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Whether you’re starting a completely new software project or wanting to take a “Docs as Code” approach with your documentation on GitHub, one of the first steps is creating a repository (repo). Here’s how it’s done.

Why Create a GitHub Repo?

Git is an open-source distributed revision control system that allows multiple developers (and writers!) to constantly and consecutively make and track changes to code or documentation in a centralized location without overriding someone else’s work. This version control makes it so that if something breaks, you can easily hunt down the source of the problem and revert back to a working version before the problematic code is pushed.

It’s also good for tracking who contributed to what and when. This is especially important when multiple people from different time zones are contributing to one project.

RELATED: What Is GitHub, and What Is It Used For?

By creating a GitHub repo, you bring these benefits to your project. Additionally, if you allow your repo to be open to the public, others can contribute—whether that involves fixing broken code or even making corrections to typos. You may even be able to release a working beta version ahead of schedule. Open source is a beautiful thing.

How to Create a GitHub Repo

To set up a project on GitHub, you’ll need to create a repo. To do so, log in to (or create) your GitHub account. Once logged in, click the “+” icon on the right side of the header menu (which is accessible from anywhere on the site). Select “New Repository” in the drop-down menu that appears.

New repository option in Github menu

You’ll now be on the “Create a New Repository” page. Choose the owner of the repo and give it a short, memorable name. Keep in mind that the name of the repo needs to be URL-friendly. While there is no strict convention, the most popular way is to use all lowercase letters while separating words with a hyphen, such as example-repo-name. If you use spaces in the name, a hyphen will be added in its place.

Once you’ve named your repo, give it a brief description and choose whether you want to make the repo public or private.

Create repo name and description

Next, you can:

These are optional but highly recommended to add. When you’re ready, click “Create Repository.”

Create repository button

Your repo is now created.

Once you’ve created a repo, you can clone it to your local machine, which allows you to make edits to the content locally rather than directly to the source files in the repo.

RELATED: How to Clone a GitHub Repository

Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
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