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Pandoc   a universal document converter

Contributing to pandoc

Welcome to pandoc! Very soon after its beginnings in 2006, pandoc has been influenced, improved, and modified, by users, devs, and newcomers alike. The project thrives on its active community. It is great to have you here.

How can I help?

There are many ways in which you can support pandoc. Here are a few ideas:

  • Participate in online discussions. The discussion forum is a good place for this.

  • Help with questions. Every request that is answered by the wider community frees time for programming contributors. This will speed up development of new features and issue fixes. Don’t underestimate your knowledge, please share it!

    Good places to help are the discussion forum, Q/A sites like StackOverflow, community forums (e.g. RStudio, Zettlr), and, for technical questions, the GitHub issue tracker.

  • Write or improve documentation. If you ran into a problem which took more time to figure out than expected, please consider to save other users from the same experience. People writing the documentation tend to lack an outside view, so please help provide one. Good documentation is both difficult and extremely important.

    The official docs are not the only place for documentation. Pandoc also has a Wiki. Private blogs can serve as documentation just as the official manual can.

  • Contribute code. No matter whether it’s a small fix in a format template or a huge lump of Haskell code: help is welcome. It’s usually a good idea to talk about the plans early, as this can prevent unnecessary work. See below for more information.

  • Last but not least: consider funding the development and maintenance of pandoc financially. You can find sponsor buttons on the pandoc website and the GitHub repository.

A rich ecosystem of libraries, editors, filters, and templates has developed around pandoc; conversely, pandoc builds and depends on a large number of libraries. Contributing to any of these projects is another way that can help to ensure stability, and to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with pandoc.

Have a question?

Ask on the discussion forum.

Found a bug?

Bug reports are welcome! Please report all bugs on pandoc’s GitHub issue tracker.

Before you submit a bug report, search the open issues and closed issues to make sure the issue hasn’t come up before. Also, check the User’s Guide and FAQs for anything relevant.

Make sure you can reproduce the bug with the latest released version of pandoc—or, even better, the development version, since the bug may have been fixed since the last release. Nightly builds are available, so you don’t need to compile from source to test against the development version. (To fetch a nightly, visit the link, click the topmost “Nightly” in the table, then choose your platform under “Artifacts.” Note that you must be logged in with a GitHub account.)

Your report should give detailed, reproducible instructions, including

  • the pandoc version (check using pandoc -v)
  • the exact command line used
  • the exact input used
  • the output received
  • the output you expected instead

A small test case (just a few lines) is ideal. If your input is large, try to whittle it down to a minimum working example.

Out of scope?

A less than perfect conversion does not necessarily mean there’s a bug in pandoc. Quoting from the MANUAL:

Because pandoc’s intermediate representation of a document is less expressive than many of the formats it converts between, one should not expect perfect conversions between every format and every other. Pandoc attempts to preserve the structural elements of a document, but not formatting details such as margin size. And some document elements, such as complex tables, may not fit into pandoc’s simple document model. While conversions from pandoc’s Markdown to all formats aspire to be perfect, conversions from formats more expressive than pandoc’s Markdown can be expected to be lossy.

For example, both docx and odt formats can represent margin size, but because pandoc’s internal document model does not contain a representation of margin size, this information will be lost on converting from docx to odt. (You can, however, customize margin size using --reference-doc.)

So before submitting a bug report, consider whether it might be “out of scope.” If it concerns a feature of documents that isn’t representable in pandoc’s Markdown, then it very likely is. (If in doubt, you can always ask on the [discussion-forum].)

Fixing bugs from the issue tracker

Almost all the bugs on the issue tracker have one or more associated tags. These are used to indicate the complexity and nature of a bug. There is not yet a way to indicate priority. An up to date summary of issues can be found on GitHub labels.

  • good first issue — The perfect starting point for new contributors. The issue is generic and can be resolved without deep knowledge of the code base.
  • enhancement — A feature which would be desirable. We recommend you discuss any proposed enhancement on the discussion forum before writing code.
  • bug — A problem which needs to be fixed.
  • complexity:low — The fix should only be a couple of lines.
  • complexity:high — The fix might require structural changes or in depth knowledge of the code base.
  • new:reader — A request to add a new input format.
  • new:writer — A request to add a new output format.
  • docs — A discrepancy, or ambiguity in the documentation.
  • status:in-progress — Someone is actively working on or planning to work on the ticket.
  • status:more-discussion-needed — It is unclear what the correct approach to solving the ticket is. Before starting on tickets such as this it would be advisable to post on the ticket.
  • status:more-info-needed — We require more information from a user before we can classify a report properly.

