# How to contribute

🎆 🎈 First off, thanks for taking the time to contribute! 🎇 🎊

We provide you a set of guidelines for contributing to Zowe™ documentation, which are hosted in the Zowe / docs-site (opens new window) on GitHub. These are mostly guidelines, not rules. Use your best judgment, and feel free to propose content changes to this documentation.

➡️ Before you get started

➡️ Contributing to documentation

➡️ Documentation style guide

➡️ Word usage

# Before you get started

The Zowe documentation is written in Markdown markup language. Not familiar with Markdown? Learn the basic syntax (opens new window).

# Contributing to documentation

You can use one of the following ways to contribute to documentation:

  • Send a GitHub pull request to provide a suggested edit for the content by clicking the Propose content change in GitHub link on each documentation page.
  • Open an issue in GitHub to request documentation to be updated, improved, or clarified by providing a comment.

# Sending a GitHub pull request

You can provide suggested edit to any documentation page by using the Propose content change in GitHub link on each page. After you make the changes, you submit updates in a pull request for the Zowe content team to review and merge.

Follow these steps:

  1. Click Propose content change in GitHub on the page that you want to update.
  2. Make the changes to the file.
  3. Scroll to the end of the page and enter a brief description about your change.
  4. Optional: Enter an extended description.
  5. Select Propose file change.
  6. Select Create pull request.

# Opening an issue for the documentation

You can request the documentation to be improved or clarified, report an error, or submit suggestions and ideas by opening an issue in GitHub for the Zowe content team to address. The content team tracks the issues and works to address your feedback.

Follow these steps:

  1. Click the GitHub link at the top of the page.
  2. Select Issues.
  3. Click New issue.
  4. Enter a title and description for the issue.
  5. Click Submit new issue.

# Documentation Style guide

This section gives writing style guidelines for the Zowe documentation. These are guidelines, not rules. Use your best judgment, and feel free to propose content changes to this documentation in a pull request.

➡️ Headings and titles

➡️ Technical elements

➡️ Tone

➡️ Word usage

➡️ Graphics

➡️ Abbreviations

➡️ Structure and format

# Headings and titles

# Use sentence-style capitalization for headings

Capitalize only the initial letter of the first word in the text and other words that require capitalization, such as proper nouns. Examples of proper nouns include the names of specific people, places, companies, languages, protocols, and products.

Example: Verifying that your system meets the software requirements.

# For tasks and procedures, use gerunds for headings.


  • Building an API response
  • Setting the active build configuration

# For conceptual and reference information, use noun phrases for headings.


  • Query language
  • Platform and application integration

# Use headline-style capitalization for only these items:

Titles of books, CDs, videos, and stand-alone information units.


  • Installation and User's Guide
  • Quick Start Guides or discrete sets of product documentation

# Make headings brief, descriptive, grammatically parallel, and, if possible, task oriented.

If the subject is a functional overview, begin a heading with words such as Introduction or Overview rather than contriving a pseudo-task-oriented heading that begins with Understanding, Using, Introducing, or Learning.

# Technical elements

# Variables


  • Italic when used outside of code examples,

    Example: myHost

  • If wrap using angle brackets <> within code examples, italic font is not supported.


    • put <pax-file-name>.pax

    • Where pax-file-name is a variable that indicates the full name of the PAX file you download. For example, zoe-0.8.1.pax.

# Message text and prompts to the user

Style: Put messages in quotation marks.

Example: "The file does not exist."

# Code and code examples

Style: Monospace

Example: java -version

# Command names, and names of macros, programs, and utilities that you can type as commands

Style: Monospace

Example: Use the BROWSE command.

# Interface controls

Categories: check boxes, containers, fields, folders, icons, items inside list boxes, labels (such as Note:), links, list boxes, menu choices, menu names, multicolumn lists, property sheets, push buttons, radio buttons, spin buttons, and Tabs

Style: Bold

Example: From the Language menu, click the language that you want to use. The default selection is English.

# Directory names

Style: Monospace

Example: Move the install.exe file into the newuser directory.

# File names, file extensions, and script names

Style: Monospace


  • Run the install.exe file.
  • Extract all the data from the .zip file.

# Search or query terms

Style: Monospace

Example: In the Search field, enter Zowe.

Categories: Chapter titles and section titles, entries within a blog, references to industry standards, and topic titles in IBM Knowledge Center

Style: Double quotation marks


  • See the "Measuring the true performance of a cloud" entry in the Thoughts on Cloud blog.
  • See "XML Encryption Syntax and Processing" on the W3C website.
  • For installation information, see "Installing the product" in IBM Knowledge Center.

