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Style Guide

Writing style guide to help creating consistent documentation for GeoNetwork.

This style guide is useful as a reference when reviewing pull-requests for documentation.

Content conventions

Be concise

Documentation should be concise and not just a brain dump. Reference material should contain short pages and be easy to refer to without having to scroll through a large volume of text. Tutorials can be longer, depending on scope. If the point of the document is to share your thoughts and insights, it belongs in a blog post. This documentation is a manual, not a wiki.

Avoid marketing

If the point of the document is to showcase a new feature it does not belong in the documentation. Write an article or a blog post about it. If it is necessary to point out a technical benefit of a feature then do so from a technical standpoint.


Sub-Portals are a great way to provide a team with their own catalogue!


Sub-Portals define a distinct catalogue for use.

Be professional

Avoid the use of slang or other "colorful" language. The point of a technical document is to be informative, not to keep the reader amused. Avoiding slang helps keep the document accessible to as large an audience as possible.


  1. Next, fire up whatever tool you use to browse the web and point it in the direction of ...


  1. Next, start your web browser and navigate to ...

Use direct commands

When providing step-by-step instructions, number steps and use direct commands or requests. Avoid the use of "we" and "let's".


Now let's select a record by ...


  1. Select a record by ...

Naming conventions


Capitalization of page names

Each word in the page name should be capitalized except for articles (such as "the", "a", "an") and conjunctions (such as "and", "but", "or"). A page name should never start with an article.


Adding a wms or wfs service


Adding a WMS or WFS service


The Harvester Tutorial


Harvester Tutorial

Capitalization of section names

Do not capitalize second and subsequent words unless the title is almost always capitalized in English (like proper names). Thus, capitalize John Wayne and Art Nouveau, but not Video Games.


Creating a New Record


Creating a new record

Verb usage

It is recommended that the gerund (the -ing form in English) be used unless there is a more common noun form. For example, an article on swimming is better than one on swim.


Create a new datastore


Creating a new datastore

Avoid plurals

Create page titles that are in the singular. Exceptions to this are nouns that are always plural (scissors, trousers), a small class that requires a plural (polar coordinates, Bantu languages, The Beatles).


templates tutorial


Template tutorial


Code and command line

Any code or command line snippets should be formatted as code:

   code: 'This is a code block.'

When lines are longer than 80 characters, extend multiple lines in a format appropriate for the language in use. If possible, snippets should be functional when pasted directly into the appropriate target.

For example, XML make no distinction between a single space and multiple spaces, so the following snippets are fine:

   <namespace:tagname attributename="attributevalue" attribute2="attributevalue"
      nextattribute="this is on another line"/>

For shell scripts, new lines can be escaped with a backslash character (\).

mvn clean install \

It is helpful to seperate out input from output, so that the command can be easily copied as shown above.

Terminology conventions

This section concerns the language or terminology used for each section of our documentation.

Online Help

The readers for online-help are visitors to a website, focused on finding information.

The online help is used by a wide range of organisations and is intended to be read by members of the public.

With this in mind please avoid using "metadata expert" language when writing online help. Indeed many visitors may not have a geospatial background and will be pleased to find a map.

  • Try and avoid using the word catalogue, as this is really just a web site or site for visitors
  • Try and avoid using the word metadata, as really this is a site providing a list of information
  • Try and avoid using the word metadata, if you really need to use record (as is done in our advanced search screen)
  • Avoid mentioning schema or iso19139 as this is expert knowledge, at best standard or national standard may be appropriate.
  • Avoid mentioning GeoNetwork


  • Visitors seek information, and are shown records about that information
  • Visitors may search for information
  • Visitors may browse or explore the list of records


The readers of the user-gude are operators responsible for the editing, review and publication of metadata records.

In addition administrators are responsible for the publication and security (including user management). This also incudes defining sub-portals to make it easier for teams to manage and publish distinct content.

Preferred terminology:

  • Catalog Home Page
  • GeoNetwork (check capitalisation please)
  • Metadata Catalog
  • Sub-Portal
  • Record (or Metadata Record please)

The word Metadata can both be singular (referencing a metadata record and plural (referencing the topic of metadata). In the same fashion data is plural while datum is singular -- but we do not have metadatum!


The readers of the maintainer-guide are system administrators responsible for the installation, integration and update of the GeoNetwork application as a whole.


  • Rather than re-explain topics like Elasticsearch optimization, provide GeoNetwork guidance with the expectation it will be used as provided. Link to references for those wishing to know more.