Issues related to a specific format are tagged accordingly, e.g. feature request or bug reports related to Markdown are labelled with format:markdown.

Have an idea for a new feature?

First, search the discussion forum and the issue tracker (both open issues and closed issues) to make sure that the idea has not been discussed before.

Explain the rationale for the feature you’re requesting. Why would this feature be useful? Consider also any possible drawbacks, including backwards compatibility, new library dependencies, and performance issues.

Features are very rarely “implement and forget”, as all code must be maintained. This is especially relevant for large or complex contributions. It is helpful to be sympathetic to that fact, and to communicate future plans and availability clearly.

Any potential new feature is best discussed on the discussion forum before opening an issue.

Patches and pull requests

Patches and pull requests are welcome. Before you put time into a nontrivial patch, it is a good idea to discuss it on the discussion forum, especially if it is for a new feature (rather than fixing a bug).

Please follow these guidelines:

  1. Each patch (commit) should make a single logical change (fix a bug, add a feature, clean up some code, add documentation). Everything related to that change should be included (including tests and documentation), and nothing unrelated should be included.

  2. The first line of the commit message should be a short description of the whole commit (ideally <= 50 characters). Then there should be a blank line, followed by a more detailed description of the change.

  3. Follow the stylistic conventions you find in the existing pandoc code. Use spaces, not tabs, and wrap code to 80 columns. Always include type signatures for top-level functions. Consider installing EditorConfig, this will help you to follow the coding style prevalent in pandoc.

  4. Your code should compile without warnings (-Wall clean).

  5. Run the tests to make sure your code does not introduce new bugs. (See below under Tests.) All tests should pass.

  6. It is a good idea to add test cases for the bug you are fixing. (See below under Tests.) If you are adding a new writer or reader, you must include tests.

  7. If you are adding a new feature, include updates to MANUAL.txt.

  8. All code must be released under the general license governing pandoc (GPL v2).

  9. It is better not to introduce new dependencies. Dependencies on external C libraries should especially be avoided.

  10. We aim for compatibility with at least the last three released ghc versions, and sometimes more. Currently pandoc can be compiled on ghc 8.6 an higher. All pull requests and commits are tested automatically on GitHub Actions.


Tests can be run as follows:

cabal install --only-dependencies --enable-tests
cabal configure --enable-tests
cabal build
cabal test

or, if you’re using stack,

stack setup
stack test

The test program is test/test-pandoc.hs.

To run particular tests (pattern-matching on their names), use the -p option:

cabal install pandoc --enable-tests
cabal test --test-options='-p markdown'

Or with stack:

stack test --test-arguments='-p markdown'

It is often helpful to add -j4 (run tests in parallel) and --hide-successes (don’t clutter output with successes) to the test arguments as well. Collecting all options in a cabal.project.local file in the project’s root directory can help to keep cabal commands short. E.g.:

flags: +embed_data_files
tests: True
test-show-details: direct
test-options: -j4 --hide-successes

If you add a new feature to pandoc, please add tests as well, following the pattern of the existing tests. The test suite code is in test/test-pandoc.hs. If you are adding a new reader or writer, it is probably easiest to add some data files to the test directory, and modify test/Tests/Old.hs. Otherwise, it is better to modify the module under the test/Tests hierarchy corresponding to the pandoc module you are changing. Alternatively, you may add a “command test” to the /test/command/ hierarchy, following the pattern of the tests there. These test files should have a meaningful name, which can include the issue number and/or the feature that’s being tested. For example, refers to both issue and feature.

You can rebuild the golden tests in tests/ by passing --accept to the test script. (If you’re using stack, stack test --test-arguments "--accept"; or make TESTARGS=--accept). Then check the changed golden files for accuracy, and commit the changes. For docx or pptx tests, open the files in Word or Powerpoint to ensure that they weren’t corrupted and that they had the expected result, and mention the Word/Powerpoint version and OS in your commit comment.

Code style

Pandoc uses hlint to identify opportunities for code improvements like redundant brackets or unnecessary Language extensions. However, sometimes there are cases where there are good reasons to use code different from what hlint proposes. In these cases, the respective warning should be disabled in the file .hlint.yaml.

