Making a PyPI-friendly README#

README files can help your users understand your project and can be used to set your project’s description on PyPI. This guide helps you create a README in a PyPI-friendly format and include your README in your package so it appears on PyPI.

Creating a README file#

README files for Python projects are often named README, README.txt, README.rst, or

For your README to display properly on PyPI, choose a markup language supported by PyPI. Formats supported by PyPI’s README renderer are:

It’s customary to save your README file in the root of your project, in the same directory as your file.

Including your README in your package’s metadata#

To include your README’s contents as your package description, set your project’s Description and Description-Content-Type metadata, typically in your project’s file.

For example, to set these values in a package’s file, use setup()’s long_description and long_description_content_type.

Set the value of long_description to the contents (not the path) of the README file itself. Set the long_description_content_type to an accepted Content-Type-style value for your README file’s markup, such as text/plain, text/x-rst (for reStructuredText), or text/markdown.


If you’re using GitHub-flavored Markdown to write a project’s description, ensure you upgrade the following tools:

python3 -m pip install --user --upgrade setuptools wheel twine
py -m pip install --user --upgrade setuptools wheel twine

The minimum required versions of the respective tools are:

  • setuptools >= 38.6.0

  • wheel >= 0.31.0

  • twine >= 1.11.0

It’s recommended that you use twine to upload the project’s distribution packages:

twine upload dist/*

For example, see this file, which reads the contents of as long_description and identifies the markup as GitHub-flavored Markdown:

from setuptools import setup

# read the contents of your README file
from pathlib import Path
this_directory = Path(__file__).parent
long_description = (this_directory / "").read_text()

    # other arguments omitted

Validating reStructuredText markup#

If your README is written in reStructuredText, any invalid markup will prevent it from rendering, causing PyPI to instead just show the README’s raw source.

Note that Sphinx extensions used in docstrings, such as directives and roles (e.g., “:py:func:`getattr`” or “:ref:`my-reference-label`”), are not allowed here and will result in error messages like “Error: Unknown interpreted text role "py:func".”.

You can check your README for markup errors before uploading as follows:

  1. Install the latest version of twine; version 1.12.0 or higher is required:

    python3 -m pip install --upgrade twine
    py -m pip install --upgrade twine
  2. Build the sdist and wheel for your project as described under Packaging your project.

  3. Run twine check on the sdist and wheel:

    twine check dist/*

    This command will report any problems rendering your README. If your markup renders fine, the command will output Checking distribution FILENAME: Passed.