Document header

reStructuredText Test Document

Examples of Syntax Constructs


David Goodger

123 Example Street
Example, EX  Canada
A1B 2C3




Now, or yesterday. Or maybe even before yesterday.
This is a "work in progress"
is managed by a version control system.
field name

This is a "generic bibliographic field".

field name "2"

Generic bibliographic fields may contain multiple body elements.

Like this.


For Docutils users & co-developers.


This is a test document, containing at least one example of each reStructuredText construct.

Table of Contents

1 Structural Elements

1.1 Section Title

Section Subtitle

Lone subsections are converted to a section subtitle by a transform activated with the --section-subtitles command line option or the sectsubtitle-xform configuration value.

1.3 Transitions

Here's a transition:

It divides the section. Transitions may also occur between sections:

2 Body Elements

2.1 Paragraphs

A paragraph.

2.1.1 Inline Markup

Paragraphs contain text and may contain inline markup: emphasis, strong emphasis, inline literals, standalone hyperlinks (, external hyperlinks (Python [5]), internal cross-references (example), external hyperlinks with embedded URIs (Python web site), anonymous hyperlink references [5] (a second reference [9]), footnote references (manually numbered [1], anonymous auto-numbered [3], labeled auto-numbered [2], or symbolic [*]), citation references ([CIT2002]), substitution references (EXAMPLE), and inline hyperlink targets (see Targets below for a reference back to here). Character-level inline markup is also possible (although exceedingly ugly!) in reStructuredText. Problems are indicated by |problematic| text (generated by processing errors; this one is intentional). Here is a reference to the doctitle and the subtitle.

The default role for interpreted text is Title Reference. Here are some explicit interpreted text roles: a PEP reference (PEP 287); an RFC reference (RFC 2822); an abbreviation (abb.), an acronym (reST), code (print "hello world"); a subscript; a superscript and explicit roles for Docutils' standard inline markup.

Let's test wrapping and whitespace significance in inline literals: This is an example of --inline-literal --text, --including some-- strangely--hyphenated-words. Adjust-the-width-of-your-browser-window to see how the text is wrapped. -- ---- -------- Now note the spacing between the words of this sentence (words should be grouped in pairs).

If the --pep-references option was supplied, there should be a live link to PEP 258 here.

2.2 Bullet Lists

  • A bullet list

    • Nested bullet list.

    • Nested item 2.

  • Item 2.

    Paragraph 2 of item 2.

    • Nested bullet list.

    • Nested item 2.

      • Third level.

      • Item 2.

    • Nested item 3.

    • This nested list should be compacted by the HTML writer.

2.3 Enumerated Lists

  1. Arabic numerals.

    1. lower alpha)

      1. (lower roman)

        1. upper alpha.

          1. upper roman)

  2. Lists that don't start at 1:

    1. Three

    2. Four

    1. C

    2. D

    1. iii

    2. iv

2.4 Definition Lists




Definition paragraph 1.

Definition paragraph 2.



Termclassifier oneclassifier two


2.5 Field Lists


Field lists map field names to field bodies, like database records. They are often part of an extension syntax. They are an unambiguous variant of RFC 2822 fields.

how arg1 arg2

The field marker is a colon, the field name, and a colon.

The field body may contain one or more body elements, indented relative to the field marker.


This paragraph has the credits class set. (This is actually not about credits but just for ensuring that the class attribute doesn't get stripped away.)

2.6 Option Lists

For listing command-line options:


command-line option "a"

-b file

options can have arguments and long descriptions


options can be long also


long options can also have arguments


The description can also start on the next line.

The description may contain multiple body elements, regardless of where it starts.

-x, -y, -z

Multiple options are an "option group".

-v, --verbose

Commonly-seen: short & long options.

-1 file, --one=file, --two file

Multiple options with arguments.


DOS/VMS-style options too

There must be at least two spaces between the option and the description.

2.7 Literal Blocks

Literal blocks are indicated with a double-colon ("::") at the end of the preceding paragraph (over there -->). They can be indented:

if literal_block:
    text = 'is left as-is'
    spaces_and_linebreaks = 'are preserved'
    markup_processing = None

Or they can be quoted without indentation:

>> Great idea!
> Why didn't I think of that?

