Technotes for Stand-Alone Technical Documentation

Technotes are a way for Data Management team members to write standalone documents that are native to the web, can be cited in literature, and are easy to write, publish, and update. You can write with either our reStructuredText or LaTeX templates. All technotes are developed on GitHub and published with LSST the Docs. You can find a listing of available technotes at

When to write technotes

Some of the possible applications for technotes are:

  • Report the results of a project, such as a data processing or software development experiment.

  • Announce a new technology, serving as a high-level overview complementing user documentation.

  • Propose an architecture, possibly becoming the subject of a request for comment (RFC).

For further background, see SQR-000: The LSST DM Technical Note Publishing Platform.

Technotes are not always the right platform for your information. Consider these alternatives:

  • Change-controlled documentation (LDM documents, for example). See LPM-19 for guidelines on what kinds of information are change-controlled.

  • User documentation (, for example). Descriptions of how to use software, services, or data should be written as user documentation. Technotes complement user documentation by being point-in-time discussions of software, like a technical blog post.

Technote series

Operations vs Construction

The DMTN and SQR series will still exist in operations and so it may still be used. In general if a topic fits in a given series use the series without hesitation.

Create a technote

Creating a new technote is easy and takes just a moment. In Slack, open a direct message with @sqrbot-jr and type:

create project

From the drop-down, select Documents > Technote (reStructuredText) or (lsstdoc LaTeX) depending on the format you wish to work in. Once you select the template type and fill in the form on Slack, the bot will create and configure the technote on GitHub. Watch for Slack messages from the bot about the technote’s GitHub repository and publication URL.

Any time you push to GitHub, your technote will be republished at its site. Pushes to the main branch update your technote’s main page, while updates to other branches update preview editions behind the /v/ URL path. Click on the Switch editions or Change version link from your published technote to get links for other editions.

Working with LaTeX-formatted technotes

LaTeX-formatted technotes use the lsstdoc class. The lsst-texmf documentation explains how to write lsstdoc-based documents.

Working with reStructuredText-formatted technotes

See the ReStructuredText Style Guide for a primer on writing reStructuredText. The sections below deal with specific issues for technote projects.

Using bibliographies in reStructuredText technotes

The lsst-texmf project includes shared BibTeX bibliographic databases. You can also use these bibliographies from reStructuredText technotes.

First, add or uncomment the bibliography directive at the bottom of your technote’s index.rst file:

.. bibliography:: local.bib lsstbib/books.bib lsstbib/lsst.bib lsstbib/lsst-dm.bib lsstbib/refs.bib lsstbib/refs_ads.bib
   :style: lsst_aa


Only include the local.bib file if your technote’s repository has one. Use local.bib to temporarily store bib items before you permanently transfer them to the lsst-texmf project.

The bibliographies in the lsstbib directory are copies from the repository. Refresh the copies maintained in your technote’s repository by running this command:

make refresh-bib

To make citations in the technote’s text, use the cite role. For example:


In-text citations are numbered, not author-year style.

Editing metadata in reStructuredText technotes

ReStructuredText-format technotes use a metadata.yaml in their repositories to describe attributes like the document’s title, author list, and abstract. To change the technote’s title or author list, for example, commit a change to the metadata.yaml file. See the comments in metadata.yaml for a description of these fields.