Documentation policy for packages on CTAN

Robin Fairbairns Robin.Fairbairns at
Thu Apr 15 11:13:41 CEST 2004

Documentation of packages on CTAN

For a long time, the CTAN team has relied on the users to find their
own way to package documentation.  This reliance is proving
increasingly unsatisfactory, and we hope to improve things for archive
users, at the cost of some extra work by package authors.

Our aim is that all packages should have with them, on the archive, a
documentation file.  Since we want these files to be browsable, we
would ordinarily expect that the documentation be provided as an
Acrobat (.pdf) file; plain text (.txt) is just about acceptable,
Postscript and DVI are definitely not acceptable.

We are aware that this is a mammoth aim; it is not something the CTAN
team could even hope to do unaided, even if we wanted to.  

How does this affect _you_?

If you're merely browsing the archive (or downloading files), you
should be aware that it will be worth looking for a separate file of
documentation with packages of interest.  (There are not many there,
yet, but things should improve.)

If you're an author submitting a new or revised package, you will need
to consider how best to supply documentation.  For many LaTeX package
authors, no more is needed than to run the documented source file
(.dtx) with pdfLaTeX, and to submit the result when submitting your
package.  Some packages come with separate documentation: that
documentation should be distributed in pdf form.

If you're the author of an established package, please try to find the
time to submit a documentation file.

If you're an author, and unsure how to proceed, please contact the
CTAN team via ctan at to discuss your issues.

Robin Fairbairns

For the CTAN team

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