How to Create a Simple GitHub Pull Request Template

A well-crafted pull request (PR) template can streamline the PR process, ensuring that all necessary information is included.

Here's how to create a simple, effective PR template for your GitHub repository.

In this article, we will create a checklist that a contributor can interact with on every Pull Request they open.

Understand the Purpose of a Pull Request Template

Before diving into the creation process, it's crucial to understand why a PR template is beneficial. A PR template:

  • Encourages contributors to include relevant details.
  • Standardizes the format of pull requests.
  • Saves time for both contributors and maintainers.

Get Started

Log into your GitHub account and navigate to the repository where you want to add the PR template. You can open the code locally or use the GUI on GitHub to add this file, as it's just a markdown file and shouldn't get too complicated.

Create the Template File

To get this to work, there is a special file naming convention you need to use: pull_request_template.md.

This file also needs to be in one of three specific folders. You can include the pull_request_template.md in:

  • The root directory (pull_request_template.md).
  • Inside the .github folder (.github/pull_request_template.md), which is a GitHub-specific file directory.
  • Inside the docs folder (docs/pull_request_template.md).

Write Your Template

In the pull_request_template.md file, write down the structure you want contributors to follow.

Here's a simple template to start with:

# Pull Request Template

## Description
Please include a summary of the change and which issue is fixed. Also list any relevant context or decisions.

## Type of Change
- [ ] Bug fix
- [ ] New feature
- [ ] Documentation update

## Checklist
- [ ] I have read the CONTRIBUTING document.
- [ ] My code follows the code style of this project.
- [ ] I have added tests to cover my changes.
- [ ] All new and existing tests passed.

Commit Your Template

After writing your template, commit the file to your repository:

  • Enter a commit message, like "Add pull request template".
  • Choose to commit directly to the main branch or create a new branch.
  • Click 'Commit new file'.

Test Your Template

Create a new pull request in your repository to ensure the template appears correctly.

It should automatically populate the pull request's description box.

This is a simple but effective way of giving people guidance on every PR and saves you from reaching out to developers on your team and asking them if they did do "x," "y," and "z."

Happy coding!⚡️

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Avatar for Niall Maher

Written by Niall Maher

Founder of Codú - The web developer community! I've worked in nearly every corner of technology businesses; Lead Developer, Software Architect, Product Manager, CTO and now happily a Founder.

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