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Zalando's README Template

Clear documentation is critical to the success of your project. This checklist is meant to help you cover all your bases. Not every section/subsection will be relevant to your project; pick and choose what is. Inspired by READMEs of very successful projects like etcd.

Please copy-paste this into a new document and save as you build your READMEs. For alternative formats, you might create a Structured README, which offers a thorough breakdown of optional README ingredients for you to consider. You might also take a look at this similar checklist; or check out art-of-readme.

Project Name/Intro

  • Describe very briefly but clearly what the project does.
  • State if it is out-of-the-box user-friendly, so it’s clear to the user.
  • List its most useful/innovative/noteworthy features.
  • State its goals/what problem(s) it solves.
  • Note and briefly describe any key concepts (technical, philosophical, or both) important to the user’s understanding.
  • Link to any supplementary blog posts or project main pages.
  • Note its development status.
  • Include badges.
  • If possible, include screenshots and demo videos.

Core Technical Concepts/Inspiration

  • Why does it exist?
  • Frame your project for the potential user.
  • Compare/contrast your project with other, similar projects so the user knows how it is different from those projects.
  • Highlight the technical concepts that your project demonstrates or supports. Keep it very brief.
  • Keep it useful.

Getting Started/Requirements/Prerequisites/Dependencies

Include any essential instructions for:

  • Getting it
  • Installing It
  • Configuring It
  • Running it

More Specific Topics (+ sample sub-categories)

  • Versioning: Services, APIs, Systems
  • Common Error Messages/related details
  • Tests
  • Is it a Swift project? Please take a look at Mattt Thompson & Nate Cook's Swift documentation guide


  • Contributor Guidelines
  • Code Style/Requirements
  • Format for commit messages
  • Thank you (name contributors)


  • Next steps
  • Features planned
  • Known bugs (shortlist)


  • Email address
  • Google Group/mailing list (if applicable)
  • IRC or Slack (if applicable)