# Tone

# Use simple present tense rather than future or past tense, as much as possible.


✔️ The API returns a promise.

❌ The API will return a promise.

# Use simple past tense if past tense is needed.


✔️ The limit was exceeded.

❌ The limit has been exceeded.

# Use active voice as much as possible


✔️ In the Limits window, specify the minimum and maximum values.

❌ The Limits window is used to specify the minimum and maximum values.

Exceptions: Passive voice is acceptable when any of these conditions are true:

  • The system performs the action.

  • It is more appropriate to focus on the receiver of the action.

  • You want to avoid blaming the user for an error, such as in an error message.

  • The information is clearer in passive voice.


    ✔️ The file was deleted.

    ❌ You deleted the file.

# Using second person such as "you" instead of first person such as "we" and "our".

In most cases, use second person ("you") to speak directly to the reader.

# End sentences with prepositions selectively

Use a preposition at the end of a sentence to avoid an awkward or stilted construction.


✔️ Click the item that you want to search for.

❌ Click the item for which you want to search.

# Avoid using "Please", "thank you"

In technical information, avoid terms of politeness such as "please" and "thank you". "Please" is allowed in UI only when the user is being inconvenienced.

Example: Indexing might take a few minutes. Please wait.

# Avoid anthropomorphism.

Focus technical information on users and their actions, not on a product and its actions.


✔️ User focus: On the Replicator page, you can synchronize your local database with replica databases.

❌ Product focus: The Replicator page lets you synchronize your local database with replica databases.

# Avoid complex sentences that overuse punctuation such as commas and semicolons.

# Word usage

# Note headings such as Note, Important, and Tip should be formatted using the lower case and bold format.


  • Note:
  • Important!
  • Tip:

# Use of "following"

For whatever list or steps we are introducing, the word "following" should precede a noun.


  • Before a procedure, use "Follow these steps:"
  • The <component_name> supports the following use cases:
  • Before you intall Zowe, review the following prerequisite installation tasks:

Avoid ending the sentence with "following".


❌ Complete the following.

✔️ Complete the following tasks.

# Use a consistent style for referring to version numbers.

When talking about a specific version, capitalize the first letter of Version.


✔️ Java Version 8.1 or Java V8.1

❌ Java version 8.1, Java 8.1, or Java v8.1

When just talking about version, use "version" in lower case.

Example: Use the latest version of Java.

# Avoid "may"

Use "can" to indicate ability, or use "might" to indicate possibility.


  • Indicating ability:

    ✔️ You can use the command line interface to update your application."

    ❌ "You may use the command line interface to update your application."

  • Indicating possibility:

    ✔️ "You might need more advanced features when you are integrating with another application. "

    ❌ "You may need more advanced features when you are integrating with another application."

# Use "issue" when you want to say "run/enter" a command.

Example: At a command prompt, type the following command:

# Graphics

  • Use graphics sparingly.

    Use graphics only when text cannot adequately convey information or when the graphic enhances the meaning of the text.

  • When the graphic contains translatable text, ensure you include the source file for the graphic to the doc repository for future translation considerations.

# Abbreviations

# Do not use an abbreviation as a noun unless the sentence makes sense when you substitute the spelled-out form of the term.


❌ The tutorials are available as PDFs. [portable document formats]

✔️ The tutorials are available as PDF files.

# Do not use abbreviations as verbs.


❌ You can FTP the files to the server.

✔️ You can use the FTP command to send the files to the server.

# Do not use Latin abbreviations.

Use their English equivalents instead. Latin abbreviations are sometimes misunderstood.

Latin English equivalent
e.g. for example
etc. and so on.
When you list a clear sequence of elements such as "1, 2, 3, and so on" and "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on." Otherwise, rewrite the sentence to replace "etc." with something more descriptive such as "and other output."
i.e. that is

# Spell out the full name and its abbreviation when the word appears for the first time. Use abbreviations in the texts that follow.

Example: Mainframe Virtual Desktop (MVD)

# Structure and format

Add "More information" to link to useful resources or related topics at the end of topics where necessary.

# Word usage

The following table alphabetically lists the common used words and their usage guidelines.

Do Don't
API Mediation Layer
application app
Capitalize "Server" when it's part of the product name
data set dataset
Java java
IBM z/OS Managemnt Facility (z/OSMF)
zosmf (unless used in syntax)
ID id
PAX pax
personal computer
later higher
Do not use to describe versions of software or fix packs.
macOS MacOS
Node.js node.js
plug-in plugin
UNIX System Services
z/OS UNIX System Services
Zowe CLI