perlpodstyle


DESCRIPTION
       These are general guidelines for how to write POD documentation for
       Perl scripts and modules, based on general guidelines for writing good
       UNIX man pages.  All of these guidelines are, of course, optional, but
       following them will make your documentation more consistent with other
       documentation on the system.

       The name of the program being documented is conventionally written in
       bold (using B<>) wherever it occurs, as are all program options.
       Arguments should be written in italics (I<>).  Function names are
       traditionally written in italics; if you write a function as
       function(), Pod::Man will take care of this for you.  Literal code or
       commands should be in C<>.  References to other man pages should be in
       the form "manpage(section)" or "L<manpage(section)>", and Pod::Man will
       automatically format those appropriately.  The second form, with L<>,
       is used to request that a POD formatter make a link to the man page if
       possible.  As an exception, one normally omits the section when
       referring to module documentation since it's not clear what section
       module documentation will be in; use "L<Module::Name>" for module
       references instead.

       References to other programs or functions are normally in the form of
       man page references so that cross-referencing tools can provide the
       user with links and the like.  It's possible to overdo this, though, so
       be careful not to clutter your documentation with too much markup.
       References to other programs that are not given as man page references
       should be enclosed in B<>.

       The major headers should be set out using a "=head1" directive, and are
       historically written in the rather startling ALL UPPER CASE format;
       this is not mandatory, but it's strongly recommended so that sections
       have consistent naming across different software packages.  Minor
       headers may be included using "=head2", and are typically in mixed
       case.

       The standard sections of a manual page are:

       NAME
           Mandatory section; should be a comma-separated list of programs or
           functions documented by this POD page, such as:

               foo, bar - programs to do something

           Manual page indexers are often extremely picky about the format of
           this section, so don't put anything in it except this line.  Every
           program or function documented by this POD page should be listed,
           separated by a comma and a space.  For a Perl module, just give the
           module name.  A single dash, and only a single dash, should
           separate the list of programs or functions from the description.
           Do not use any markup such as C<> or B<> anywhere in this line.
           Functions should not be qualified with "()" or the like.  The
           description should ideally fit on a single line, even if a man
           program replaces the dash with a few tabs.
           subsections "=head2" directives like:

               =head2 Normal Usage

               =head2 Advanced Features

               =head2 Writing Configuration Files

           or whatever is appropriate for your documentation.

           For a module, this is generally where the documentation of the
           interfaces provided by the module goes, usually in the form of a
           list with an "=item" for each interface.  Depending on how many
           interfaces there are, you may want to put that documentation in
           separate METHODS, FUNCTIONS, CLASS METHODS, or INSTANCE METHODS
           sections instead and save the DESCRIPTION section for an overview.

       OPTIONS
           Detailed description of each of the command-line options taken by
           the program.  This should be separate from the description for the
           use of parsers like Pod::Usage.  This is normally presented as a
           list, with each option as a separate "=item".  The specific option
           string should be enclosed in B<>.  Any values that the option takes
           should be enclosed in I<>.  For example, the section for the option
           --section=manext would be introduced with:

               =item B<--section>=I<manext>

           Synonymous options (like both the short and long forms) are
           separated by a comma and a space on the same "=item" line, or
           optionally listed as their own item with a reference to the
           canonical name.  For example, since --section can also be written
           as -s, the above would be:

               =item B<-s> I<manext>, B<--section>=I<manext>

           Writing the short option first is recommended because it's easier
           to read.  The long option is long enough to draw the eye to it
           anyway and the short option can otherwise get lost in visual noise.

       RETURN VALUE
           What the program or function returns, if successful.  This section
           can be omitted for programs whose precise exit codes aren't
           important, provided they return 0 on success and non-zero on
           failure as is standard.  It should always be present for functions.
           For modules, it may be useful to summarize return values from the
           module interface here, or it may be more useful to discuss return
           values separately in the documentation of each function or method
           the module provides.