There should be no errors when running hlint .; this is checked by the continuous integration (CI) setup. It is recommended that contributors check their code with a local hlint installation, but relying on the CI is fine, too.

A good way to ensure no new warnings are introduced is to use a Git pre-commit hook which runs hlint on all updated Haskell files before creating a commit:

git diff --diff-filter=MA --cached --name-only | grep '\.hs$' | \
  xargs hlint --hint .hlint.yaml

(If you are using GNU xargs, add the -r option immediately after xargs.)

Saving this to .git/hooks/pre-commit, and making the script executable, will prevent accidental introduction of potentially problematic code.


To run benchmarks with cabal:

cabal configure --enable-benchmarks
cabal build
cabal bench

With stack:

stack bench

Using the REPL

With a recent version of cabal, you can do cabal repl and get a ghci REPL for working with pandoc. With stack, use stack ghci.

We recommend using the following .ghci file (which can be placed in the source directory):

:set -fobject-code
:set -XTypeSynonymInstances
:set -XScopedTypeVariables
:set -XOverloadedStrings


To diagnose a performance issue with parsing, first try using the --trace option. This will give you a record of when block parsers succeed, so you can spot backtracking issues.

To use the GHC profiler with cabal:

cabal clean
cabal install --enable-library-profiling --enable-executable-profiling
pandoc +RTS -p -RTS [file]...

With stack:

stack clean
stack install --profile
pandoc +RTS -p -RTS [file]...

The code

Pandoc has a publicly accessible git repository on GitHub: To get a local copy of the source:

git clone

The source for the main pandoc program is pandoc.hs. The source for the pandoc library is in src/, the source for the tests is in test/, and the source for the benchmarks is in benchmark/.

The modules Text.Pandoc.Definition, Text.Pandoc.Builder, and Text.Pandoc.Generic are in a separate library pandoc-types. The code can be found in

To build pandoc, you will need a working installation of the Haskell platform.

The library is structured as follows:

  • Text.Pandoc is a top-level module that exports what is needed by most users of the library. Any patches that add new readers or writers will need to make changes here, too.
  • Text.Pandoc.Definition (in pandoc-types) defines the types used for representing a pandoc document.
  • Text.Pandoc.Builder (in pandoc-types) provides functions for building pandoc documents programmatically.
  • Text.Pandoc.Generics (in pandoc-types) provides functions allowing you to promote functions that operate on parts of pandoc documents to functions that operate on whole pandoc documents, walking the tree automatically.
  • Text.Pandoc.Readers.* are the readers, and Text.Pandoc.Writers.* are the writers.
  • Text.Pandoc.Citeproc.* contain the code for citation handling, including an interface to the citeproc library.
  • Text.Pandoc.Data is used to embed data files when the embed_data_files cabal flag is used.
  • Text.Pandoc.Emoji is a thin wrapper around emojis.
  • Text.Pandoc.Highlighting contains the interface to the skylighting library, which is used for code syntax highlighting.
  • Text.Pandoc.ImageSize is a utility module containing functions for calculating image sizes from the contents of image files.
  • Text.Pandoc.MIME contains functions for associating MIME types with extensions.
  • Text.Pandoc.Options defines reader and writer options.
  • Text.Pandoc.PDF contains functions for producing a PDF from a LaTeX source.
  • Text.Pandoc.Parsing contains parsing functions used in multiple readers. the needs of pandoc.
  • Text.Pandoc.SelfContained contains functions for making an HTML file “self-contained,” by importing remotely linked images, CSS, and JavaScript and turning them into data: URLs.
  • Text.Pandoc.Shared is a grab-bag of shared utility functions.
  • Text.Pandoc.Writers.Shared contains utilities used in writers only.
  • Text.Pandoc.Slides contains functions for splitting a markdown document into slides, using the conventions described in the MANUAL.
  • Text.Pandoc.Templates defines pandoc’s templating system.
  • Text.Pandoc.UTF8 contains functions for converting text to and from UTF8 bytestrings (strict and lazy).
  • Text.Pandoc.Asciify contains functions to derive ascii versions of identifiers that use accented characters.
  • Text.Pandoc.UUID contains functions for generating UUIDs.
  • Text.Pandoc.XML contains functions for formatting XML.

Lua filters

If you’ve written a useful pandoc lua filter, you may want to consider submitting a pull request to the lua-filters repository.