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 Bastien
  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. Alexey Lebedeff
  8. Andreas Burtzlaff
  9. Andreas Leha
  10. Andrew Hyatt
  11. Andrzej Lichnerowicz
  12. Andy Steward
  13. Anthony John Day
  14. Anthony Lander
  15. Arni Magnusson
  16. Baoqiu Cui
  17. Barry Leonard Gidden
  18. Bastien Guerry
  19. Benjamin Andresen
  20. Bernd Grobauer
  21. Bernt Hansen
  22. Brian James Gough
  23. Brice Waegenire
  24. Carsten Dominik
  25. Charles Berry
  26. Charles Sebold
  27. Christian Egli
  28. Christian Moe
  29. Christopher League
  30. Christopher Miles Gray
  31. Christopher Schmidt
  32. Christopher Suckling
  33. Dan Davison
  34. Daniel M German
  35. Daniel M. Hackney
  36. David Arroyo Menéndez
  37. David Maus
  38. David O'Toole
  39. Dieter Schoen
  40. Dima Kogan
  41. Dmitry Antipov
  42. Eric Abrahamsen
  43. Eric S. Fraga
  44. Eric Schulte
  45. Erik Hetzner
  46. Erik Iverson
  47. Ethan Ligon
  48. Feng Shu
  49. Francesco Pizzolante
  50. Gary Oberbrunner
  51. Georg Lehner
  52. George Kettleborough
  53. Giovanni Ridolfi
  54. Grégoire Jadi (aka Daimrod)
  55. Gustav Wikström
  56. Henning Dietmar Weiss
  57. Ian Barton
  58. Ian Kelling
  59. Ilya Shlyakhter
  60. Ippei Furuhashi
  61. James TD Smith
  62. Jan Böcker
  63. Jan Malakhovski
  64. Jarmo Hurri
  65. Jason Riedy
  66. Jay Kerns
  67. Jeffrey Ryan Horn
  68. Joe Corneli
  69. Joel Boehland
  70. John Kitchin
  71. John Wiegley
  72. Jon Snader
  73. Jonas Bernoulli
  74. Jonathan Leech-Pepin
  75. Juan Pechiar
  76. Julian Gehring
  77. Julien Barnier
  78. Julien Danjou
  79. Justin Gordon
  80. Justus Piater
  81. Karl Fogel
  82. Kodi Arfer
  83. Konstantin Antipin
  84. Kyle Meyer
  85. Lawrence Mitchell
  86. Le Wang
  87. Lennart Borgman
  88. Leonard Avery Randall
  89. Luis Anaya
  90. Lukasz Stelmach
  91. Madan Ramakrishnan
  92. Magnus Henoch
  93. Manuel Giraud
  94. Marco Wahl
  95. Martin Pohlack
  96. Martyn Jago
  97. Matt Lundin
  98. Max Mikhanosha
  99. Michael Albinus
  100. Michael Brand
  101. Michael Gauland
  102. Michael Sperber
  103. Miguel A. Figueroa-Villanueva
  104. Mikael Fornius
  105. Moritz Ulrich
  106. Nathan Neff
  107. Nicholas Dokos
  108. Nicolas Berthier
  109. Nicolas Goaziou
  110. Nicolas Richard
  111. Niels Giessen
  112. Nikolai Weibull
  113. Noorul Islam K M
  114. Oleh Krehel
  115. Paul Sexton
  116. Pedro Alexandre Marcelino Costa da Silva
  117. Peter Jones
  118. Phil Jackson
  119. Philip Rooke
  120. Pieter Praet
  121. Piotr Zielinski
  122. Puneeth Chaganti
  123. Rainer M Krug
  124. Rasmus Pank Roulund
  125. Richard Klinda
  126. Richard Riley
  127. Rick Frankel
  128. Russel Adams
  129. Ryo Takaishi
  130. Rüdiger Sonderfeld
  131. Sacha Chua
  132. Samuel Loury
  133. Sebastian Rose
  134. Sebastien Vauban
  135. Sergey Litvinov
  136. Seweryn Kokot
  137. Stephen Eglen
  138. Steven Rémot
  139. Suvayu Ali
  140. T.F. Torrey
  141. Tassilo Horn
  142. Thierry Banel
  143. Thomas Baumann
  144. Thomas Holst
  145. Thomas S. Dye
  146. Thorsten Jolitz
  147. Tim Burt
  148. Titus von der Malsburg
  149. Toby Cubitt
  150. Tokuya Kameshima
  151. Tom Breton
  152. Tomas Hlavaty
  153. Tony Day
  154. Trevor Murphy
  155. Ulf Stegemann
  156. Vitalie Spinu
  157. Yann Hodique
  158. Yasushi Shoji
  159. Yoshinari Nomura
  160. Yuri D. Lensky
  161. Zhang Weize
  162. 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. Aman Yang
  2. Andrew Burgess
  3. Andy Lutomirski
  4. Arun Persaud
  5. Aurélien Aptel
  6. Craig Tanis
  7. Derek Feichtinger
  8. Feng Zhou
  9. Fernando Varesi
  10. Florian Beck
  11. Federico Beffa
  12. Greg Tucker-Kellogg
  13. Gregor Zattler
  14. Hiroshi Saito
  15. Ivan Vilata i Balaguer
  16. Jacob Gerlach
  17. Jacob Matthews
  18. Jan Seeger
  19. Joe Hirn
  20. John Foerch
  21. Jon Miller
  22. Jonas Hörsch
  23. Joost Diepenmaat
  24. Kodi Arfer
  25. Leslie Harlley Watter
  26. Luke Amdor
  27. Mario Frasca
  28. Matthew Gidden
  29. Matthew MacLean
  30. Michael O'Connor
  31. Michael Weylandt
  32. Mike McLean
  33. Miro Bezjak
  34. Moritz Kiefer
  35. Muchenxuan Tong
  36. Myles English
  37. Myq Larson
  38. Nathaniel Flath
  39. Nick Gunn
  40. Peter Feigl
  41. Peter Moresi
  42. Philip (Pip Cet)
  43. Rafael Laboissiere
  44. Richard Hansen
  45. Richard Lawrence
  46. Richard Y. Kim (Kim)
  47. Robert P. Goldman
  48. Roberto Huelga
  49. Ruben Maher
  50. Sami Airaksinen
  51. Saulius Menkevičius
  52. Sergey Gordienko
  53. Stefan-W. Hahn
  54. Sylvain Chouleur
  55. Teika Kazura
  56. Thierry Pellé
  57. Thomas Alexander Gerds
  58. Tom Hinton
  59. Vicente Vera Parra
  60. Viktor Rosenfeld
  61. Vladimir Lomov
  62. York Zhao
  63. Zane D. Purvis

(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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