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Style Guide

  • Documentation is written in markdown files with names formatted as
    • Underscores in filenames are allowed only when they are present in the topic the document will describe (e.g. child_process).
    • Some files, such as top-level markdown files, are exceptions.
  • Documents should be word-wrapped at 80 characters.
  • The formatting described in .editorconfig is preferred.
    • A plugin is available for some editors to automatically apply these rules.
  • Changes to documentation should be checked with make lint-md.
  • American English spelling is preferred. "Capitalize" vs. "Capitalise", "color" vs. "colour", etc.
  • Use serial commas.
  • Avoid personal pronouns in reference documentation ("I", "you", "we").
    • Personal pronouns are acceptable in colloquial documentation such as guides.
    • Use gender-neutral pronouns and gender-neutral plural nouns.
      • OK: "they", "their", "them", "folks", "people", "developers"
      • NOT OK: "his", "hers", "him", "her", "guys", "dudes"
  • When combining wrapping elements (parentheses and quotes), terminal punctuation should be placed:
    • Inside the wrapping element if the wrapping element contains a complete clause — a subject, verb, and an object.
    • Outside of the wrapping element if the wrapping element contains only a fragment of a clause.
  • Documents must start with a level-one heading.
  • Prefer affixing links to inlining links — prefer [a link][] to [a link](
  • When documenting APIs, note the version the API was introduced in at the end of the section. If an API has been deprecated, also note the first version that the API appeared deprecated in.
  • When using dashes, use Em dashes ("—" or Option+Shift+"-" on macOS) surrounded by spaces, as per The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.
  • Including assets:
    • If you wish to add an illustration or full program, add it to the appropriate sub-directory in the assets/ dir.
    • Link to it like so: [Asset](/assets/{subdir}/{filename}) for file-based assets, and ![Asset](/assets/{subdir}/{filename}) for image-based assets.
    • For illustrations, prefer SVG to other assets. When SVG is not feasible, please keep a close eye on the filesize of the asset you're introducing.
  • For code blocks:
    • Use language aware fences. ("```js")
    • Code need not be complete — treat code blocks as an illustration or aid to your point, not as complete running programs. If a complete running program is necessary, include it as an asset in assets/code-examples and link to it.
  • When using underscores, asterisks, and backticks, please use proper escaping (\_, \* and \` instead of _, * and `).
  • References to constructor functions should use PascalCase.
  • References to constructor instances should use camelCase.
  • References to methods should be used with parentheses: for example, socket.end() instead of socket.end.
  • Function arguments or object properties should use the following format:
    • * `name` {type|type2} Optional description. **Default:** `value`.
    • For example: * byteOffset {integer} Index of first byte to expose. Default: 0.
  • Function returns should use the following format:
    • * Returns: {type|type2} Optional description.
    • E.g. * Returns: {AsyncHook} A reference to asyncHook.
  • Use official styling for capitalization in products and projects.
    • OK: JavaScript, Google's V8
    • NOT OK: Javascript, Google's v8
  • Use Node.js and not Node, NodeJS, or similar variants.
    • When referring to the executable, node is acceptable.

See also API documentation structure overview in doctools README.