2.8 Line Blocks

This section tests line blocks. Line blocks are body elements which consist of lines and other line blocks. Nested line blocks cause indentation.

This is a line block. It ends with a blank line.
New lines begin with a vertical bar ("|").
Line breaks and initial indent are significant, and preserved.
Continuation lines are also possible. A long line that is intended to wrap should begin with a space in place of the vertical bar.
The left edge of a continuation line need not be aligned with the left edge of the text above it.
This is a second line block.

Blank lines are permitted internally, but they must begin with a "|".

Another line block, surrounded by paragraphs:

And it's no good waiting by the window
It's no good waiting for the sun
Please believe me, the things you dream of
They don't fall in the lap of no-one

Take it away, Eric the Orchestra Leader!

A one, two, a one two three four

Half a bee, philosophically,
must, ipso facto, half not be.
But half the bee has got to be,
vis a vis its entity. D'you see?

But can a bee be said to be
or not to be an entire bee,
when half the bee is not a bee,
due to some ancient injury?


A line block, like the following poem by Christian Morgenstern, can also be centre-aligned:

Die Trichter

Zwei Trichter wandeln durch die Nacht.
Durch ihres Rumpfs verengten Schacht
fließt weißes Mondlicht
still und heiter
auf   ihren
u. s.

2.9 Block Quotes

Block quotes consist of indented body elements:

My theory by A. Elk. Brackets Miss, brackets. This theory goes as follows and begins now. All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end. That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too.

Anne Elk (Miss)

The language of a quote (like any other object) can be specified by a class attribute:

ReStructuredText est un langage de balisage léger utilisé notamment dans la documentation du langage Python.

2.10 Doctest Blocks

>>> print 'Python-specific usage examples; begun with ">>>"'
Python-specific usage examples; begun with ">>>"
>>> print '(cut and pasted from interactive Python sessions)'
(cut and pasted from interactive Python sessions)

2.11 Footnotes


A footnote contains body elements, consistently indented by at least 3 spaces.

This is the footnote's second paragraph.


Footnotes may be numbered, either manually (as in [1]) or automatically using a "#"-prefixed label. This footnote has a label so it can be referred to from multiple places, both as a footnote reference ([2]) and as a hyperlink reference.


This footnote is numbered automatically and anonymously using a label of "#" only.

This is the second paragraph.

And this is the third paragraph.


Footnotes may also use symbols, specified with a "*" label. Here's a reference to the next footnote: [†].


This footnote shows the next symbol in the sequence.


Here's an unreferenced footnote, with a reference to a nonexistent footnote: [5]_.

2.12 Citations


Citations are text-labeled footnotes. They may be rendered separately and differently from footnotes.

Here's a reference to the above, [CIT2002], and a [nonexistent]_ citation.

2.13 Targets

This paragraph is pointed to by the explicit "example" target. A reference can be found under Inline Markup, above. Inline hyperlink targets are also possible.

Section headers are implicit targets, referred to by name. See Targets, which is a subsection of Body Elements.

Explicit external targets are interpolated into references such as "Python [5]".

Targets may be indirect and anonymous. Thus this phrase may also refer to the Targets section.

Here's a `hyperlink reference without a target`_, which generates an error.

2.13.1 Duplicate Target Names

Duplicate names in section headers or other implicit targets will generate "info" (level-1) system messages. Duplicate names in explicit targets will generate "warning" (level-2) system messages.

2.13.2 Duplicate Target Names

Since there are two "Duplicate Target Names" section headers, we cannot uniquely refer to either of them by name. If we try to (like this: `Duplicate Target Names`_), an error is generated.

2.14 Directives

These are just a sample of the many reStructuredText Directives. For others, please see

2.14.1 Document Parts

An example of the "contents" directive can be seen above this section (a local, untitled table of contents) and at the beginning of the document (a document-wide table of contents).

2.14.2 Images and Figures

An image directive (also clickable -- a hyperlink reference):


Image with multiple IDs:


A centered image:


A left-aligned image:


This paragraph might flow around the image. The specific behavior depends upon the style sheet and the browser or rendering software used.

A right-aligned image:


This paragraph might flow around the image. The specific behavior depends upon the style sheet and the browser or rendering software used.

