directory named img/ in the same directory where the .md document that you're working on is located. Always prepend their names with the name of the document that they will be included in. For example, if there is a document called, then a valid image name could be twitter_login_screen.png.
  • Images should have a specific, non-generic name that will differentiate them.
  • Keep all file names in lower case.
  • Consider using PNG images instead of JPEG.

Inside the document:

  • The Markdown way of using an image inside a document is: ![Proper description what the image is about](img/document_image_title.png)
  • Always use a proper description for what the image is about. That way, when a browser fails to show the image, this text will be used as an alternative description
  • If there are consecutive images with little text between them, always add three dashes (---) between the image and the text to create a horizontal line for better clarity
  • If a heading is placed right after an image, always add three dashes (---) between the image and the heading


  • Notes should be quoted with the word Note: being bold. Use this form:

    This is something to note.

    which renders to:

    Note: This is something to note.

    If the note spans across multiple lines it's OK to split the line.

New features

  • Every piece of documentation that comes with a new feature should declare the GitLab version that feature got introduced. Right below the heading add a note: >**Note:** This feature was introduced in GitLab 8.3
  • If possible every feature should have a link to the MR that introduced it. The above note would be then transformed to: >**Note:** This feature was [introduced][ce-1242] in GitLab 8.3, where the link identifier is named after the repository (CE) and the MR number
  • If the feature is only in GitLab EE, don't forget to mention it, like: >**Note:** This feature was introduced in GitLab EE 8.3. Otherwise, leave this mention out


  • 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/ Usually the text will read like:

    Save the file and [reconfigure GitLab](../administration/
    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: 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).

Changing document location

Changing a document's location is not to be taken lightly. Remember that the documentation is available to all installations under help/ and not only to or Make sure this is discussed with the Documentation team beforehand.

If you indeed need to change a document's location, do NOT remove the old document, but rather put a text in it that points to the new location, like:

This document was moved to [path/to/](path/to/

where path/to/ is the relative path to the root directory doc/.

For example, if you were to move doc/workflow/lfs/ to doc/administration/, then the steps would be:

  1. Copy doc/workflow/lfs/ to doc/administration/
  2. Replace the contents of doc/workflow/lfs/ with:

    This document was moved to [administration/](../../administration/
  3. Find and replace any occurrences of the old location with the new one. A quick way to find them is to use grep:

    grep -nR "" doc/

    The above command will search in the doc/ directory for recursively and will print the file and the line where this file is mentioned. Note that we used just the filename ( and not the whole the relative path (workflow/lfs/


Here is a list of must-have items. Use them in the exact order that appears on this document. Further explanation is given below.

  • Every method must have the REST API request. For example:

    GET /projects/:id/repository/branches
  • Every method must have a detailed description of the parameters.

  • Every method must have a cURL example.

  • Every method must have a response body (in JSON format).

Method description

Use the following table headers to describe the methods. Attributes should always be in code blocks using backticks (`).

| Attribute | Type | Required | Description |
| --------- | ---- | -------- | ----------- |

Rendered example:

Attribute Type Required Description
user string yes The GitLab username

cURL commands

  • Use as an endpoint.
  • Wherever needed use this private token: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK.
  • Always put the request first. GET is the default so you don't have to include it.
  • Use double quotes to the URL when it includes additional parameters.
  • Prefer to use examples using the private token and don't pass data of username and password.
Methods Description
-H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK" Use this method as is, whenever authentication needed
-X POST Use this method when creating new objects
-X PUT Use this method when updating existing objects
-X DELETE Use this method when removing existing objects

cURL Examples

Below is a set of cURL examples that you can use in the API documentation.

Simple cURL command

Get the details of a group:

curl -H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK"

cURL example with parameters passed in the URL

Create a new project under the authenticated user's namespace:

curl -X POST -H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK" ""

Post data using cURL's --data

Instead of using -X POST and appending the parameters to the URI, you can use cURL's --data option. The example below will create a new project foo under the authenticated user's namespace.

curl --data "name=foo" -H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK" ""

Post data using JSON content

Note: In this example we create a new group. Watch carefully the single and double quotes.

curl -X POST -H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK" -H "Content-Type: application/json" --data '{"path": "my-group", "name": "My group"}'

Post data using form-data

Instead of using JSON or urlencode you can use multipart/form-data which properly handles data encoding:

curl -X POST -H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK" -F "title=ssh-key" -F "key=ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EA..."

The above example is run by and administrator and will add an SSH public key titled ssh-key to user's account which has an id of 25.

Escape special characters

Spaces or slashes (/) may sometimes result to errors, thus it is recommended to escape them when possible. In the example below we create a new issue which contains spaces in its title. Observe how spaces are escaped using the %20 ASCII code.

curl -X POST -H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK" ""

Use %2F for slashes (/).

Pass arrays to API calls

The GitLab API sometimes accepts arrays of strings or integers. For example, to restrict the sign-up e-mail domains of a GitLab instance to * and, you would do something like this:

curl -X PUT -H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: 9koXpg98eAheJpvBs5tK" -d "restricted_signup_domains[]=*" -d "restricted_signup_domains[]"