How to contribute to Org?

Table of Contents

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Types of contributions

Every contribution to Org is very welcome. Here is a list of areas where your contribution will be useful:

  • you can submit bug reports – Before sending a bug report, make sure you have read this section of Org's manual: Feedback You can also read this great text: "How to Send Bug Reports Effectively"
  • you can submit feature requests – Org is already mature, but new ideas keep popping up. If you want to request a feature, it might be a good idea to have a look at the current Issue tracking file which captures both bug reports and feature requests. Or dig into the mailing list for possible previous discussions about your idea. If you cannot find back your idea, formulate it as detailed as possible, if possible with examples, and send it to the mailing list.
  • you can submit patches – You can submit patches to the mailing list. See the Preferred way of submitting patches section for details. You can run make test to check that your patch does not introduce new bugs.

    If your patch is against a file that is part of Emacs, then your total contribution (all patches you submit) should change less than 15 lines (See the etc/CONTRIBUTE file in GNU Emacs.) If you contribute more, you have to assign the copyright of your contribution to the Free Software Foundation (see below).

  • you can submit Org add-ons – there are many Org add-ons.
    • The best way is to submit your code to the mailing list to discuss it with people.
    • If it is useful, you might consider contributing it to the lisp/contrib/ directory in the git repository. It will be reviewed, and if it passes, it will be included. Ask help from Eric Schulte for this step. The lisp/contrib/ directory is somehow relaxed: it is not distributed with Emacs, and does not require a formal copyright assignment.
    • If you decide to sign the assignment contract with the FSF, we might include your contribution in the distribution, and then in GNU Emacs.
  • you can submit material to the Worg website – This website is made of Org files that you can contribute to. Learn what Worg is about and how to contribute to it through git.

Copyright issues when contributing to Emacs org-mode

Org is made of many files. Most of them are also distributed as part of GNU Emacs. These files are called the Org core, and they are all copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation, Inc. If you consider contributing to these files, your first need to grant the right to include your works in GNU Emacs to the FSF. For this you need to complete this form, and send it to The FSF will send you the assignment contract that both you and the FSF will sign. Please let the Org-mode maintainer know when this process is complete. Some people consider this assignment process a hassle. I don't want to discuss this in detail here - there are some good reasons for getting the copyright registered, an example is discussed in this FLOSS weekly podcast. Furthermore, by playing according to the Emacs rules, we gain the fantastic advantage that every version of Emacs ships with Org-mode already fully built in. So please consider doing this - it makes our work as maintainers so much easier, because we can then take your patches without any additional work.

If you want to learn more about why copyright assignments are collected, read this: Why the FSF gets copyright assignments from contributors?

By submitting patches to, or by pushing changes to the Org-mode repository, you are placing these changes under the same licensing terms as those under which GNU Emacs is published.

;; GNU Emacs is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
;; it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
;; the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
;; (at your option) any later version.

If at the time you submit or push these changes you do have active copyright assignment papers with the FSF, for future changes to either Org-mode or to Emacs, this means that copyright to these changes is automatically transferred to the FSF. The Org-mode repository is seen as upstream repository for Emacs, anything contained in it can potentially end up in Emacs. If you do not have signed papers with the FSF, only changes to files in the contrib/ part of the repository will be accepted, as well as very minor changes (so-called tiny changes) to core files. We will ask you to sign FSF papers at the moment we attempt to move a contrib/ file into the Org core, or into Emacs.

For Org developers

  1. Send your public key to Jason Dunsmore or Org's maintainer.
  2. Wait for confirmation that your public key has been added to the server.
  3. Clone org-mode.git repository like this:

    ~$ git clone
  4. Commit your changes.
  5. Run make test
  6. If the tests pass, push your changes.

If you are undertaking big changes, please create a dedicated branch for them.

For Org contributors: preferred way of submitting patches

Coding conventions

Org is part of Emacs, so any contribution should follow the GNU Emacs Lisp coding conventions described in Emacs manual.

