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Contributing to pandoc

Found a bug?

Bug reports are welcome! Please report all bugs on pandoc's github issue tracker.

Before you submit a bug report, search the (open and closed) issues to make sure the issue hasn't come up before. Also, check the User's Guide and FAQs for anything relevant.

Make sure you can reproduce the bug with the latest released version of pandoc (or, even better, the development version).

Your report should give detailed, reproducible instructions, including

  • the pandoc version (check using pandoc -v)
  • the exact command line used
  • the exact input used
  • the output received
  • the output you expected instead

A small test case (just a few lines) is ideal. If your input is large, try to whittle it down to a minimum working example.

Out of scope?

A less than perfect conversion does not necessarily mean there's a bug in pandoc. Quoting from the MANUAL:

Because Pandoc's intermediate representation of a document is less expressive than many of the formats it converts between, one should not expect perfect conversions between every format and every other. Pandoc attempts to preserve the structural elements of a document, but not formatting details such as margin size. And some document elements, such as complex tables, may not fit into Pandoc's simple document model. While conversions from Pandoc's Markdown to all formats aspire to be perfect, conversions from formats more expressive than Pandoc's Markdown can be expected to be lossy.

For example, both docx and odt can represent margin size, but because pandoc's internal document model does not contain a representation of margin size, this information will be lost on converting from docx to odt. (You can, however, customize margin size using --reference-odt.)

So before submitting a bug report, consider whether it might be "out of scope." If it concerns a feature of documents that isn't representable in pandoc's Markdown, then it very likely is. (If in doubt, you can always ask on pandoc-discuss.)

Fixing bugs from the issue tracker

Almost all the bugs on the issue tracker have one or more associated tags. These are used to indicate the complexity and nature of a bug. There is not yet a way to indicate priority. An up to date summary of issues can be found here.

  • beginner-friendly — The perfect starting point for new contributors. The issue is generic and can be resolved without deep knowledge of the code base.
  • enhancement — A feature which would be desirable. We recommend you discuss any proposed enhancement on pandoc-discuss before writing code.
  • bug — A problem which needs to be fixed.
  • complexity:low — The fix should only be a couple of lines.
  • complexity:high — The fix might require structural changes or in depth knowledge of the code base.
  • new:reader — A request to add a new input format.
  • new:writer — A request to add a new output format.
  • docs — A discrepency, or ambiguity in the documentation.
  • status:in-progress — Someone is actively working on or planning to work on the ticket.
  • status:more-discussion-needed — It is unclear what the correct approach to solving the ticket is. Before starting on tickets such as this it would be advisable to post on the ticket.
  • status:more-info-needed — We require more information from a user before we can classify a report properly.

Issues related to a specific format are tagged accordingly, e.g. feature request or bug reports related to Markdown are labelled with format:markdown.

Have an idea for a new feature?

First, search pandoc-discuss and the issue tracker (both open and closed issues) to make sure that the idea has not been discussed before.

Explain the rationale for the feature you're requesting. Why would this feature be useful? Consider also any possible drawbacks, including backwards compatibility, new library dependencies, and performance issues.

It is best to discuss a potential new feature on pandoc-discuss before opening an issue.

Patches and pull requests

Patches and pull requests are welcome. Before you put time into a nontrivial patch, it is a good idea to discuss it on pandoc-discuss, especially if it is for a new feature (rather than fixing a bug).

Please follow these guidelines:

  1. Each patch (commit) should make a single logical change (fix a bug, add a feature, clean up some code, add documentation). Everything related to that change should be included (including tests and documentation), and nothing unrelated should be included.

  2. The first line of the commit message should be a short description of the whole commit (ideally <= 50 characters). Then there should be a blank line, followed by a more detailed description of the change.

  3. Follow the stylistic conventions you find in the existing pandoc code. Use spaces, not tabs, and wrap code to 80 columns. Always include type signatures for top-level functions. Consider installing EditorConfig, this will help you to follow the coding style prevalent in pandoc.

  4. Your code should compile without warnings (-Wall clean).

  5. Run the tests to make sure your code does not introduce new bugs. (See below under Tests.) All tests should pass.

  6. It is a good idea to add test cases for the bug you are fixing. (See below under Tests.) If you are adding a new writer or reader, you must include tests.

