Narrative documentation in Sphinx¶
Structuring your documentation across multiple pages¶
index.rst created by
sphinx-quickstart is the root
document, whose main function is to serve as a welcome page and to contain the
root of the “table of contents tree” (or toctree). Sphinx allows you to
assemble a project from different files, which is helpful when the project
As an example, create a new file
docs/source/usage.rst (next to
index.rst) with these contents:
Usage ===== Installation ------------ To use Lumache, first install it using pip: .. code-block:: console (.venv) $ pip install lumache
This new file contains two section headers, normal
paragraph text, and a
code-block directive that renders
a block of content as source code, with appropriate syntax highlighting
(in this case, generic
The structure of the document is determined by the succession of heading
styles, which means that, by using
--- for the “Installation” section
=== for the “Usage” section, you have declared “Installation” to
be a subsection of “Usage”.
To complete the process, add a
toctree directive at
the end of
index.rst including the document you just created, as follows:
Contents -------- .. toctree:: usage
This step inserts that document in the root of the toctree, so now it belongs to the structure of your project, which so far looks like this:
index └── usage
If you build the HTML documentation running
make html, you will see
toctree gets rendered as a list of hyperlinks, and this allows you
to navigate to the new page you just created. Neat!
Documents outside a toctree will result in
WARNING: document isn't
included in any toctree messages during the build process, and will be
unreachable for users.
One powerful feature of Sphinx is the ability to seamlessly add cross-references to specific parts of the documentation: a document, a section, a figure, a code object, etc. This tutorial is full of them!
To add a cross-reference, write this sentence right after the
introduction paragraph in
Check out the :doc:`usage` section for further information.
doc role you used automatically
references a specific document in the project, in this case the
you created earlier.
Alternatively, you can also add a cross-reference to an arbitrary part of the
project. For that, you need to use the
ref role, and add an
explicit label that acts as a target.
For example, to reference the “Installation” subsection, add a label right before the heading, as follows:
Usage ===== .. _installation: Installation ------------ ...
And make the sentence you added in
index.rst look like this:
Check out the :doc:`usage` section for further information, including how to :ref:`install <installation>` the project.
Notice a trick here: the
install part specifies how the link will look like
(we want it to be a specific word, so the sentence makes sense), whereas the
<installation> part refers to the actual label we want to add a
cross-reference to. If you do not include an explicit title, hence using
:ref:`installation`, the section title will be used (in this case,
Installation). Both the
:doc: and the
:ref: roles will be rendered
as hyperlinks in the HTML documentation.
What about documenting code objects in Sphinx? Read on!