Contribute to this guide

The Python Packaging User Guide welcomes contributors! There are lots of ways to help out, including:

  • Reading the guide and giving feedback
  • Reviewing new contributions
  • Revising existing content
  • Writing new content

Most of the work on the Python Packaging User Guide takes place on the project’s GitHub repository. To get started, check out the list of open issues and pull requests. If you’re planning to write or edit the guide, please read the style guide.

By contributing to the Python Packaging User Guide, you’re expected to follow the Python Packaging Authority’s Contributor Code of Conduct. Harassment, personal attacks, and other unprofessional conduct is not acceptable.

Documentation types

This project consists of four distinct documentation types with specific purposes. When proposing new additions to the project please pick the appropriate documentation type.


Tutorials are focused on teaching the reader new concepts by accomplishing a goal. They are opinionated step-by-step guides. They do not include extraneous warnings or information. example tutorial-style document.


Guides are focused on accomplishing a specific task and can assume some level of pre-requisite knowledge. These are similar to tutorials, but have a narrow and clear focus and can provide lots of caveats and additional information as needed. They may also discuss multiple approaches to accomplishing the task. example guide-style document.


Discussions are focused on understanding and information. These explore a specific topic without a specific goal in mind. example discussion-style document.


Specifications are reference documention focused on comprehensively documenting an agreed-upon iterface for interoperability between packaging tools. example specification-style document.

Building the guide locally

Though not required to contribute, it may be useful to build this guide locally in order to test your changes. In order to build this guide locally, you’ll need:

  1. Nox. You can install or upgrade nox using pip:

    pip install --user nox-automation
  2. Python 3.6. Our build scripts are designed to work with Python 3.6 only. See the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Python installation instructions to install Python 3.6 on your operating system.

To build the guide, run the following bash command in the source folder:

nox -s build

After the process has completed you can find the HTML output in the ./build/html directory. You can open the index.html file to view the guide in web browser, but it’s recommended to serve the guide using an HTTP server.

You can build the guide and serve it via an HTTP server using the following command:

nox -s preview

The guide will be browsable via http://localhost:8000.

Style guide

This style guide has recommendations for how you should write the Python Packaging User Guide. Before you start writing, please review it. By following the style guide, your contributions will help add to a cohesive whole and make it easier for your contributions to be accepted into the project.


The purpose of the Python Packaging User Guide is

to be the authoritative resource on how to package, publish, and install Python projects using current tools.


The guide is meant to answer questions and solve problems with accurate and focused recommendations.

The guide isn’t meant to be comprehensive and it’s not meant to replace individual projects’ documentation. For example, pip has dozens of commands, options, and settings. The pip documentation describes each of them in detail, while this guide describes only the parts of pip that are needed to complete the specific tasks described in this guide.


The audience of this guide is anyone who uses Python with packages.

Don’t forget that the Python community is big and welcoming. Readers may not share your age, gender, education, culture, and more, but they deserve to learn about packaging just as much as you do.

In particular, keep in mind that not all people who use Python see themselves as programmers. The audience of this guide includes astronomers or painters or students as well as professional software developers.

Voice and tone

When writing this guide, strive to write with a voice that’s approachable and humble, even if you have all the answers.

Imagine you’re working on a Python project with someone you know to be smart and skilled. You like working with them and they like working with you. That person has asked you a question and you know the answer. How do you respond? That is how you should write this guide.

Here’s a quick check: try reading aloud to get a sense for your writing’s voice and tone. Does it sound like something you would say or does it sound like you’re acting out a part or giving a speech? Feel free to use contractions and don’t worry about sticking to fussy grammar rules. You are hereby granted permission to end a sentence in a preposition, if that’s what you want to end it with.

When writing the guide, adjust your tone for the seriousness and difficulty of the topic. If you’re writing an introductory tutorial, it’s OK to make a joke, but if you’re covering a sensitive security recommendation, you might want to avoid jokes altogether.

Conventions and mechanics

Write to the reader

When giving recommendations or steps to take, address the reader as you or use the imperative mood.

Wrong: To install it, the user runs…
Right: You can install it by running…
Right: To install it, run…
State assumptions
Avoid making unstated assumptions. Reading on the web means that any page of the guide may be the first page of the guide that the reader ever sees. If you’re going to make assumptions, then say what assumptions that you’re going to make.
Cross-reference generously
The first time you mention a tool or practice, link to the part of the guide that covers it, or link to a relevant document elsewhere. Save the reader a search.
Respect naming practices

When naming tools, sites, people, and other proper nouns, use their preferred capitalization.

Wrong: Pip uses…
Right: pip uses…

Wrong: …hosted on github.
Right: …hosted on GitHub.
Use a gender-neutral style

Often, you’ll address the reader directly with you, your and yours. Otherwise, use gender-neutral pronouns they, their, and theirs or avoid pronouns entirely.

Wrong: A maintainer uploads the file. Then he…
Right: A maintainer uploads the file. Then they…
Right: A maintainer uploads the file. Then the maintainer…

Write headings that use words the reader is searching for. A good way to do this is to have your heading complete an implied question. For example, a reader might want to know How do I install MyLibrary? so a good heading might be Install MyLibrary.

In section headings, use sentence case. In other words, write headings as you would write a typical sentence.

Wrong: Things You Should Know About Python
Right: Things you should know about Python
In body text, write numbers one through nine as words. For other numbers or numbers in tables, use numerals.