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In a how-to guide, include one or two opening paragraphs. The opening paragraph should be used to briefly describe to the reader what the reader will do using this guide, and what the outcomes are when they successfully finish the task. The information in the opening paragraph should help answer the following questions for the reader:

  • "What’s in it for me?"

  • "How does this feature / task help me create more value?"


This is the first subsection in the how-to guide. List any prerequisites that the reader needs to have already met in order for them to successfully complete the task. These may include:

  • Completing a certain task, such as signing up for a CircleCI account and having at least one project building in CircleCI

  • CircleCI plan

  • Roles and permissions

  • Skills/knowledge

    • Link to any helpful documentation or pages that they can refer to, for example, "For more information on how test splitting works, refer to the Test splitting and parallelism page."

  • Any other dependencies

Sometimes, there may be topics to know or tasks to complete that are helpful in order to successfully finish the how-to guide, but do not necessarily have a negative impact on the user’s flow if they only do those as they go along. For example, you may include generating an API token in the how-to steps itself, rather than listing it as a strict prerequisite. Use your best judgment to decide whether to add such a requirement as a prerequisite or as a step that is part of the how-to.

1. Carry out the task

The main body of the guide should be broken into logical steps, with headings for each step. The steps should guide the reader through using the feature.

Write the section headings with an active voice to show what will be done. The reader should ideally be able to read the page table of contents and understand what they will achieve and how.

In a how-to guide, you might walk the reader through an example scenario. Examples should be based on real-world use cases as much as possible and address business objectives.

1. This is a subsection title

Subsections can be used to break steps into logical sub-parts as needed. Level 2 section titles (===) should also be ordered:

Break up large blocks of text where possible to help make it easier to consume. You can use bullet lists:

  • Item 1

  • Item 2

  • Item 3

2. Using tables

This is the syntax for creating a table. This example has one heading row and one normal row. The table has three columns

Header text column 1Header text column 2Header text column 3

Text for row 1 column 1

Text for row 1 column 2

Text for row 1 column 3

For a full description of the options available, including merging cells, and cell formatting, see the Asciidoctor docs.

To link out to content outside of the docs use a link:

To link to another page within the docs use a cross reference:

Notice the # at the end of the filename. You can place the subsection anchor there if you want to link to a subsection:

4. Code examples

Whenever possible, the how-to guide should provide examples that cover our users' most widely used languages and frameworks, unless the guide itself is specific to a particular language, platform, or framework.

Use AsciiDoc source blocks for code examples:

version: 2.1
      - image: cimg/base:2021.04
      - checkout
      - run:
          name: The First Step
          command: |
            echo 'Hello World!'
            echo 'This is the delivery pipeline'
      - run:
          name: The Second Step
          command: |
            ls -al
            echo '^^^The files in your repo^^^'

5. Banners

In technical writing we use admonitions to create blocks of content that stand out from the main flow of text. Outside the docs team we usually refer to these as banners. Currently we have the option to include notes, cautions, and warnings, as follows:

We try to use a short section in bold at the start of the admonition to try to attract the readers attention.

For more information, see the CircleCI style guide.

2. The second step

Each main step in the how-to guide should be under its own level 2 (==) heading, using the numbered list format.


End the guide with a conclusion section that summarizes what was covered.

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