  7. If you are adding a new feature, include updates to MANUAL.txt.

  8. All code must be released under the general license governing pandoc (GPL v2).

  9. It is better not to introduce new dependencies. Dependencies on external C libraries should especially be avoided.

  10. We aim for compatibility with ghc versions from 7.8.3 to the latest release. All pull requests and commits are tested automatically on, using GHC versions in the Tested-With stanza of pandoc.cabal. We currently relax the "-Wall clean" requirement for GHC 7.10.x, because there are so many warnings relating to the addition of type classes to the Prelude.


Tests can be run as follows:

cabal install --only-dependencies --enable-tests
cabal configure --enable-tests
cabal build
cabal test

or, if you're using stack,

stack setup
stack test

The test program is tests/test-pandoc.hs.


To run benchmarks with cabal:

cabal configure --enable-benchmarks
cabal build
cabal bench

With stack:

stack bench

Using the REPL

With a recent version of cabal, you can do cabal repl and get a ghci REPL for working with pandoc. With stack, use cabal ghci.

We recommend using the following .ghci file (which can be placed in the source directory):

:set -fobject-code
:set -XTypeSynonymInstances
:set -XScopedTypeVariables
:set -XOverloadedStrings

The code

Pandoc has a publicly accessible git repository on github: To get a local copy of the source:

git clone git://

Note: after cloning the repository (and in the future after pulling from it), you should do

git submodule update --init

to pull in changes to the templates (data/templates/). You can automate this by creating a file .git/hooks/post-merge with the contents:

git submodule update --init

and making it executable:

chmod +x .git/hooks/post-merge

The source for the main pandoc program is pandoc.hs. The source for the pandoc library is in src/, the source for the tests is in tests/, and the source for the benchmarks is in benchmark/.

The modules Text.Pandoc.Definition, Text.Pandoc.Builder, and Text.Pandoc.Generic are in a separate library pandoc-types. The code can be found in a

To build pandoc, you will need a working installation of the Haskell platform.

The library is structured as follows:

  • Text.Pandoc is a top-level module that exports what is needed by most users of the library. Any patches that add new readers or writers will need to make changes here, too.
  • Text.Pandoc.Definition (in pandoc-types) defines the types used for representing a pandoc document.
  • Text.Pandoc.Builder (in pandoc-types) provides functions for building pandoc documents programatically.
  • Text.Pandoc.Generics (in pandoc-types) provides functions allowing you to promote functions that operate on parts of pandoc documents to functions that operate on whole pandoc documents, walking the tree automatically.
  • Text.Pandoc.Readers.* are the readers, and Text.Pandoc.Writers.* are the writers.
  • Text.Pandoc.Biblio is a utility module for formatting citations using citeproc-hs.
  • Text.Pandoc.Data is used to embed data files when the embed_data_files cabal flag is used. It is generated from src/Text/Pandoc/Data.hsb using the preprocessor hsb2hs.
  • Text.Pandoc.Highlighting contains the interface to the skylighting library, which is used for code syntax highlighting.
  • Text.Pandoc.ImageSize is a utility module containing functions for calculating image sizes from the contents of image files.
  • Text.Pandoc.MIME contains functions for associating MIME types with extensions.
  • Text.Pandoc.Options defines reader and writer options.
  • Text.Pandoc.PDF contains functions for producing a PDF from a LaTeX source.
  • Text.Pandoc.Parsing contains parsing functions used in multiple readers.
  • Text.Pandoc.Pretty is a pretty-printing library specialized to the needs of pandoc.
  • Text.Pandoc.SelfContained contains functions for making an HTML file "self-contained," by importing remotely linked images, CSS, and javascript and turning them into data: URLs.
  • Text.Pandoc.Shared is a grab-bag of shared utility functions.
  • Text.Pandoc.Writers.Shared contains utilities used in writers only.
  • Text.Pandoc.Slides contains functions for splitting a markdown document into slides, using the conventions described in the MANUAL.
  • Text.Pandoc.Templates defines pandoc's templating system.
  • Text.Pandoc.UTF8 contains functions for converting text to and from UTF8 bytestrings (strict and lazy).
  • Text.Pandoc.Asciify contains functions to derive ascii versions of identifiers that use accented characters.
  • Text.Pandoc.UUID contains functions for generating UUIDs.
  • Text.Pandoc.XML contains functions for formatting XML.