This is the documentation for the Sphinx documentation builder. Sphinx is a tool that translates a set of reStructuredText source files into various output formats, automatically producing cross-references, indices etc. That is, if you have a directory containing a bunch of reST-formatted documents (and possibly subdirectories of docs in there as well), Sphinx can generate a nicely-organized arrangement of HTML files (in some other directory) for easy browsing and navigation. But from the same source, it can also generate a LaTeX file that you can compile into a PDF version of the documents, or a PDF file directly using rst2pdf.

The focus is on hand-written documentation, rather than auto-generated API docs. Though there is support for that kind of docs as well (which is intended to be freely mixed with hand-written content), if you need pure API docs have a look at Epydoc, which also understands reST.

For a great “introduction” to writing docs in general – the whys and hows, see also Write the docs, written by Eric Holscher.

Conversion from other systems

This section is intended to collect helpful hints for those wanting to migrate to reStructuredText/Sphinx from other documentation systems.

  • Gerard Flanagan has written a script to convert pure HTML to reST; it can be found at the Python Package Index.
  • For converting the old Python docs to Sphinx, a converter was written which can be found at the Python SVN repository. It contains generic code to convert Python-doc-style LaTeX markup to Sphinx reST.
  • Marcin Wojdyr has written a script to convert Docbook to reST with Sphinx markup; it is at Google Code.
  • Christophe de Vienne wrote a tool to convert from Open/LibreOffice documents to Sphinx: odt2sphinx.
  • To convert different markups, Pandoc is a very helpful tool.

Use with other systems

See the pertinent section in the FAQ list.


Sphinx needs at least Python 2.7 or Python 3.4 to run, as well as the docutils and Jinja2 libraries. Sphinx should work with docutils version 0.10 or some (not broken) SVN trunk snapshot. If you like to have source code highlighting support, you must also install the Pygments library.


See First Steps with Sphinx for an introduction. It also contains links to more advanced sections in this manual for the topics it discusses.