Fedora Documentation Style Guide

Editors note: This is not yet the final version. Changes can still be introduced in the ongoing discussion.

Typografic style guide

Use capitalization case for title (h1) and just title

Capatilize the article title, but just the title.

  • Incorrect: Fedora documentation style guide

  • Correct: Fedora Documentation Style Guide

Use sentence case for the post title and heading titles

Don’t capitalize words in your article title or any heading, other than proper nouns.

  • Incorrect: Technical Notes and Processes

  • Correct: Technical notes and processes

Less is more

Use boldface only for an extremely important phrase or statement. Use italics to emphazise text.

Use italics for system objects you mention in a sentence
GUI or CLI elements like button text or menu entries
other prompts the reader must find on the screen commands or package names
Use the preformatted source text for command line input or output

Use a shell prompt ($ or #) to indicate priviledge level and set the input apart from output. It also helps to use boldface for the input itself.

[…]# command arg1 arg2
output line 1
output line2
Use Admonitions very sparingly

They strongly interrupt the reading flow and thus make it difficult to grasp a section of text or even the article as a whole in a meaningful way.

Writing style guide

Write clearly and use shorter sentences

Brevity is good. Clarity is better. Don’t be excessively wordy when avoidable. If a longer sentence is easier to read, use the extra words.

Avoid passive voice

Passive voice is the use of the object of a sentence as the subject. For example

  • Active voice: The troops defeated the enemy.

  • Passive voice: The enemy was defeated by the troops.

Be careful of gerunds (-ing words)

They usually indicate passive voice. Rewrite your sentence to make it stronger. For example:

  • Weak, passive voice: Setting the foobar configuration option will make the application listen on all interfaces.

  • Strong, active voice: Set the foobar configuration option to make the application listen on all interfaces.

Avoid unnecessary future tense

Unless you’re actually talking about future plans or publications, present tense is best.

  • Unnecessary future tense: When you select Run, your program will start.

  • Present tense: When you select Run, your program starts.

Avoid too much use of the verb to be in sentences

Too much use of is, will be, or can be makes your sentences weak and flabby. Try using the verb form of words you’ve shuffled off elsewhere in the sentence. Often you can simply drop words, or use the imperative (commanding or advising) form of the sentence.

  • Weak: Zambone is an app used for managing your private documents on a server.

  • Strong: Zambone manages your private documents on a server. Or: Use Zambone to manage your private documents on a server.

  • Weak: When setting up a file server, it is important to plan the directory structure carefully.

  • Strong: Plan the directory structure of the file server carefully before you set it up.

Use standard US English for spelling and other international differences

US English is the lingua franca for the Fedora Project overall.

Have a smooth flow from general information to specific instructions

If you’re not sure how to structure your article like this, check out our starter template.

Avoid long, bulky texts

Such texts are daunting and take time to make sense of.

Instead, organize the text using paragraphs, indentations, or lists. This helps the user to quickly grasp the text and, above all, does not seem daunting.

Provide a short abstract at the beginning of a longer collection of paragraphs

Especially after second and third order headings ("h2" and "h3", "==" and "===" in Asciidoc), a short sentence or paragraph should follow, briefly describing the goal and/or subject of the following paragraphs, i.e. clearly bringing the "message" to the reader’s attention and aligning the reader’s expectation accordingly.

Content tips

These tips are about things to do — and avoid — in what you tell users to do. Remember that thousands of readers trust Fedora Documentation to tell them how to carry out tasks. Be responsible and helpful, test your examples carefully, advocate best practices, and respect the user’s security and choice.

Test your process

If possible, use a fresh guest VM — or at least a brand-new user account. Run your process from beginning to end to ensure it works. Fix, rinse, and repeat!

Prefer free software where practical (and officially packaged software wherever possible)

We can cover non-FOSS software to be used on Fedora, where we know or suspect that software is very popular and useful to Fedora users. (Google Chrome or Nvidia driver are good examples.) But we strongly prefer to use FOSS software.

Unless necessary, use Fedora family distributions

We are Fedora. Unless your documentation article specifically targets a cross-distribution mechanism, use installations, containers, or distributions within our family (Fedora, CentOS, RHEL).

Copr software must be accompanied by a caveat

The Copr build system is not managed by the Fedora release team and does not provide official software builds. If you cover some software from Copr, ensure there’s no official build. If not, include a statement like this: Copr is not officially supported by Fedora infrastructure. Use packages at your own risk.

Avoid exclusionary or problematic language

These are examples of terminology to avoid wherever possible in articles:

  • blacklist/whitelist — Use allowlist/denylist instead, which is more directly descriptive of the purpose.

  • master/slave — Use primary/secondary, primary/replica, active/passive, active/standby, or another similar construct.

Use the correct style for third parties

Names of companies, projects, and technologies don’t always follow the style rules of typical English words. Choose the styling used by authoritiative websites when you’re unsure. If authoritaive sources use inconsistent style, use your best judgment. A non-exhaustive list:

  • Copr instead of COPR

  • NVIDIA instead of Nvidia or nVidia

  • Perl instead of PERL

  • Red Hat instead of Redhat or RedHat

  • ThinkPad instead of Thinkpad

Images and screenshots

Use a fresh, standard Fedora system

Don’t use your personal system or setup. It’s best to make a VM with a fresh Fedora variant install, and do the steps there.

Set screen resolution at a reasonable but not too high resolution

Stay beyond resolutions as 1280x960 or 1280x800.

If you’re only showing a browser window, make it fairly large on the screen and screenshot only the browser

You can use the Screenshot app for this!

If you’re only showing an application, use the default size of the app to screenshot it
Upload and use that original media in your article

If the shot is large, like a large browser window, app, or whole screen, choose a medium size thumbnail and let Antorra CMS handle the conversion.

Processing tips

Check spelling and grammar

Check your work before creating a Pull Request.