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README guidelines

Every module in the expressjs, pillarjs, and jshttp organizations should have a README file named The purpose of the README is to:

  • Explain the purpose of the module and how to use it.
  • Act as a landing page (both on GitHub and for the module to help people find it via search. Middleware module READMEs are also incorporated into
  • Encourage community contributions and participation.

Use the README template to quickly create a new README file.

Top-level items

Badges (optional): At the very top (with no subheading), include any applicable badges, such as npm version/downloads, build status, test coverage, and so on. Badges should resolve properly (not display a broken image).

Possible badges include:

  • npm version: [![NPM Version][npm-image]][npm-url]
  • npm downloads: [![NPM Downloads][downloads-image]][downloads-url]
  • Build status: [![Build Status][travis-image]][travis-url]
  • Test coverage: [![Test Coverage][coveralls-image]][coveralls-url]
  • Tips: [![Gratipay][gratipay-image]][gratipay-url]

Summary: Following badges, provide a one- or two-sentence description of what the module does. This should be the same as the blurb (which comes from the description property of package.json). Since npm doesn't handle markdown for the blurb, avoid using markdown in the summary sentence.

TOC (Optional): For longer READMEs, provide a table of contents that has a relative link to each section. A tool such as doctoc makes it very easy to generate a TOC.


Optionally, include a section of one or two paragraphs with more high-level information on what the module does, what problems it solves, why one would use it and how. Don't just repeat what's in the summary.


Required. This section is typically just:

$ npm install module-name

But include any other steps or requirements.

NOTE: Use the sh code block to make the shell command display properly on the website.

Basic use

  • Provide a general description of how to use the module with code sample. Include any important caveats or restrictions.
  • Explain the most common use cases.
  • Optional: a simple "hello world" type example (where applicable). This example is in addition to the more comprehensive example section later.


Provide complete API documentation.

Formatting conventions: Each function is listed in a 3rd-level heading (###), like this:

### Function_name(arg, options [, optional_arg]  ... )

Options objects

For arguments that are objects (for example, options object), describe the properties in a table, as follows. This matches the formatting used in the Express API docs.

Property Description Type Default
Name of the property in monospace. Brief description String, Number, Boolean, etc. If applicable.

If all the properties are required (i.e. there are no defaults), then you can omit the default column.

Instead of very lengthy descriptions, link out to subsequent paragraphs for more detailed explanation of specific cases (e.g. "When this property is set to 'foobar', xyz happens; see <link to following section >.)

If there are options properties that are themselves options, use additional tables. See trust proxy and etag properties.


Every README should have at least one example; ideally more. For code samples, be sure to use the js code block, for proper display in the website, e.g.:

var csurf = require('csurf')


What tests are included.

How to run them.

The convention for running tests is npm test. All our projects should follow this convention.


Names of module "owners" (lead developers) and other developers who have contributed.


Link to the license, with a short description of what it is, e.g. "MIT" or whatever. Ideally, avoid putting the license text directly in the README; link to it instead.

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