Sending patch with git

Org-mode is developed using git as the version control system. Git provides an amazing framework to collaborate on a project. Git can be used to make patches and send them via email – this is perfectly fine for major and minor changes.

When sending a patch (either using git diff or git format-patch) please always add a properly formatted Emacs ChangeLog entry. See this section for details on how to create such a ChangeLog.

Sending commits

For every patch you send, we suggest to use git format-patch.

This is easy for small patches and more consequent ones. Sometimes, you might even want to work in several steps and send each commit separately. Here is the suggested workflow:

~$ git pull                 # make sure your repo is up to date
~$ git branch my-changes    # create a new branch from master
~$ git checkout my-changes  # switch to this new branch

… make some changes (1) …

~$ git commit -a -m "This is change (1)"  # Commit your change

… make another change (2) …

~$ git commit -a -m "This is change (2)"  # Commit your change
~$ git format-patch master                # Creates two patches

… Then two patches for your two commits are ready to be sent to the list.

Write useful commit messages: please provide 1) a reason for it in your email and 2) a ChangeLog entry in the commit message (see this section on how to format a ChangeLog entry.)

Sending quick fixes for testing purpose

If you want to send a quick fix that needs to be further tested by other people (before you submit a real patch), here is how you can do:

This command will make a patch between the staging area (in your computer), and the file you modified:

git diff -p org-whatever.el > org-whatever.el.diff

If you already committed your changes to your index (staging area), then you should compare against a particular branch (in this example, origin/master):

git diff -p origin/master org-whatever.el > org-whatever.el.diff

You email the output to the mailing list, adding [PATCH] to the subject, and description of what you fixed or changed.

Note that small patches sent like this still need to have a ChangeLog entry to be applied. If your patch looks good to you, it's always better to send a patch through git format-patch.

Sharing changes from a public branch

For more significant contributions, the best way to submit patches is through public branches of your repository clone.

  1. Clone our git repository at You can clone using any of the commands below.

    git clone git://
    git clone

    The url using the git protocol is preferred. If you are behind a firewall that blocks git://, you can use the http url.

  2. Create a repository that can be publicly accessed, for example on GitHub,, or on your own server.
  3. Push your topic branches (and optionally the master branch) to your public repository.

    Define a remote for your public repository you push topics to.

    git remote add REMOTE URL-GOES-HERE

    Push branches to the remote

    git push REMOTE BRANCH1 [BRANCH2 BRANCH3 ...]


    git remote add github ssh://.../     # Done once to define the remote 'github'
    git push github my-topic
  4. Do your work on topic-specific branches, using a branch name that relates to what you are working on.
  5. Often do

    git remote update

    to pull commits from all defined remote repositories, in particular the org-mode master at

  6. When you have something workable, publish the git path and branch name on the mailing list, so that people can test it and review your work.
  7. After your topic has been merged to the project master branch you can delete the topic on your local and remote repositories.

    git branch -d NEWTOPIC
    git push REMOTE :NEWTOPIC

The instructions above are generally useful to let people test new features before sending the patch series to the mailing list, but the patches remain the preferred way of receiving contributions.

Commit messages and ChangeLog entries

We have decided to no longer keep a ChangeLog file to record changes to individual functions.

A commit message should be constructed in the following way:

  • Line 1 of the commit message should always be a short description of the overall change. Line 1 does not get a dot at the end and does not start with a star. Generally, it starts with the filename that has been changed, followed by a colon.
  • Line 2 is an empty line.
  • In line 3, the ChangeLog entry should start. A ChangeLog entry looks like this:

    * org-timer.el (org-timer-cancel-timer, org-timer-stop): Enhance
    (org-timer-set-timer): Use the number of minutes in the Effort
    property as the default timer value. Three prefix arguments will
    ignore the Effort value property.
  • After the changelog, another empty line should come before any additional information that the committer wishes to provide in order to explain the patch.
  • If the change is a minor change made by a committer without copyright assignment to the FSF, the commit message should also contain the cookie TINYCHANGE (anywhere in the message). When we later produce the ChangeLog file for Emacs, the change will be marked appropriately.
  • Variables and functions names are quoted like `this' (backquote and single quote).
  • Sentences should be separated by two spaces.
  • Sentences should start with an uppercase letter.
  • Avoid the passive form: i.e., use "change" instead of "changed".

