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Learn X in Y minutes

Where X=restructured text (RST)

RST, Restructured Text, is a file format created by the Python community to write documentation. It is part of Docutils.

RST is a markup language like HTML but is much more lightweight and easier to read.


To use Restructured Text, you will have to install Python and the docutils package.

docutils can be installed using the commandline:

$ easy_install docutils

If your system has pip, you can use it too:

$ pip install docutils

File syntax

A simple example of the file syntax:

.. Lines starting with two dots are special commands. But if no command can be found, the line is considered as a comment.

Main titles are written using equals signs over and under

Note that each character, including spaces, needs an equals sign above and below.

Titles also use equals signs but are only underneath

Subtitles with dashes

You can put text in *italic* or in **bold**, you can "mark" text as code with double backquote ``print()``.

Special characters can be escaped using a backslash, e.g. \\ or \*.

Lists are similar to Markdown, but a little more involved.

Remember to line up list symbols (like - or \*) with the left edge of the previous text block, and remember to use blank lines to separate new lists from parent lists:    

- First item
- Second item

  - Sub item

- Third item


* First item
* Second item

  * Sub item

* Third item

Tables are really easy to write:

=========== ========
Country     Capital
=========== ========
France      Paris
Japan       Tokyo
=========== ========

More complex tables can be done easily (merged columns and/or rows) but I suggest you to read the complete doc for this. :)

There are multiple ways to make links:

- By adding an underscore after a word : GitHub_ and by adding the target URL after the text (this way has the advantage of not inserting unnecessary URLs in the visible text).
- By typing a full comprehensible URL : (will be automatically converted to a link).
- By making a more Markdown-like link: `GitHub <>`_ .

.. _GitHub:

How to Use It

RST comes with docutils where you have rst2html, for example:

$ rst2html myfile.rst output.html

Note : On some systems the command could be

But there are more complex applications that use the RST format:


Got a suggestion? A correction, perhaps? Open an Issue on the GitHub Repo, or make a pull request yourself!

Originally contributed by DamienVGN, and updated by 10 contributors.