Grammar and formatting

Learn the syntax and formatting rules for writing documentation for the Filecoin project.

Grammar and spelling

Here are some language-specific rules that the Filecoin documentation follows. If you use a writing service like Grammarly, most of these rules are turned on by default.

American English

While Filecoin is a global project, the fact is that American English is the most commonly used style of English used today. With that in mind, when writing content for the Filecoin project, use American English spelling. The basic rules for converting other styles of English into American English are:

  1. Swap the s for a z in words like categorize and pluralize.
  2. Remove the u from words like color and honor.
  3. Swap tre for ter in words like center.

The Oxford comma

In a list of three or more items, follow each item except the last with a comma ,:

UseDon’t use
One, two, three, and four.One, two, three and four.
Henry, Elizabeth, and George.Henry, Elizabeth and George.

References to Filecoin

As a proper noun, the name “Filecoin” (capitalized) should be used only to refer to the overarching project, to the protocol, or to the project’s canonical network:

Filecoin [the project] has attracted contributors from around the globe! Filecoin [the protocol] rewards contributions of data storage instead of computation! Filecoin [the network] is currently storing 50 PiB of data!

The name can also be used as an adjective:

The Filecoin ecosystem is thriving! I love contributing to Filecoin documentation!

When referring to the token used as Filecoin’s currency, the name FIL, is preferred. It is alternatively denoted by the Unicode symbol for an integral with a double stroke ⨎:

  • Unit prefix: 100 FIL.
  • Symbol prefix: ⨎100.

The smallest and most common denomination of FIL is the attoFIL (10^-18 FIL).

The collateral for this storage deal is 5 FIL. I generated ⨎100 as a storage provider last month!

Examples of discouraged usage:

Filecoin rewards storage providers with Filecoin. There are many ways to participate in the filecoin community. My wallet has thirty filecoins.

Consistency in the usage of these terms helps keep these various concepts distinct.

References to Lotus

Lotus is the main implementation of Filecoin. As such, it is frequently referenced in the Filecoin documentation. When referring to the Lotus implementation, use a capital L. A lowercase l should only be used when referring to the Lotus executable commands such as lotus daemon. Lotus executable commands should always be within code blocks:

1. Start the Lotus daemon:

   lotus daemon

2. After your Lotus daemon has been running for a few minutes, use `lotus` to check the number of other peers that it is connected to in the Filecoin network:

   lotus net peers


If you have to use an acronym, spell the full phrase first and include the acronym in parentheses () the first time it is used in each document. Exception: This generally isn’t necessary for commonly-encountered acronyms like IPFS, unless writing for a stand-alone article that may not be presented alongside project documentation.

Virtual Machine (VM), Decentralized Web (DWeb).


How the Markdown syntax looks, and code formatting rules to follow.


The Filecoin Docs project follows the GitHub Flavoured Markdown syntax for markdown. This way, all articles display properly within GitHub itself. This gives readers the option to view articles on the docs website or its GitHub repo.


We use the rules set out in the VSCode Markdownlint extension. You can import these rules into any text editor like Vim or Sublime. All rules are listed within the Markdownlint repository.

We highly recommend installing VSCode with the Markdownlint extension to help with your writing. The extension shows warnings within your markdown whenever your copy doesn’t conform to a rule.

Screenshot of some Markdown in VSCode showing an error.

The extension summarizes all the warnings within the open file at the bottom of the editor:

Screenshot of VSCode with a summary of markdown errors.


The following rules explain how we organize and structure our writing. The rules outlined here are in addition to the rules found within the Markdownlinter extension.


The following rules apply to editing and styling text.


  1. All titles follow sentence structure. Only names and places are capitalized, along with the first letter of the title. All other letters are lower-case:

    ## This is a title
    ### Only capitalize names and places
    #### The capital city of France is Paris
  2. Every article starts with a front-matter title and description:

    title: Example article
    description: This is a brief description that shows up in link teasers in services like Twitter and Slack.
    ## This is a subtitle
    Example body text.

    In the above example title: serves as a <h1> or # tag. There is only ever one title of this level in each article.

  3. Titles do not contain punctuation. If you have a question within your title, rephrase it as a statement:

    <!-- This title is wrong. -->
    ## What is Filecoin?
    <!-- This title is better. -->
    ## Filecoin explained

Bold text

Double asterisks ** are used to define boldface text. Use bold text when the reader must interact with something displayed as text: buttons, hyperlinks, images with text in them, window names, and icons.