For inline images see Substitution Definitions.

Image size:

An image 2 em wide:


An image 2 em wide and 15 pixel high:


An image occupying 50% of the line width:


An image 2 cm high:


A figure is an image with a caption and/or a legend. With page-based output media, figures might float to a different position if this helps the page layout.

reStructuredText, the markup syntax

Plaintext markup syntax and parser system.


Revised, revisited, based on 're' module.


Structure-enhanced text, structuredtext.


Well it is, isn't it?

This paragraph is also part of the legend.

A left-aligned figure:

reStructuredText, the markup syntax

This is the caption.

This is the legend.

The legend may consist of several paragraphs.

This paragraph might flow around the figure.

The specific behavior depends upon the style sheet and the browser or rendering software used.

A centered figure:


This is the caption.

This is the legend.

The legend may consist of several paragraphs.

This paragraph might flow around the figure.

The specific behavior depends upon the style sheet and the browser or rendering software used.

A right-aligned figure:


This is the caption.

This is the legend.

The legend may consist of several paragraphs.

This paragraph might flow around the figure. The specific behavior depends upon the style sheet and the browser or rendering software used.

2.14.3 Admonitions


Directives at large.


Don't take any wooden nickels.


Mad scientist at work!


Does not compute.


It's bigger than a bread box.


  • Wash behind your ears.

  • Clean up your room.

  • Call your mother.

  • Back up your data.


This is a note.


15% if the service is good.


Strong prose may provoke extreme mental exertion. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

And, by the way...

You can make up your own admonition too.

2.14.4 Topics, Sidebars, and Rubrics

Sidebars are like miniature, parallel documents.

A topic is like a block quote with a title, or a self-contained section with no subsections.

Topic Title

This is a topic.

A rubric is like an informal heading that doesn't correspond to the document's structure. It is typically highlighted in red (hence the name).

This is a rubric

Topics and rubrics can be used at places where a section title is not allowed (e.g. inside a directive).

2.14.7 Compound Paragraph

Compound 1, paragraph 1.

Compound 1, paragraph 2.

  • Compound 1, list item one.

  • Compound 1, list item two.

Another compound statement:

Compound 2, a literal block:

Compound 2, literal.

Compound 2, this is a test.

Compound 3, only consisting of one paragraph.

Compound 4.
This one starts with a literal block.

Compound 4, a paragraph.

Now something really perverted -- a nested compound block. This is just to test that it works at all; the results don't have to be meaningful.

Compound 5, block 1 (a paragraph).

Compound 6, block 2 in compound 5.

Compound 6, another paragraph.

Compound 5, block 3 (a paragraph).

Compound 7, with a table inside:

Left cell, first paragraph.

Left cell, second paragraph.

Middle cell, consisting of exactly one paragraph.

Right cell.

Paragraph 2.

Paragraph 3.

Compound 7, a paragraph after the table.

Compound 7, another paragraph.

2.14.8 Parsed Literal Blocks

This is a parsed literal block.
    This line is indented.  The next line is blank.

Inline markup is supported, e.g. emphasis, strong, literal
text, sub- and superscripts,
inline formulas: A = 2πr2,
footnotes [1], hyperlink targets, and references.

2.14.9 Code

Blocks of source code can be set with the code directive. If the code language is specified, the content is parsed and tagged by the Pygments [6] syntax highlighter and can be formatted with a style sheet. (Code parsing is turned off using the syntax-highlight config setting in the test conversions in order to get identical results with/without installed Pygments highlighter.)

print 'This is Python code.'

The :number-lines: option (with optional start value) generates line numbers:

 8 # print integers from 0 to 9:
 9 for i in range(10):
10     print i

For inline code snippets, there is the code role, which can be used directly (the code will not be parsed/tagged, as the language is not known) or as base for special code roles, e.g. the LaTeX code in the next paragraph.

Docutils uses LaTeX syntax for math directives and roles: \alpha = f(x) prints α = f(x).

The :code: option of the include directive sets the included content as a code block, here the rst file header_footer.txt with line numbers:

1 .. header:: Document header
2 .. footer:: Document footer

2.15 Substitution Definitions

An inline image (EXAMPLE) example:

(Substitution definitions are not visible in the HTML source.)


