Almost all text on GitHub is processed through a markup language called Markdown. It is a way to style text on the web by controlling the display of the document, formatting words as bold or italic, adding images and creating lists. Mostly, Markdown is just regular text with a few non-alphabetic characters, such as # or *. More information on Markdown can be found here: https://guides.github.com/features/mastering-markdown/.
It is possible to restrict access to a repository by choosing the visibility: public (accessible to everyone on the internet) or private (only accessible to you and people you explicitly share access with).
Good documentation is key to the success of any project. Making documentation accessible enables people to learn about a project; making it easy to update ensures that documentation stays relevant.
Two common ways to document a project are README files and wikis:
- README files are a quick and simple way for other users to learn more about your work.
- Project name: Your project’s name is the first thing people will see upon scrolling down to your README, and is included upon creation of your README file.
- Description: A description of your project follows. A good description is clear, short, and to the point. Describe the importance of your project, and what it does.
- Table of Contents: Optionally, include a table of contents in order to allow other people to quickly navigate especially long or detailed READMEs.
- Installation: Installation is the next section in an effective README. Tell other users how to install your project locally, by listing each program, library and package, and also the exact versions of each of these that were used for the project. Optionally, include a gif to make the process even more clear for other people.
- Usage: The next section is usage, in which you instruct other people on how to use your project after they’ve installed it. This would also be a good place to include screenshots of your project in action.
- Contributing: Larger projects often have sections on contributing to their project, in which contribution instructions are outlined. Sometimes, this is a separate file. If you have specific contribution preferences, explain them so that other developers know how to best contribute to your work. To learn more about how to help others contribute, check out the guide for setting guidelines for repository contributors.
- Credits: Include a section for credits in order to highlight and link to the authors of your project.
- Wikis on GitHub help you present in-depth information about your project in a useful way.
It’s a good idea to at least have a README on your project, because it’s the first thing many people will read when they first find your work.