Documentation Style Guide

The documentation style guide defines the markup structure used in GitLab documentation. Check the documentation guidelines for general development instructions.

See the GitLab handbook for the writing style guidelines.

For programmatic help adhering to the guidelines, see linting.


DANGER: Attention: Do not use capital letters, spaces, or special chars in file names, branch names, directory names, headings, or in anything that generates a path.

NOTE: Note: Do not create new files, name them instead. There's a test that will fail if it spots a new file.


The documentation website had its markdown engine migrated from Redcarpet to GitLab Kramdown in October 2018.

The gitlab-kramdown gem will support all GFM markup in the future. For now, use regular markdown markup, following the rules on this style guide. For a complete Kramdown reference, check the GiLab Markdown Kramdown Guide. Use Kramdown markup wisely: do not overuse its specific markup (e.g., {:.class}) as it will not render properly in /help.


These guidelines help toward the goal of having every user's search of documentation yield a useful result, and ensuring content is helpful and easy to consume.

  • What to include:
    • Any and all helpful information, processes, and tips for implementing, using, and troubleshooting GitLab features. The documentation is the single source of truth for this information.
    • 'Risky' or niche problem-solving steps. There is no reason to withhold these or store them elsewhere; simply include them along with the rest of the docs including all necessary detail, such as specific warnings and caveats about potential ramifications.
    • Any content types/sources, if relevant to users or admins. You can freely include presentations, videos, etc.; no matter who it was originally written for, if it is helpful to any of our audiences, we can include it. If an outside source that's under copyright, rephrase, or summarize and link out; do not copy and paste.
    • All applicable subsections as described on the structure and template page, with files organized in the correct directory.
  • To ensure discoverability, link to each doc from its higher-level index page and other related pages.
  • When referencing other GitLab products and features, link to their respective docs; when referencing third-party products or technologies, link out to their external sites, documentation, and resources.
  • Do not duplicate information.
  • Structure content in alphabetical order in tables, lists, etc., unless there is a logical reason not to (for example, when mirroring the UI or an ordered sequence).


  • Use inclusive language and avoid jargon, as well as uncommon words. The docs should be clear and easy to understand.
  • Write in the 3rd person (use "we", "you", "us", "one", instead of "I" or "me").
  • Be clear, concise, and stick to the goal of the doc.
  • Write in US English.
  • Capitalize "G" and "L" in GitLab.
  • Use title case when referring to features or products (e.g., GitLab Runner, Geo, Issue Boards, GitLab Core, Git, Prometheus, Kubernetes, etc), and methods or methodologies (e.g., Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, Scrum, Agile, etc). Note that some features are also objects (e.g. "GitLab's Merge Requests support X." and "Create a new merge request for Z.").


  • Split up long lines (wrap text), this makes it much easier to review and edit. Only double line breaks are shown as a full line break by creating new paragraphs. 80-100 characters is the recommended line length.

  • Use sentence case for titles, headings, labels, menu items, and buttons.

  • Jump a line between different markups (e.g., after every paragraph, header, list, etc). Example:

    ## Header
    - List item 1
    - List item 2


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


Check the general punctuation rules for the GitLab documentation on the table below. Check specific punctuation rules for list items below.

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. ---
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' in a list. 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.

List items

  • Always start list items with a capital letter.
  • Always leave a blank line before and after a list.
  • Begin a line with spaces (not tabs) to denote a subitem.
  • To nest subitems, indent them with two spaces.
  • To nest code blocks, indent them with four spaces.
  • Only use ordered lists when their items describe a sequence of steps to follow.


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


  • Do not add commas (,) or semicolons (;) to the end of a list item.

  • Only add periods to the end of a list item if the item consists of a complete sentence. The definition of full sentence is: "a complete sentence always contains a verb, expresses a complete idea, and makes sense standing alone".

  • Be consistent throughout the list: if the majority of the items do not end in a period, do not end any of the items in a period, even if they consist of a complete sentence. The opposite is also valid: if the majority of the items end with a period, end all with a period.

  • Separate list items from explanatory text with a colon (:). For example:

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



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


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


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


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


Valid for markdown content only, not for frontmatter 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, please refer to the GitLab UX guide.


  • Add only one H1 in each document, by adding # at the beginning of it (when using markdown). The h1 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 chars in headers. Whenever possible, they should be plain and short text.
  • Avoid adding things that show ephemeral statuses. For example, if a feature is considered beta or experimental, put this info in a note, not in the heading.
  • 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 new line after a heading.
  • Do not use links in headings.
  • Add the corresponding product badge according to the tier the feature belongs.


  • Use inline link markdown markup [Text]( It's easier to read, review, and maintain. Do not use [Text][identifier].
  • To link to internal documentation, use relative links, not full URLs. Use ../ to navigate to high-level directories, and always add the file name at the end of the link with the .md extension, not .html. Example: instead of [text](../../merge_requests/), use [text](../../merge_requests/ or, [text](../../ci/, or, for anchor links, [text](../../ci/ Using the markdown extension is necessary for the /help section of GitLab.
  • To link from CE to EE-only documentation, use the EE-only doc full URL.
  • Use meaningful anchor texts. E.g., instead of writing something like Read more about GitLab Issue Boards [here](LINK), write Read more about [GitLab Issue Boards](LINK).


To indicate the steps of navigation through the UI:

  • Use the exact word as shown in the UI, including any capital letters as-is.
  • Use bold text for navigation items and the char "greater than" (>) as separator (e.g., 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 (e.g., Navigate to your project's **Settings > CI/CD** and expand **General pipelines**).


