Ansible style guide

Welcome to the Ansible style guide! To create clear, concise, consistent, useful materials on, follow these guidelines:

Linguistic guidelines

We want the Ansible documentation to be:

  • clear
  • direct
  • conversational
  • easy to translate

We want reading the docs to feel like having an experienced, friendly colleague explain how Ansible works.

Stylistic cheat-sheet

This cheat-sheet illustrates a few rules that help achieve the “Ansible tone”:

Rule Good example Bad example
Use active voice You can run a task by A task can be run by
Use the present tense This command creates a This command will create a
Address the reader As you expand your inventory When the number of managed nodes grows
Use standard English Return to this page Hop back to this page
Use American English The color of the output The colour of the output

Header case

Headers should be written in sentence case. For example, this section’s title is Header case, not Header Case or HEADER CASE.

Avoid using Latin phrases

Latin words and phrases like e.g. or etc. are easily understood by English speakers. They may be harder to understand for others and are also tricky for automated translation.

Use the following English terms in place of Latin terms or abbreviations:

Latin English
i.e in other words
e.g. for example
etc and so on
via by/ through
vs./versus rather than/against

reStructuredText guidelines

The Ansible documentation is written in reStructuredText and processed by Sphinx. We follow these technical or mechanical guidelines on all rST pages:

Header notation

Section headers in reStructuredText can use a variety of notations. Sphinx will ‘learn on the fly’ when creating a hierarchy of headers. To make our documents easy to read and to edit, we follow a standard set of header notations. We use:

  • ### with overline, for parts:
Developer guide
  • *** with overline, for chapters:
Ansible style guide
  • === for sections:
Mechanical guidelines
  • --- for subsections:
Internal navigation
  • ^^^ for sub-subsections:
Adding anchors
  • """ for paragraphs:
Paragraph that needs a title

Internal navigation

Anchors (also called labels) and links work together to help users find related content. Local tables of contents also help users navigate quickly to the information they need. All internal links should use the :ref: syntax. Every page should have at least one anchor to support internal :ref: links. Long pages, or pages with multiple levels of headers, can also include a local TOC.

Adding anchors

  • Include at least one anchor on every page

  • Place the main anchor above the main header

  • If the file has a unique title, use that for the main page anchor:

    .. _unique_page::
  • You may also add anchors elsewhere on the page

Adding local TOCs

The page you’re reading includes a local TOC. If you include a local TOC:

  • place it below, not above, the main heading and (optionally) introductory text
  • use the :local: directive so the page’s main header is not included
  • do not include a title

The syntax is:

.. contents::

More resources

These pages offer more help with grammatical, stylistic, and technical rules for documentation.

See also

Contributing to the Ansible Documentation
How to contribute to the Ansible documentation
Testing the documentation locally
How to build the Ansible documentation
#ansible-docs IRC chat channel