1   rst Structural Element Examples

Here’s the quick reference for RST.

1.1   Transitions

Here’s a transition line:

It divides the section.

1.2   Inline Markup

Paragraphs contain text and may contain inline markup: emphasis, strong emphasis, inline literals, standalone hyperlinks (http://www.python.org), external hyperlinks (Python), internal cross-references (example), external hyperlinks with embedded URIs (Python web site), footnote references (manually numbered [1], anonymous auto-numbered [3], labeled auto-numbered [2], or symbolic [*]), citation references ([CIT2002]), and inline hyperlink targets (see Targets below for a reference back to here). Character-level inline markup is also possible (although exceedingly ugly!) in reStructuredText.

The default role for interpreted text is Title Reference. Here are some explicit interpreted text roles: a PEP reference (PEP 287); an RFC reference (RFC 2822); a subscript; a superscript; and explicit roles for standard inline markup.

Let’s test wrapping and whitespace significance in inline literals: This is an example of --inline-literal --text, --including some-- strangely--hyphenated-words.  Adjust-the-width-of-your-browser-window to see how the text is wrapped.  -- ---- --------  Now note    the spacing    between the    words of    this sentence    (words should    be grouped    in pairs).

If the --pep-references option was supplied, there should be a live link to PEP 258 here.

1.3   Body Elements

1.3.1   Section Title

That’s a section title: the text just above this line.

1.3.3   Bullet Lists

  • A bullet list

    • Nested bullet list.
    • Nested item 2.
  • Item 2.

    Paragraph 2 of item 2.

    • Nested bullet list.
    • Nested item 2.
      • Third level.
      • Item 2.
    • Nested item 3.

1.3.4   Enumerated Lists

  1. Arabic numerals.

    1. lower alpha)
      1. (lower roman)
        1. upper alpha.
          1. upper roman)
  2. Lists that don’t start at 1:

    1. Three
    2. Four
    1. C
    2. D
    1. iii
    2. iv
  3. List items may also be auto-enumerated.

1.3.5   Definition Lists

Term : classifier

Definition paragraph 1.

Definition paragraph 2.


1.4   Formatting

Double-dashes – “–” – must be escaped somehow in HTML output.

1.4.1   Field Lists


Field lists map field names to field bodies, like database records. They are often part of an extension syntax. They are an unambiguous variant of RFC 2822 fields.

how arg1 arg2:

The field marker is a colon, the field name, and a colon.

The field body may contain one or more body elements, indented relative to the field marker.

Here’s an example of a field list:

Field List:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

some text

Field List 2:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor

1.4.2   Option Lists

For listing command-line options:

-a command-line option “a”
-b file options can have arguments and long descriptions
--long options can be long also
--input=file long options can also have arguments

The description can also start on the next line.

The description may contain multiple body elements, regardless of where it starts.

-x, -y, -z Multiple options are an “option group”.
-v, --verbose Commonly-seen: short & long options.
-1 file, --one=file, --two file
 Multiple options with arguments.
/V DOS/VMS-style options too

There must be at least two spaces between the option and the description.

1.5   Literal Blocks

Literal blocks are indicated with a double-colon (”::”) at the end of the preceding paragraph (over there -->). They can be indented:

if literal_block:
    text = 'is left as-is'
    spaces_and_linebreaks = 'are preserved'
    markup_processing = None

Or they can be quoted without indentation:

>> Great idea!
> Why didn't I think of that?

1.5.1   Line Blocks

This is a line block. It ends with a blank line.
Each new line begins with a vertical bar (“|”).
Line breaks and initial indents are preserved.
Continuation lines are wrapped portions of long lines; they begin with a space in place of the vertical bar.
The left edge of a continuation line need not be aligned with the left edge of the text above it.
This is a second line block.

Blank lines are permitted internally, but they must begin with a “|”.

Take it away, Eric the Orchestra Leader!

A one, two, a one two three four

Half a bee, philosophically,
must, ipso facto, half not be.
But half the bee has got to be,
vis a vis its entity. D’you see?

But can a bee be said to be
or not to be an entire bee,
when half the bee is not a bee,
due to some ancient injury?


1.5.2   Block Quotes

Block quotes consist of indented body elements:

My theory by A. Elk. Brackets Miss, brackets. This theory goes as follows and begins now. All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end. That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too.