Here is an example for such a message:

org-capture.el: Fix the case of using a template file

* lisp/org-capture.el (org-capture-set-plist): Make sure txt is a
string before calling `string-match'.
(org-capture-templates): Fix customization type.

* doc/org.texi (Capture): Document using a file for a template.

The problem here was that a wrong keyword was given in the
customization type.  This let to a string-match against a list value.

Modified from a patch proposal by Johan Friis.


If you are using magit.el in Emacs, the ChangeLog for such entries are easily produced by pressing C in the diff listing.

Another option to produce the entries is to use `C-x 4 a' in the changed function or in the diff listing. This will create entries in the ChangeLog file, and you can then cut and paste these to the commit message and remove the indentation.

Copyrighted contributors to Org-mode

Here is the list of people who have contributed actual code to the Org-mode core. Note that the manual contains a more extensive list with acknowledgments, including contributed ideas! The lists below are mostly for house keeping, to help the maintainers keep track of copyright issues.

Current contributors

Here is the list of people who signed the papers with the Free Software Foundation and can now freely submit code to Org files that are included within GNU Emacs:

  1. Aaron Ecay
  2. Abdó Roig-Maranges
  3. Achim Gratz
  4. Adam Elliott
  5. Adam Spiers
  6. Alan Schmitt
  7. Andreas Burtzlaff
  8. Andreas Leha
  9. Andrew Hyatt
  10. Andrzej Lichnerowicz
  11. Andy Steward
  12. Anthony John Day
  13. Anthony Lander
  14. Baoqiu Cui
  15. Barry Leonard Gidden
  16. Bastien Guerry
  17. Benjamin Andresen
  18. Bernd Grobauer
  19. Bernt Hansen
  20. Brian James Gough
  21. Carsten Dominik
  22. Charles Sebold
  23. Christian Egli
  24. Christian Moe
  25. Christopher League
  26. Christopher Miles Gray
  27. Christopher Schmidt
  28. Christopher Suckling
  29. Dan Davison
  30. Daniel M German
  31. Daniel M. Hackney
  32. David Arroyo Menéndez
  33. David Maus
  34. David O'Toole
  35. Dieter Schoen
  36. Dima Kogan
  37. Dmitry Antipov
  38. Eric Abrahamsen
  39. Eric S. Fraga
  40. Eric Schulte
  41. Erik Iverson
  42. Ethan Ligon
  43. Feng Shu
  44. Francesco Pizzolante
  45. Gary Oberbrunner
  46. Georg Lehner
  47. George Kettleborough
  48. Giovanni Ridolfi
  49. Grégoire Jadi (aka Daimrod)
  50. Henning Dietmar Weiss
  51. Ian Barton
  52. Ian Kelling
  53. Ilya Shlyakhter
  54. Ippei Furuhashi
  55. James TD Smith
  56. Jan Böcker
  57. Jarmo Hurri
  58. Jason Riedy
  59. Jay Kerns
  60. Jeffrey Ryan Horn
  61. Joe Corneli
  62. Joel Boehland
  63. John Kitchin
  64. John Wiegley
  65. Jonas Bernoulli
  66. Jonathan Leech-Pepin
  67. Juan Pechiar
  68. Julian Gehring
  69. Julien Barnier
  70. Julien Danjou
  71. Justin Gordon
  72. Justus Piater
  73. Karl Fogel
  74. Kodi Arfer
  75. Konstantin Antipin
  76. Lawrence Mitchell
  77. Le Wang
  78. Lennart Borgman
  79. Leonard Avery Randall
  80. Luis Anaya
  81. Lukasz Stelmach
  82. Madan Ramakrishnan
  83. Magnus Henoch
  84. Manuel Giraud
  85. Marco Wahl
  86. Martin Pohlack
  87. Martyn Jago
  88. Matt Lundin
  89. Max Mikhanosha
  90. Michael Albinus
  91. Michael Brand
  92. Michael Gauland
  93. Michael Sperber
  94. Miguel A. Figueroa-Villanueva
  95. Mikael Fornius
  96. Moritz Ulrich
  97. Nathan Neff
  98. Nicholas Dokos
  99. Nicolas Berthier
  100. Nicolas Goaziou
  101. Nicolas Richard
  102. Niels Giessen
  103. Noorul Islam K M
  104. Oleh Krehel
  105. Paul Sexton
  106. Pedro Alexandre Marcelino Costa da Silva
  107. Peter Jones
  108. Phil Jackson
  109. Philip Rooke
  110. Pieter Praet
  111. Piotr Zielinski
  112. Puneeth Chaganti
  113. Rainer M Krug
  114. Rasmus Pank Roulund
  115. Richard Klinda
  116. Richard Riley
  117. Rick Frankel
  118. Russel Adams
  119. Ryo Takaishi
  120. Rüdiger Sonderfeld
  121. Sacha Chua
  122. Samuel Loury
  123. Sebastian Rose
  124. Sebastien Vauban
  125. Sergey Litvinov
  126. Seweryn Kokot
  127. Stephen Eglen
  128. Steven Rémot
  129. Suvayu Ali
  130. T.F. Torrey
  131. Tassilo Horn
  132. Thierry Banel
  133. Thomas Baumann
  134. Thomas Holst
  135. Thomas S. Dye
  136. Thorsten Jolitz
  137. Tim Burt
  138. Toby Cubitt
  139. Tokuya Kameshima
  140. Tom Breton
  141. Tomas Hlavaty
  142. Tony Day
  143. Trevor Murphy
  144. Ulf Stegemann
  145. Vitalie Spinu
  146. Yann Hodique
  147. Yasushi Shoji
  148. Yoshinari Nomura
  149. Zhang Weize
  150. Zhuo Qingliang (Killy Draw)