       ERRORS
           Exceptions, error return codes, exit statuses, and errno settings.
           Typically used for function or module documentation; program
           documentation uses DIAGNOSTICS instead.  The general rule of thumb
           If applicable, please include details on what the user should do to
           correct the error; documenting an error as indicating "the input
           buffer is too small" without telling the user how to increase the
           size of the input buffer (or at least telling them that it isn't
           possible) aren't very useful.

       EXAMPLES
           Give some example uses of the program or function.  Don't skimp;
           users often find this the most useful part of the documentation.
           The examples are generally given as verbatim paragraphs.

           Don't just present an example without explaining what it does.
           Adding a short paragraph saying what the example will do can
           increase the value of the example immensely.

       ENVIRONMENT
           Environment variables that the program cares about, normally
           presented as a list using "=over", "=item", and "=back".  For
           example:

               =over 6

               =item HOME

               Used to determine the user's home directory.  F<.foorc> in this
               directory is read for configuration details, if it exists.

               =back

           Since environment variables are normally in all uppercase, no
           additional special formatting is generally needed; they're glaring
           enough as it is.

       FILES
           All files used by the program or function, normally presented as a
           list, and what it uses them for.  File names should be enclosed in
           F<>.  It's particularly important to document files that will be
           potentially modified.

       CAVEATS
           Things to take special care with, sometimes called WARNINGS.

       BUGS
           Things that are broken or just don't work quite right.

       RESTRICTIONS
           Bugs you don't plan to fix.  :-)

       NOTES
           Miscellaneous commentary.

       AUTHOR
           Who wrote it (use AUTHORS for multiple people).  It's a good idea
           to include your current e-mail address (or some e-mail address to

               Copyright YEAR(s) YOUR NAME(s)

           (No, (C) is not needed.  No, "all rights reserved" is not needed.)

           For licensing the easiest way is to use the same licensing as Perl
           itself:

               This library is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify
               it under the same terms as Perl itself.

           This makes it easy for people to use your module with Perl.  Note
           that this licensing example is neither an endorsement or a
           requirement, you are of course free to choose any licensing.

       SEE ALSO
           Other man pages to check out, like man(1), man(7), makewhatis(8),
           or catman(8).  Normally a simple list of man pages separated by
           commas, or a paragraph giving the name of a reference work.  Man
           page references, if they use the standard "name(section)" form,
           don't have to be enclosed in L<> (although it's recommended), but
           other things in this section probably should be when appropriate.

           If the package has a mailing list, include a URL or subscription
           instructions here.

           If the package has a web site, include a URL here.

       Documentation of object-oriented libraries or modules may want to use
       CONSTRUCTORS and METHODS sections, or CLASS METHODS and INSTANCE
       METHODS sections, for detailed documentation of the parts of the
       library and save the DESCRIPTION section for an overview.  Large
       modules with a function interface may want to use FUNCTIONS for similar
       reasons.  Some people use OVERVIEW to summarize the description if it's
       quite long.

       Section ordering varies, although NAME must always be the first section
       (you'll break some man page systems otherwise), and NAME, SYNOPSIS,
       DESCRIPTION, and OPTIONS generally always occur first and in that order
       if present.  In general, SEE ALSO, AUTHOR, and similar material should
       be left for last.  Some systems also move WARNINGS and NOTES to last.
       The order given above should be reasonable for most purposes.

       Some systems use CONFORMING TO to note conformance to relevant
       standards and MT-LEVEL to note safeness for use in threaded programs or
       signal handlers.  These headings are primarily useful when documenting
       parts of a C library.

       Finally, as a general note, try not to use an excessive amount of
       markup.  As documented here and in Pod::Man, you can safely leave Perl
       variables, function names, man page references, and the like unadorned
       by markup and the POD translators will figure it out for you.  This
       makes it much easier to later edit the documentation.  Note that many
       existing translators will do the wrong thing with e-mail addresses when
       Russ Allbery <rra@stanford.edu>, with large portions of this
       documentation taken from the documentation of the original pod2man
       implementation by Larry Wall and Tom Christiansen.

COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE
       Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 Russ Allbery
       <rra@stanford.edu>.

       This documentation is free software; you may redistribute it and/or
       modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.



perl v5.14.2                      2011-09-26                   PERLPODSTYLE(1)
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