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NAME

       perlpodstyle - Perl POD style guide

DESCRIPTION

       These are general guidelines for how to write POD documentation for Perl scripts and
       modules, based on general guidelines for writing good UNIX man pages.  All of these
       guidelines are, of course, optional, but following them will make your documentation more
       consistent with other documentation on the system.

       The name of the program being documented is conventionally written in bold (using B<>)
       wherever it occurs, as are all program options.  Arguments should be written in italics
       (I<>).  Function names are traditionally written in italics; if you write a function as
       function(), Pod::Man will take care of this for you.  Literal code or commands should be
       in C<>.  References to other man pages should be in the form "manpage(section)" or
       "L<manpage(section)>", and Pod::Man will automatically format those appropriately.  The
       second form, with L<>, is used to request that a POD formatter make a link to the man page
       if possible.  As an exception, one normally omits the section when referring to module
       documentation since it's not clear what section module documentation will be in; use
       "L<Module::Name>" for module references instead.

       References to other programs or functions are normally in the form of man page references
       so that cross-referencing tools can provide the user with links and the like.  It's
       possible to overdo this, though, so be careful not to clutter your documentation with too
       much markup.  References to other programs that are not given as man page references
       should be enclosed in B<>.

       The major headers should be set out using a "=head1" directive, and are historically
       written in the rather startling ALL UPPER CASE format; this is not mandatory, but it's
       strongly recommended so that sections have consistent naming across different software
       packages.  Minor headers may be included using "=head2", and are typically in mixed case.

       The standard sections of a manual page are:

       NAME
           Mandatory section; should be a comma-separated list of programs or functions
           documented by this POD page, such as:

               foo, bar - programs to do something

           Manual page indexers are often extremely picky about the format of this section, so
           don't put anything in it except this line.  Every program or function documented by
           this POD page should be listed, separated by a comma and a space.  For a Perl module,
           just give the module name.  A single dash, and only a single dash, should separate the
           list of programs or functions from the description.  Do not use any markup such as C<>
           or B<> anywhere in this line.  Functions should not be qualified with "()" or the
           like.  The description should ideally fit on a single line, even if a man program
           replaces the dash with a few tabs.

       SYNOPSIS
           A short usage summary for programs and functions.  This section is mandatory for
           section 3 pages.  For Perl module documentation, it's usually convenient to have the
           contents of this section be a verbatim block showing some (brief) examples of typical
           ways the module is used.

       DESCRIPTION
           Extended description and discussion of the program or functions, or the body of the
           documentation for man pages that document something else.  If particularly long, it's
           a good idea to break this up into subsections "=head2" directives like:

               =head2 Normal Usage

               =head2 Advanced Features

               =head2 Writing Configuration Files

           or whatever is appropriate for your documentation.

           For a module, this is generally where the documentation of the interfaces provided by
           the module goes, usually in the form of a list with an "=item" for each interface.
           Depending on how many interfaces there are, you may want to put that documentation in
           separate METHODS, FUNCTIONS, CLASS METHODS, or INSTANCE METHODS sections instead and
           save the DESCRIPTION section for an overview.

       OPTIONS
           Detailed description of each of the command-line options taken by the program.  This
           should be separate from the description for the use of parsers like Pod::Usage.  This
           is normally presented as a list, with each option as a separate "=item".  The specific
           option string should be enclosed in B<>.  Any values that the option takes should be
           enclosed in I<>.  For example, the section for the option --section=manext would be
           introduced with:

               =item B<--section>=I<manext>

           Synonymous options (like both the short and long forms) are separated by a comma and a
           space on the same "=item" line, or optionally listed as their own item with a
           reference to the canonical name.  For example, since --section can also be written as
           -s, the above would be:

               =item B<-s> I<manext>, B<--section>=I<manext>

           Writing the short option first is recommended because it's easier to read.  The long
           option is long enough to draw the eye to it anyway and the short option can otherwise
           get lost in visual noise.

       RETURN VALUE
           What the program or function returns, if successful.  This section can be omitted for
           programs whose precise exit codes aren't important, provided they return 0 on success
           and non-zero on failure as is standard.  It should always be present for functions.
           For modules, it may be useful to summarize return values from the module interface
           here, or it may be more useful to discuss return values separately in the
           documentation of each function or method the module provides.

       ERRORS
           Exceptions, error return codes, exit statuses, and errno settings.  Typically used for
           function or module documentation; program documentation uses DIAGNOSTICS instead.  The
           general rule of thumb is that errors printed to "STDOUT" or "STDERR" and intended for
           the end user are documented in DIAGNOSTICS while errors passed internal to the calling
           program and intended for other programmers are documented in ERRORS.  When documenting
           a function that sets errno, a full list of the possible errno values should be given
           here.