In the **Login** window, enter your email into the **Username** field and click **Sign in**.


Underscores _ are used to define italic text. Style the names of things in italics, except input fields or buttons:

Here are some American things:

- The _Spirit of St Louis_.
- The _White House_.
- The United States _Declaration of Independence_.

Try entering them into the **American** field and clicking **Accept**.

Quotes or sections of quoted text are styled in italics and surrounded by double quotes ":

In the wise words of Winnie the Pooh _"People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day."_

Code blocks

Tag code blocks with the syntax of the core they are presenting:

Command-line examples

This project supports a special with-output tag that can be applied to markdown code blocks to support command-line examples. When you add with-output to a code block, the code block that immediately follows it will be styled as the “output” block. This lets the reader easily distinguish between input and output, and allows them to copy just the input portion to their clipboard using the clipboard button.

Note that you must include the language tag (for example, shell, or bash) as well as the with-output tag, and the output code block must immediately follow the input block.

Here’s an example of using the with-output tag:

    ```shell with-output
    lotus-miner info
    Miner: t0103
    Sector Size: 16.0 MiB
    Power: 0 B / 16.0 MiB (0%)
    Worker use:
        Local: 0 / 2 (+1 reserved)
        **Remote: 0 / 1**
    PoSt Submissions: Not Proving
    Sectors:  map[Committing:0 Proving:0 Total:0]

Command-line examples can be truncated with three periods ... to remove extraneous information:

    lotus-miner info

    Miner: t0103
    Sector Size: 16.0 MiB
    Sectors:  map[Committing:0 Proving:0 Total:0]

Inline code tags

Surround directories, file names, and version numbers between inline code tags `.

Version `1.2.0` of the program is stored in `~/code/examples`. Open `exporter.exe` to run the program.

List items

All list items follow sentence structure. Only names and places are capitalized, along with the first letter of the list item. All other letters are lowercase:

  1. Never leave Nottingham without a sandwich.
  2. Brian May played guitar for Queen.
  3. Oranges.

List items end with a period ., or a colon : if the list item has a sub-list:

  1. Charles Dickens novels:
    1. Oliver Twist.
    2. Nicholas Nickelby.
    3. David Copperfield.
  2. J.R.R Tolkien non-fiction books:
    1. The Hobbit.
    2. Silmarillion.
    3. Letters from Father Christmas.
Unordered lists

Use the dash character - for un-numbered list items:

- An apple.
- Three oranges.
- As many lemons as you can carry.
- Half a lime.

Special characters

Whenever possible, spell out the name of the special character, followed by an example of the character itself within a code block.

Use the dollar sign `$` to enter debug-mode.

Keyboard shortcuts

When instructing the reader to use a keyboard shortcut, surround individual keys in code tags:

Press `ctrl` + `c` to copy the highlighted text.

The plus symbol + stays outside of the code tags.

Custom containers

Custom containers can be defined by their types, titles, and contents.

&#123;&#123;&#60; alert  &#62; &#125;&#125;
This is a tip
&#123;&#123;&#60; /alert &#62; &#125;&#125;

&#123;&#123;&#60; alert icon="callout" &#62; &#125;&#125;
This is a callout
&#123;&#123;&#60; /alert &#62; &#125;&#125;

&#123;&#123;&#60; alert  &#62;&#125;&#125;
This is a dangerous warning
&#123;&#123;&#60; /alert &#62; &#125;&#125;

This output is not supported by Github Flavoured Markdown (GFM). However, they render properly when viewed through VuePress at


The following rules and guidelines define how to use and store images.

Alt text

All images contain alt text so that screen-reading programs can describe the image to users with limited sight:

![Screenshot of an image being uploaded through the Filecoin command line.](filecoin-image-upload-screen.png)

Storage location

Store images in the same folder as the content that you’re referencing the image from. This will require you to create a new folder with the same name as the title of your content, and then add your .md content into that folder as The images then go into that folder.

![Proof of Spacetime diagram.](proof-of-spacetime.png)

The directory structure of this article looks like this:

├── proof-of-spacetime
│   └──
│   └── proof-of-spacetime.png

There are no images within or, so those articles do not need to be in their own folders.

File names

All file names are lower-case with dashes - between words, including image files:

├── images
│   └── proof-of-spacetime
│       └── post-diagram.png