—Anne Elk (Miss)

1.5.3   Doctest Blocks

>>> print 'Python-specific usage examples; begun with ">>>"'
Python-specific usage examples; begun with ">>>"
>>> print '(cut and pasted from interactive Python sessions)'
(cut and pasted from interactive Python sessions)

1.6   Tables

Here’s a grid table followed by a simple table:

Header row, column 1 (header rows optional) Header 2 Header 3 Header 4
body row 1, column 1 column 2 column 3 column 4
body row 2 Cells may span columns.
body row 3 Cells may span rows.
  • Table cells
  • contain
  • body elements.
body row 4
body row 5 Cells may also be empty: -->  
Inputs Output
A B A or B
False False False
True False True
False True True
True True True

1.7   Footnotes

[1](1, 2)

A footnote contains body elements, consistently indented by at least 3 spaces.

This is the footnote’s second paragraph.

[2](1, 2) Footnotes may be numbered, either manually (as in [1]) or automatically using a “#”-prefixed label. This footnote has a label so it can be referred to from multiple places, both as a footnote reference ([2]) and as a hyperlink reference (label).
[3]This footnote is numbered automatically and anonymously using a label of “#” only.
[*]Footnotes may also use symbols, specified with a “*” label. Here’s a reference to the next footnote: [†].
[†]This footnote shows the next symbol in the sequence.
[4]Here’s an unreferenced footnote

1.8   Citations

[CIT2002](1, 2) Citations are text-labeled footnotes. They may be rendered separately and differently from footnotes.

Here’s a reference to the above, [CIT2002]

1.9   Targets

This paragraph is pointed to by the explicit _example target. A reference can be found under Inline Markup, above. Inline hyperlink targets are also possible.

Section headers are implicit targets, referred to by name. See Targets, which is a subsection of Body Elements.

1.9.1   External targets

Explicit external targets are interpolated into references such as “Python”.

Here’s a reference to the Definitinve RST Reference documentation.

You can refer to another rst document within the site with a Sphinx directive. A reference to the 1   Examples of Code in rst like this: :ref:`rst_code`

Targets may be indirect and anonymous. Thus this phrase may also refer to the Targets section.

1.9.2   Target Footnotes

If you use the .. target-notes:: directive, footnotes for all external references will be generated, and the footnotes themselves will be put after that directive. (Thus you usually want to put the directive at the bottom of a document so the footnotes will be at the bottom – the foot of the document.

Target footnoes are not used in this document. But you can see it in action in this one <rst_tiny>.

1.10   Directives

These are just a sample of the many reStructuredText Directives. For others, please see http://docutils.sourceforge.net/docs/ref/rst/directives.html.

An example of the “contents” directive can be seen above this section (a local, untitled table of contents) and at the beginning of the document (a document-wide table of contents).

1.11   Images

An image directive with a link (target) to the Targets section. (The image is a clickable link):

Happy, wonderful, smiling Mandy.

A figure is an image with a caption and/or a legend:


Cats on the internet are fine. But dogs on the internet are fanTAStic!

A figure directive with center alignment and width of 100. (If you click on it, you’ll see the lovely full-sized image.)


1.12   Admonition Boxes


Attention - Directives at large.


Don’t take any wooden nickels.


Mad scientist at work!


Does not compute.


It’s bigger than a bread box.


These things are imporant: - Wash behind your ears. - Be nice. - Clean up your room. - Back up your data.


This is a note.


15% if the service is good.


Strong prose may provoke extreme mental exertion. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

And, by the way...

You can make up your own admonition too.

1.13   Topics, Sidebars, and Rubrics

Topic Title

This is a topic.

This is a rubric

This paragraph contains a literal block:

Connecting... OK
Transmitting data... OK
Disconnecting... OK

and thus consists of a simple paragraph, a literal block, and another simple paragraph. Nonetheless it is semantically one paragraph.

This construct is called a compound paragraph and can be produced with the “compound” directive.

1.14   Substitution

An inline image example: Instead of showing the words biohazard, show (biohazard)

The code to accomplish a substitution (a.k.a. replacement) is:

An inline image example:  Instead of showing the words ``biohazard``, show  (|biohazard|)

.. |biohazard| image:: static/tiny-Biohazard_symbol.png

I recommend that you try Smalltalk, the best language around.

In the preceding text, |`Python web site <http://www.python.org>`__| was replaced with `Smalltalk <http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?SmalltalkLanguage>`__


Here’s one:

Of course you can’t see it, because it’s a comment in the source for this file. Here’s the what the rst for the comment looks like in the rst source for this file:

.. Comments begin with two dots and a space. Anything may
follow, except for the syntax of footnotes, hyperlink
targets, directives, or substitution definitions.