Here's one:

(View the HTML source to see the comment.)

2.17 Raw text

This does not necessarily look nice, because there may be missing white space.

It's just there to freeze the behavior.

A test.Second test.
Another test with myclass set.

This is the fourth test with myrawroleclass set.

Fifth test in HTML.
Line two.

2.18 Container

paragraph 1

paragraph 2

2.19 Colspanning tables

This table has a cell spanning two columns:





A or B













2.20 Rowspanning tables

Here's a table with cells spanning several rows:

Header row, column 1 (header rows optional)

Header 2

Header 3

body row 1, column 1

column 2

column 3

body row 2

Cells may span rows.

Another rowspanning cell.

body row 3

2.21 Complex tables

Here's a complex table, which should test all features.

Header row, column 1 (header rows optional)

Header 2

Header 3

Header 4

body row 1, column 1

column 2

column 3

column 4

body row 2

Cells may span columns.

body row 3

Cells may span rows.


  • Table cells

  • contain

  • body elements.

body row 4

body row 5

Cells may also be empty: -->

2.22 List Tables

Here's a list table exercising all features:

list table with integral header






On a stick!

Crunchy Frog


If we took the bones out, it wouldn't be crunchy, now would it?

Gannet Ripple


On a stick!

2.23 Custom Roles

  • A role based on an existing role.

    one two three

  • A new role.

    one two three

  • A role with class attribute.

    interpreted text

  • A language-switching role:

    Let's count in German eins zwei drei.

  • A role with multiple class attributes, styled with raw directives:

    The following works in most browsers but does not validate (<style> is only allowed in the document head):

    .. raw:: html
      <style type="text/css"><!--
       .green {color: green;}
       .sc {font-variant: small-caps;}

    British colourful text in small-caps.

2.24 SVG Images


Scalable vector graphics (SVG) images are the only standards-compliable way to include vector graphics in HTML documents. However, they are not supported by all backends/output formats. (E.g., LaTeX supports the PDF or Postscript formats for vector graphics instead.)

Rendering behaviour varies, depending on

  1. The SVG image itself, e.g. fixed-size vs. scaling:

    width="280"              viewBox="0 0 280 27"
    height="27"              width="100%"
  2. The method used to put the image in the document.

    For HTML, there are several alternatives including:

    • using the HTML <img> tag (not for interactive/animated SVG),

    • using the HTML <object> tag,

    • including within SVG using the SVG <image> tag,

    • embedd the SVG code within HTML (inlining).

    The html4css1 writer uses <object> tags, the html-base and xhtml11 writers use <img> tags.

  3. The viewing agent.

    All up-to-date HTML browsers support SVG, however not all do this fully and in the same manner. Many older versions, especially IE < 9, have deficiencies or require plug-ins (i.e. don't support the <img> tag).

If the image is wrapped in <object> or <svg> tags, it depends on the viewBox declaration inside the images root <svg> element whether an SVG image is scaled or clipped/padded. Images wrapped in <img> are always scaled.

  • ../../../docs/user/rst/images/title-scaling.svg

    A scaling image (scales with the browser window), occupying 50% of the line width. The viewBox setting in the image file enables auto-scaling also in <object> tags and embedded SVG (if width and hight are set to 100% in the SVG <image> tag).

  • ../../../docs/user/rst/images/title.svg

    A fixed-size image in a box 50% wide and 15 pixles high. This image is scaled, if wrapped in an <img> tag but clipped in an <object> tag or within SVG.

  • ../../../docs/user/rst/images/title-scaling.svg

    A right aligned, scaling image 50% wide and 1.5 em high. (This SVG image keeps the aspect ratio.)

  • An inline image inline-svg scaled to a height of 0.8 em.

  • ../../../docs/user/rst/images/biohazard-scaling.svg

    A scaling image 1 em high, right aligned:

  • A scaling image 5 mm x 5 mm, centered, with hyperlink reference:

  • ../../../docs/user/rst/images/biohazard.svg

    A fixed-size image in a 4 cm x 2 em box.

Older versions of webkit based browsers (chromium, safari, midori, konqueror) support the <img> tag but don't display contained bitmap images in this case.

