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