To use Releases, mimic the format seen in its own changelog or in Fabric’s changelog. Specifically:

  • Install releases and update your Sphinx to include it in the extensions list setting: extensions = ['releases'].

    • Also set the releases_release_uri and releases_issue_uri top level options - they determine the targets of the issue & release links in the HTML output. Both should have an unevaluated %s where the release/issue number would go.

      • Alternately, if your project is hosted on Github, set the releases_github_path setting instead, to e.g. account/project. Releases will then use an appropriate Github URL for both releases and issues.
      • If releases_release_uri or releases_issue_uri are also configured, they will be preferred over releases_github_path. (If only one is configured, the other link type will continue using releases_github_path.)
    • See Fabric’s docs/ for an example.

    • You may optionally set releases_debug = True to see debug output while building your docs.

    • If your changelog includes “simple” pre-1.0 releases derived from a single branch (i.e. without stable release lines & semantic versioning) you may want to set releases_unstable_prehistory = True.

      • This is also useful if you’ve just imported a non-Releases changelog, where your issues are all basic list-items and you don’t want to go through and add bug/feature/support/etc roles.
      • See the appropriate conceptual docs for details on this behavior.
  • Create a Sphinx document named changelog.rst containing a bulleted list somewhere at its topmost level.

    • If you wish to use a different document name, use another config option (as per previous bullet point), releases_document_name. E.g. releases_document_name = "CHANGES" would cause Releases to mutate a file called CHANGES.rst instead of changelog.rst.
    • Elements before or after this bulleted list will be untouched by Releases, allowing you to place e.g. paragraphs, comments etc at the top (or bottom) of the document.
  • List items are to be ordered chronologically with the newest ones on top.

    • As you fix issues, put them on the top of the list.
    • As you cut releases, put those on the top of the list and they will include the issues below them.
    • Issues with no releases above them will end up in a specially marked “Unreleased” section of the rendered changelog.
  • Bullet list items should use the support, feature or bug roles to mark issues, or release to mark a release. These special roles must be the first element in each list item.

    • Line-items that do not start with any issue role will be considered bugs (both in terms of inclusion in releases, and formatting) and, naturally, will not be given a hyperlink.
  • Issue roles are of the form :type:`number[ keyword]`. Specifically:

    • number is used to generate the link to the actual issue in your issue tracker (going by the releases_issue_uri option). It’s used for both the link target & (part of) the link text.

    • If number is given as - or 0 (as opposed to a “real” issue number), no issue link will be generated. You can use this for items without a related issue.

    • Keywords are optional and may be one of:

      • backported: Given on support or feature issues to denote backporting to bugfix releases; such issues will show up in both release types. E.g. placing :support:`123 backported` in your changelog below releases ‘1.1.1’ and ‘1.2.0’ will cause it to appear in both of those releases’ lists.
      • major: Given on bug issues to denote inclusion in feature, instead of bugfix, releases. E.g. placing :bug:`22 major` below releases ‘1.1.1’ and ‘1.2.0’ will cause it to appear in ‘1.2.0’ only.
      • (N.N+) where N.N is a valid release line, e.g. 1.1 or 2.10: Given on issues (usually bugs) to denote minimum release line. E.g. when actively backporting most bugs to release lines 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4, you might specify :bug:`55 (1.3+)` to note that bug 55 only applies to releases in 1.3 and above - not 1.2.
      • A semantic version range spec covering minor+major version numbers such as (<2.0) or (>=1.0,<3.1). A more powerful version of (N.N+) allowing annotation of issues belonging to specific major versions.


      It is possible to give both a regular keyword (backported/major) and a spec ((N.N+)/(>=1.0)) in the same issue. However, giving two keywords or two specs at the same time makes no sense & is not allowed.

  • Regular Sphinx content may be given after issue roles and will be preserved as-is when rendering. For example, in :bug:`123` Fixed a bug, thanks `@somebody`!, the rendered changelog will preserve/render “Fixed a bug, thanks @somebody!” after the issue link.

  • Release roles are of the form :release:`number <date>`.

    • You may place a comma-separated (whitespace optional) list of issue numbers after the release role, and this will limit the issues included in that release to that explicit list.
    • Otherwise, releases include all relevant issues as outlined above and in Concepts.

Then build your docs; in the rendered output, changelog.html should show issues grouped by release, as per the above rules. Examples: Releases’ own rendered changelog, Fabric’s rendered changelog.

Optional styling additions

If you have any nontrivial changelog entries (e.g. whose description spans multiple paragraphs or includes their own bulleted lists, etc) you may run into docutils’ rather enthusiastic bulleted list massaging which can then make your releases look different from one another.

To help combat this, it may be useful to add the following rule to the Sphinx theme you’re using:

div#changelog > div.section > ul > li > p:only-child {
    margin-bottom: 0;


Some themes, like Alabaster, may already include this style rule.