       DIAGNOSTICS
           All possible messages the program can print out and what they mean.  You may wish to
           follow the same documentation style as the Perl documentation; see perldiag(1) for
           more details (and look at the POD source as well).

           If applicable, please include details on what the user should do to correct the error;
           documenting an error as indicating "the input buffer is too small" without telling the
           user how to increase the size of the input buffer (or at least telling them that it
           isn't possible) aren't very useful.

       EXAMPLES
           Give some example uses of the program or function.  Don't skimp; users often find this
           the most useful part of the documentation.  The examples are generally given as
           verbatim paragraphs.

           Don't just present an example without explaining what it does.  Adding a short
           paragraph saying what the example will do can increase the value of the example
           immensely.

       ENVIRONMENT
           Environment variables that the program cares about, normally presented as a list using
           "=over", "=item", and "=back".  For example:

               =over 6

               =item HOME

               Used to determine the user's home directory.  F<.foorc> in this
               directory is read for configuration details, if it exists.

               =back

           Since environment variables are normally in all uppercase, no additional special
           formatting is generally needed; they're glaring enough as it is.

       FILES
           All files used by the program or function, normally presented as a list, and what it
           uses them for.  File names should be enclosed in F<>.  It's particularly important to
           document files that will be potentially modified.

       CAVEATS
           Things to take special care with, sometimes called WARNINGS.

       BUGS
           Things that are broken or just don't work quite right.

       RESTRICTIONS
           Bugs you don't plan to fix.  :-)

       NOTES
           Miscellaneous commentary.

       AUTHOR
           Who wrote it (use AUTHORS for multiple people).  It's a good idea to include your
           current e-mail address (or some e-mail address to which bug reports should be sent) or
           some other contact information so that users have a way of contacting you.  Remember
           that program documentation tends to roam the wild for far longer than you expect and
           pick a contact method that's likely to last.

       HISTORY
           Programs derived from other sources sometimes have this.  Some people keep a
           modification log here, but that usually gets long and is normally better maintained in
           a separate file.

       COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE
           For copyright

               Copyright YEAR(s) YOUR NAME(s)

           (No, (C) is not needed.  No, "all rights reserved" is not needed.)

           For licensing the easiest way is to use the same licensing as Perl itself:

               This library is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify
               it under the same terms as Perl itself.

           This makes it easy for people to use your module with Perl.  Note that this licensing
           example is neither an endorsement or a requirement, you are of course free to choose
           any licensing.

       SEE ALSO
           Other man pages to check out, like man(1), man(7), makewhatis(8), or catman(8).
           Normally a simple list of man pages separated by commas, or a paragraph giving the
           name of a reference work.  Man page references, if they use the standard
           "name(section)" form, don't have to be enclosed in L<> (although it's recommended),
           but other things in this section probably should be when appropriate.

           If the package has a mailing list, include a URL or subscription instructions here.

           If the package has a web site, include a URL here.

       Documentation of object-oriented libraries or modules may want to use CONSTRUCTORS and
       METHODS sections, or CLASS METHODS and INSTANCE METHODS sections, for detailed
       documentation of the parts of the library and save the DESCRIPTION section for an
       overview.  Large modules with a function interface may want to use FUNCTIONS for similar
       reasons.  Some people use OVERVIEW to summarize the description if it's quite long.

       Section ordering varies, although NAME must always be the first section (you'll break some
       man page systems otherwise), and NAME, SYNOPSIS, DESCRIPTION, and OPTIONS generally always
       occur first and in that order if present.  In general, SEE ALSO, AUTHOR, and similar
       material should be left for last.  Some systems also move WARNINGS and NOTES to last.  The
       order given above should be reasonable for most purposes.

       Some systems use CONFORMING TO to note conformance to relevant standards and MT-LEVEL to
       note safeness for use in threaded programs or signal handlers.  These headings are
       primarily useful when documenting parts of a C library.

       Finally, as a general note, try not to use an excessive amount of markup.  As documented
       here and in Pod::Man, you can safely leave Perl variables, function names, man page
       references, and the like unadorned by markup and the POD translators will figure it out
       for you.  This makes it much easier to later edit the documentation.  Note that many
       existing translators will do the wrong thing with e-mail addresses when wrapped in L<>, so
       don't do that.

SEE ALSO

       For additional information that may be more accurate for your specific system, see either
       man(5) or man(7) depending on your system manual section numbering conventions.

       This documentation is maintained as part of the podlators distribution.  The current
       version is always available from its web site at
       <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/software/podlators/>.

AUTHOR

       Russ Allbery <rra@stanford.edu>, with large portions of this documentation taken from the
       documentation of the original pod2man implementation by Larry Wall and Tom Christiansen.

COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE

       Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 Russ Allbery <rra@stanford.edu>.

       This documentation is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify it under the
       same terms as Perl itself.