These people have been asked to sign the papers, and they are currently considering it or a request is being processed by the FSF.

  • Bill Wishon
  • Mats Kindahl (as of 2013-04-06) for this patch
  • Georg Lehner (as of 2013-06-27)
  • Kodi Arfer (as of 2013-06-29)

Tiny Changes

These people have submitted tiny change patches that made it into Org without FSF papers. When they submit more, we need to get papers eventually. The limit is a cumulative change of 20 non-repetitive change lines. Details are given in this document.

  1. Andrew Burgess
  2. Andy Lutomirski
  3. Aurélien Aptel
  4. Brice Waegenire
  5. Craig Tanis
  6. Frederico Beffa
  7. Greg Tucker-Kellogg
  8. Gustav Wikström
  9. Ivan Vilata i Balaguer
  10. Joe Hirn
  11. John Foerch
  12. Jon Miller
  13. Jonas Hörsch
  14. Joost Diepenmaat
  15. Kodi Arfer
  16. Kyle Meyer
  17. Leslie Harlley Watter
  18. Mario Frasca
  19. Michael Weylandt
  20. Mike McLean
  21. Miro Bezjak
  22. Moritz Kiefer
  23. Muchenxuan Tong
  24. Myles English
  25. Nathaniel Flath
  26. Peter Moresi
  27. Rafael Laboissiere
  28. Richard Lawrence
  29. Richard Y. Kim (Kim)
  30. Robert P. Goldman
  31. Roberto Huelga
  32. Sylvain Chouleur
  33. Teika Kazura
  34. Viktor Rosenfeld
  35. Vladimir Lomov
  36. York Zhao

(This list may be incomplete - please help completing it.)

No FSF assignment

These people cannot or prefer to not sign the FSF copyright papers, and we can only accept patches that do not change the core files (the ones that are also in Emacs).

Luckily, this list is still empty.

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