ReST Styleguide


How to write content for the Plone Documentation.


This chapter explains the basics of editing, and updating to the Plone Documentation.


All pages should be in ReStructured Text, and have a .rst extension. Images should be in .png, or .jpg format. Please, don't use .gif, because the PDF-generating software has issues with that.

Line length & translations

Documentation is not code. Repeat after us: Documentation is not code.

Therefore, documentation should not follow PEP8 or other arbitrary conventions.


Remember : This documentation is set up so it is fully translatable by using standard tools like transifex.

Your sentences will become .po strings, to be translated.

Now, think about how translations would work if the translator can only see an arbitrary part of a sentence. Translating is hard enough without creating additional problems...

If you want to keep short lines:

Use semantic linefeeds when you are editing restructured text (or any other interpreted rich text format) because it will greatly improve the editing and maintenance of your documents.

Take this example paragraph:

Patterns can take options in two ways:
from the DOM or via the jQuery interface.
It is highly recommended to use the DOM interface,
since it offers a lot more flexibility compared to the jQuery approach.
if you wish to use the automatic binding and rebinding functionality,
the DOM approach is more straightforward and hassle-free.

Notice how it's easier to just reshuffle sentences and add stuff if, instead of using your editor "autowrap" feature, you manually insert line breaks after full stops, commas, or upon "grammatical" boundaries (and not merely word ones).

Do not be afraid to use more than 80 characters.

Document page format

Here are some Sphinx coding conventions used in the documentation.

Tab policy

  • Indentation 4 spaces
  • No hard tabs
  • No trailing whitespaces

Headings and filenames

  • For the headings, capitalize the first letter only
  • For the filenames, use_underscore_naming_style

Page structure

Each page should contain, in this order:

  • The main heading. This will be visible in the table of contents:
Writing and updating this document
  • The description of the page, which will appear in Plone's Description Dublin Core metadata field. This created using the reST admonition directive. A single paragraph of text consisting of 1-3 sentences is recommended, so that the same text fits into the search engine results (Google):
.. admonition:: Description

   This text will go to Plone's pages description field. It will appear in the search engine listings for the page.

Introduction paragraph: A brief overview:


This chapter will describe the basics of how to contribute to this document.

A number of paragraphs: The actual content of the document page:

Contributions needed

Below is the list of documentation and references we'd like to see

Section structure

Each section (folder) must contain

  • index.rst with:
  • Section heading: This will be visible in the table of contents
  • A single paragraph summarizing what this section is all about. This will be mapped to Plone folder description.
  • Sphinx toctree directive, maxdepth 2. Each .rst file in the folder should be linked to this toctree.
.. toctree::
   :maxdepth: 2


Headings style guide

ReStructured text and Sphinx enable any style you would prefer for the various heading level you would need. For example, underlining level 1 headings with ., level 2 headings with # and level 3 headings with | is perfectly valid as far as docutils is concerned. Unfortunately this is not the same for a human documentation maintainer.

In order to have consistent heading styles in all files that make this great document, it is recommended to follow strictly the rules stated in the Sphinx manual here:

As individual files do not have so called "parts" or "chapters", the headings would be underlined like this:

Heading 1
Heading 2
Heading 3
Heading 4


A topic is like a block quote with a title, or a self-contained section with no subsections. Use the "topic" directive to indicate a self-contained idea that is separate from the flow of the document. Topics may occur anywhere a section or transition may occur. Body elements and topics may not contain nested topics.

The directive's sole argument is interpreted as the topic title; the next line must be blank. All subsequent lines make up the topic body, interpreted as body elements. For example:

.. topic:: Topic Title

    Subsequent indented lines comprise
    the body of the topic, and are
    interpreted as body elements.

Syntax highlighting

Sphinx does syntax highlighting using the Pygments library.

You can specify different highlighting for a code block using the following syntax:

With two colons you start a code block using the default highlighter::

    # Some Python code here
    # The language defaults to Python, we don't need to set it
    if 1 == 2:

You can specify the language used for syntax highlighting by using the code-block directive:

.. code-block:: python

    if "foo" == "bar":
        # This is Python code

For example, to specify XML:

.. code-block:: xml

    <somesnippet>Some XML</somesnippet>

... or UNIX shell:

.. code-block:: shell

   # Start Plone in foreground mode for a test run
   cd ~/Plone/zinstance
   bin/plonectl fg

... or a buildout.cfg:

.. code-block:: ini

   # A random part in the buildout
   recipe =
   option = value

... or interactive Python:

.. code-block:: pycon

   >>> class Foo:
   ...     bar = 100
   >>> f = Foo()
   >>> / 0
   Traceback (most recent call last):
     File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
   ZeroDivisionError: integer division or modulo by zero

Setting the highlighting mode for the whole document:

.. highlight:: shell

All code blocks in this doc use console highlighting by default::

   some shell commands

If syntax highlighting is not enabled for your code block, you probably have a syntax error and Pygments will fail silently.

The full list of lexers and associated short names is here:


reST supports an image directive:

.. image:: ../_static/plone_donut.png

When used within Sphinx, the file name given (here plone_donut.png) must either be relative to the source file, or absolute which means that they are relative to the top source directory. For example, the file sketch/spam.rst could refer to the image _static/plone_donut.png as ../_static/plone_donut.png or /_static/plone_donut.png.

Other Sphinx and restructured text source snippets


This *word* is italics.


This **word** is in bold text.

Inline code highlighting:

This is :func:`aFunction`, this is the :mod:`some.module` that contains the :class:`some.module.MyClass`


These Python objects are rendered as hyperlinks if the symbol is mentioned in a relevant directive. See and

Making an external link (note the underscore at the end):

`This is an external link to <>`_

Making an internal link:

:doc:`This is a link to </introduction/writing.txt>`
See also :ref:`somewhere` (assuming that a line containing only
``.. _somewhere:`` exists above a heading in any file of this
documentation) ...
And a link to the term :term:`foo` assuming that ``foo`` is defined in the glossary.


.. glossary:: :sorted:

Bullet list:

* First bullet
* Second bullet with `a link <>`_


.. warning::

   This is a warning box (yellow)


This is a warning box (yellow)

.. error::

   This is an error box (red)


This is an error box (red)


.. note::

   This is a note box (blue)


This is a note box (blue)

.. TODO::

   This is a TODO item


This is a TODO item

You can find a brief introduction to reStructuredText (reST) on

Including gists

Sometimes it is handy to include gists. This can be useful if you want to include for example a configuration file.

For including gists just use the gist directive

.. gist::


Since this documentation serves as source for various versions (html, PDF, Dash/Zeal, others), please always include a link to the gist under the gist directive.