Getting Started

This document will show you how to get up and running with Read the Docs. You will have your docs imported on Read the Docs in 5 minutes, displayed beautifully for the world.

If you are already using Sphinx or Markdown for your docs, skip ahead to Import Your Docs.

Write Your Docs

You have two options for formatting your documentation:

In reStructuredText

There is a screencast that will help you get started if you prefer.

Sphinx is a tool that makes it easy to create beautiful documentation. Assuming you have Python already, install Sphinx:

$ pip install sphinx sphinx-autobuild

Create a directory inside your project to hold your docs:

$ cd /path/to/project
$ mkdir docs

Run sphinx-quickstart in there:

$ cd docs
$ sphinx-quickstart

This quick start will walk you through creating the basic configuration; in most cases, you can just accept the defaults. When it’s done, you’ll have an index.rst, a and some other files. Add these to revision control.

Now, edit your index.rst and add some information about your project. Include as much detail as you like (refer to the reStructuredText syntax or this template if you need help). Build them to see how they look:

$ make html


You can use sphinx-autobuild to auto-reload your docs. Run sphinx-autobuild . _build_html instead.

Edit your files and rebuild until you like what you see, then commit your changes and push to your public repository. Once you have Sphinx documentation in a public repository, you can start using Read the Docs.

In Markdown

You can use Markdown and reStructuredText in the same Sphinx project. We support this natively on Read the Docs, and you can do it locally:

$ pip install recommonmark

Then in your

from recommonmark.parser import CommonMarkParser

source_parsers = {
    '.md': CommonMarkParser,

source_suffix = ['.rst', '.md']


Markdown doesn’t support a lot of the features of Sphinx, like inline markup and directives. However, it works for basic prose content. reStructuredText is the preferred format for technical documentation, please read this blog post for motivation.

Import Your Docs

Sign up for an account on RTD, then log in. Visit your dashboard and click Import to add your project to the site. Fill in the name and description, then specify where your repository is located. This is normally the URL or path name you’d use to checkout, clone, or branch your code. Some examples:

  • Git:
  • Subversion:
  • Mercurial:
  • Bazaar: lp:pasta

Add an optional homepage URL and some tags, then click “Create”.

Within a few seconds your code will automatically be fetched from your public repository, and the documentation will be built. Check out our Build Process page to learn more about how we build your docs, and to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

If you want to keep your code updated as you commit, configure your code repository to hit our Post Commit Hooks. This will rebuild your docs every time you push your code.

We support multiple versions of your code. You can read more about how to use this well on our Versions page.

If you have any more trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. The Support page has more information on getting in touch.