  • 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 and describe them properly.
  • Keep all file names in lower case.
  • Consider using PNG images instead of JPEG.
  • Compress all images with or similar tool.
  • Compress gifs with or similar tool.
  • Images should be used (only when necessary) to illustrate the description of a process, not to replace it.
  • Max image size: 100KB (gifs included).
  • The GitLab docs do not support videos yet.

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.

Code blocks

  • Always wrap code added to a sentence in inline code blocks (`). E.g., .gitlab-ci.yml, git add ., CODEOWNERS, 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 easily do it with the button on code blocks.

  • For regular code blocks, always use a highlighting class corresponding to the language for better readability. Examples:

     Ruby code
     JavaScript code
     Markdown code
  • For a complete reference on code blocks, check the Kramdown guide.

Alert boxes

Whenever you want to call the attention to a particular sentence, use the following markup for highlighting.

Note that the alert boxes only work for one paragraph only. Multiple paragraphs, lists, headers, etc will not render correctly. For multiple lines, use blockquotes instead.


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

How it renders in

NOTE: Note: This is something to note.


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

How it renders in

TIP: Tip: This is a tip.


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

How it renders in

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


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

How it renders in

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


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

> This is a blockquote.

which renders in to:

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
> ### This is an `h3`

Which renders to:

This is the first paragraph.

This is the second paragraph.

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

This is an h3


Specific sections and terms

To maintain consistency through GitLab documentation, the following guides documentation authors on agreed styles and usage of terms.

Describing UI elements

The following are styles to follow when describing UI elements on a screen:

  • 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.

Recommended Used for Alternatives
"click" buttons, links, menu items "hit", "press", "select"
"check" checkboxes "enable", "click", "press"
"select" dropdowns "pick"
"expand" expandable sections "open"

Other Verbs

Recommended Used for Alternatives
"go" making a browser go to location "navigate", "open"

GitLab versions and tiers

  • 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 blockquote:

    > Introduced in GitLab 8.3.
  • Whenever possible, every feature should have a link to the issue, MR or epic (in that order) that introduced it. The above quote would be then transformed to:

    > [Introduced](<link-to-issue>) in GitLab 8.3.
  • If the feature is only available in GitLab Enterprise Edition, don't forget to mention the paid tier the feature is available in:

    > [Introduced](<link-to-issue>) in [GitLab Starter]( 10.3.

Early versions of EE

If the feature was created before GitLab 9.2 (before different EE tiers were introduced):

  • Declare it as "Introduced in GitLab Enterprise Edition X.Y".
  • Note which tier the feature is available in.

For example:

> [Introduced](<link-to-issue>) in GitLab Enterprise Edition 9.0. Available in [GitLab Premium](

Product badges

When a feature is available in EE-only tiers, add the corresponding tier according to the feature availability:

  • For GitLab Starter and Bronze: **[STARTER]**.
  • For GitLab Premium and Silver: **[PREMIUM]**.
  • For GitLab Ultimate and Gold: **[ULTIMATE]**.
  • For GitLab Core and Free: **[CORE]**.

To exclude tiers (when the feature is not available in, add the keyword "only":

  • For GitLab Core: **[CORE ONLY]**.
  • For GitLab Starter: **[STARTER ONLY]**.
  • For GitLab Premium: **[PREMIUM ONLY]**.
  • For GitLab Ultimate: **[ULTIMATE ONLY]**.

The tier should be ideally added to headers, so that the full badge will be displayed. However, it can be also mentioned from paragraphs, list items, and table cells. For these cases, the tier mention will be represented by an orange question mark that will show the tiers on hover. E.g., **[STARTER]** renders [STARTER], **[STARTER ONLY]** renders [STARTER ONLY].

The absence of tiers' mentions mean that the feature is available in GitLab Core, Free, and all higher tiers.

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 badge will not be displayed.

Specific sections

Certain styles should be applied to specific sections. Styles for specific sections are outlined below.

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).

Configuration documentation for source and Omnibus installations

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

Whenever there is a setting that is configurable for both installation methods, prefer to document it in the CE docs to avoid duplication.

Configuration settings include:

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

When there is a list of steps to perform, usually that entails editing the configuration file and reconfiguring/restarting GitLab. In such case, follow the style below as a guide:

**For Omnibus installations**

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

    external_url ""

1. Save the file and [reconfigure] GitLab for the changes to take effect.


**For installations from source**

1. Edit `config/gitlab.yml`:

      host: ""

1. Save the file and [restart] GitLab for the changes to take effect.

[reconfigure]: path/to/administration/
[restart]: path/to/administration/

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 references guide is used for reconfigure/restart.


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).

API topic template

The following can be used as a template to get started:

## Descriptive title

One or two sentence description of what endpoint does.

METHOD /endpoint

| Attribute   | Type     | Required | Description           |
| `attribute` | datatype | yes/no   | Detailed description. |
| `attribute` | datatype | yes/no   | Detailed description. |

Example request:

curl --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" ''

Example response:


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

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 personal access token: <your_access_token>.
  • 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 personal access token and don't pass data of username and password.
Methods Description
-H "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" 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 --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>"

cURL example with parameters passed in the URL

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

curl --request POST --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" ""

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" --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" ""

Post data using JSON content

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

curl --request POST --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" --header "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 --request POST --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" --form "title=ssh-key" --form "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 --request POST --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" ""

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 --request PUT --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <your_access_token>" --data "domain_whitelist[]=*" --data "domain_whitelist[]"