  • ../../../docs/user/rst/images/biohazard-bitmap.svg

    A small, fixed-size SVG image with embedded bitmap, The :width: is set to 3 em in the rST source. Does not scale if wrapped in <object> tags.

  • ../../../docs/user/rst/images/biohazard-bitmap-scaling.svg

    A scaling SVG image with embedded bitmap, 3 em wide.

SVG images can also be put in figures:

reStructuredText, the markup syntax

Figure: SVG image in a figure.

2.25 SWF Images

Shockwave Flash is an image/movie format that most modern web browsers support via a plugin. It is sometimes blocked due to privacy/security concerns.

Images with extension .swf are placed inside <object> elements. For complete control over display options use raw HTML.


An SWF image in a 4 cm x 2 em box, left aligned.

An inline SWF image inline-swf scaled to 0.8 em x 0.8 em.

3 Changes to the html4css1 writer

3.1 Field list handling

The following list demonstrates the problems with the html4css1 approach: the field-name-limit setting is given in "number of characters" but the field name uses a proportional font.

The field name

is typeset on the same line, unless it is "long".

this field name

is considered "long" in the html table rendering by the html4css1 writer with the default setting of --field-name-limit=14.


a field name that is considered "long" by html4css1 with the default setting of field-name-limit: 14.


a field name that is actually longer than the previous one but regarded "short" by html4css1.

With html_base, a field list is typeset as CSS-styled definition list. The default layout is similar to the look with html4css1:

A long field name

sticks into the field body.

The field body is pushed to the next line (you can suppress this behaviour with the run-in class argument).


of the field name width is possible with CSS instead of the field-name-limit configuration setting, for example:

dl.field-list > dd { margin-left: 6em; }

3.2 Styling with class arguments

The plain.css style sheet comes with some pre-defined style variants that can be choosen via a class argument.

3.2.1 Description lists

Definition lists with the "description" class argument:

description lists

Definition lists that are styled like in most dictionaries, encyclopedias etc. (as well as the LaTeX description environment).


The term to be described. Put in boldface.


Starts on the same line and has a hanging indent.

3.2.2 Field list variants

For field lists, the "compact/open", "narrow" and "run-in" styles are defined.


No additional space between list items.


The --compact-field-lists command line option (and the corresponding configuration setting) set the compact class argument on all "simple" field lists, if not overridden with open.


For lists with short field body.


Additional space between list items also in "simple" lists. (Overrides the --compact-field-lists command line option and the corresponding configuration setting)


For "simple" lists that should keep the space between list items.


Less indented field body.


For lists with short field names.

A long field name

sticks into the field body and the field body starts on a new line (if not combined with run-in).


Field body starts on the same line also after long field names.

A long field name

sticks into the field body which continues on the same line.

The next field name

and field body should align. Long text in the field body is wrapped and aligns with other fields.

3.2.3 Table variants

The following styles can be applied to individual tables via a class argument or as document wide setting with the table-style [7] configuration setting (or command line argument).

Numbered tables can be achieved with the "numbered" class option

truth values



A or B













Currently, referencing to the table by number is not supported. This is a common request and already on the TODO list.

A table with "booktabs" class argument, is rendered similar to the style from the booktabs [8] LaTeX package.













This table also uses the "align-left" class argument, to left-align the headers:



A or B













Of course, also "booktabs" style tables can be numbered:

I/O values





A or B













4 Error Handling

Any errors caught during processing will generate system messages.

There should be five messages in the following, auto-generated section, "Docutils System Messages":

Docutils System Messages

System Message: ERROR/3 (functional/input/data/standard.txt, line 104); backlink

Undefined substitution referenced: "problematic".

System Message: ERROR/3 (functional/input/data/standard.txt, line 391); backlink

Unknown target name: "5".

System Message: ERROR/3 (functional/input/data/standard.txt, line 400); backlink

Unknown target name: "nonexistent".

System Message: ERROR/3 (functional/input/data/standard.txt, line 427); backlink

Unknown target name: "hyperlink reference without a target".

System Message: ERROR/3 (functional/input/data/standard.txt, line 440); backlink

Duplicate target name, cannot be used as a unique reference: "duplicate target names".