How to Write Release Notes

Release notes are an essential part of any software development process. They provide information about the latest updates, bug fixes, and new features of a software release. In this article, we will explore the importance of good release notes, what to include and what to avoid, as well as the standard format for writing release notes. Additionally, we will showcase five examples of great release notes that you can take inspiration from.

What are release notes?

Release notes, also known as changelogs or release announcements, are documents or web pages that inform users about the changes made in a software release. They serve as a communication channel between the software development team and the users, keeping them informed about the latest updates and improvements.

Release notes are crucial for users to understand the evolution of the software they are using. By detailing the modifications, enhancements, and bug fixes, users can better appreciate the effort put into each update by the development team. Additionally, release notes can also provide insights into the future direction of the software, giving users a glimpse of what to expect in upcoming releases.

Release notes typically include a summary of the changes made, bug fixes, new features, and known issues. They may also provide instructions on how to install or update the software, along with any compatibility requirements or known limitations. Users can refer to release notes to troubleshoot issues they may encounter after an update or to explore new functionalities that have been introduced.

The importance of good release notes

Good release notes play a crucial role in enhancing user experience and customer satisfaction. They help users understand the changes introduced in the software, which can aid in troubleshooting issues and using new features effectively.

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Clear and concise release notes can also reduce the number of support tickets and inquiries for the software development team. By providing comprehensive information about the changes made, users can find answers to their questions or fix problems without the need for assistance.

Moreover, well-crafted release notes can serve as a valuable communication tool between the development team and the users. They create transparency and build trust by keeping users informed about the progress of the software and the team's commitment to continuous improvement.

Additionally, release notes can act as a historical record of the software's evolution, documenting the journey from one version to the next. This can be particularly useful for users who want to track the development of specific features or understand the rationale behind certain changes.

What do you write in a release note?

When writing release notes, it is important to convey the necessary information in a user-friendly manner. Start by providing a brief overview of the software release, highlighting the key changes and improvements.

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Next, divide the release notes into sections, categorizing the changes based on their nature. For example, you can have sections for bug fixes, new features, enhancements, and known issues. This organization helps users easily find the information they are looking for.

For each change or feature, provide a descriptive title or heading, followed by a detailed explanation. Use clear and concise language, avoiding technical jargon whenever possible. If necessary, include step-by-step instructions or links to additional resources.

It's also beneficial to include a section on user feedback and how it has influenced the current release. This shows users that their input is valued and can lead to improvements in future updates. Additionally, consider adding a section on performance improvements or optimizations that have been made in the software. Users appreciate knowing that the software is not only getting new features but also becoming more efficient.

Another helpful addition to release notes is a section on compatibility and system requirements. Inform users about any changes in supported operating systems, browsers, or hardware specifications. This transparency helps users understand if the software will work on their devices without any issues.

What not to include in release notes?

While it is important to provide comprehensive information, there are certain things that should be avoided in release notes:

  • Avoid vague or generic descriptions. Be specific about the changes made and the impact they have on the software.

  • Avoid unnecessary technical details that the average user may not understand. Keep the language simple and straightforward.

  • Avoid marketing or promotional language. Release notes should focus on delivering accurate and useful information, rather than selling the software.

  • Avoid excessive length. Be concise but informative, keeping in mind that users may not have the time or patience to read through lengthy release notes.

When crafting release notes, it's essential to strike a balance between providing enough detail for users to understand the changes and not overwhelming them with technical jargon. Including relevant screenshots or videos can also enhance the release notes, offering visual aids to help users grasp the updates more easily.

Additionally, consider including a section in the release notes that highlights any known issues or bugs that users may encounter after updating the software. This transparency can help manage user expectations and provide guidance on how to address potential issues, ultimately improving the overall user experience.

What is the standard for release notes?

While there is no one-size-fits-all standard for writing release notes, there are some common practices that can be followed:

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  1. Start with a clear and informative title that highlights the software release version.

  2. Provide a summary of the changes made and a brief overview of the release.

  3. Organize the release notes into sections, categorizing the changes based on their nature.

  4. Use clear and concise language, avoiding technical jargon whenever possible.

  5. Include any necessary instructions or links to additional resources.

  6. End with a call to action, encouraging users to provide feedback or report any issues they encounter.

When creating release notes, it's essential to consider your target audience. Are they technical users who require in-depth details about every change, or are they general users who just want to know what's new in the software? Tailoring the level of detail in your release notes can greatly enhance the user experience and ensure that the information provided is relevant and useful.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is the tone of your release notes. While it's crucial to convey information clearly, injecting a bit of personality and warmth into your writing can make the release notes more engaging for users. Remember, release notes are not just about listing changes but also about communicating with your audience and building a connection with them.

5 examples of great release notes

Looking for inspiration? Here are five examples of release notes done right:

  1. Example 1: This release notes page provides a concise summary of the changes made, with easy navigation to specific sections.

  2. Example 2: These release notes focus on the benefit to the user, clearly explaining how the changes improve their experience.

  3. Example 3: This release notes page uses visuals and screenshots to showcase the new features, making it visually engaging.

  4. Example 4: These release notes include a troubleshooting section, offering solutions to common issues users may encounter.

  5. Example 5: This release notes page encourages user feedback and provides a contact form for users to report any problems or suggestions.

In conclusion, writing good release notes is essential for effective communication between software development teams and users. By following best practices, organizing the information properly, and keeping the language user-friendly, you can create release notes that enhance the user experience and streamline the support process. Take inspiration from the examples provided to create informative and engaging release notes for your software releases.

When it comes to crafting release notes, it's important to remember that they serve as a bridge between the developers and the end-users. A well-written release note not only informs users about the changes but also helps them understand the value these updates bring to their daily interactions with the software.

Moreover, incorporating user testimonials or success stories in release notes can add a personal touch and demonstrate real-world applications of the new features. This approach not only highlights the practical benefits of the updates but also fosters a sense of community among users, showing that their feedback is valued and acted upon.

Last Updated:

Kareem Mayan

Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.

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