Building the NumPy API and reference docs

We currently use Sphinx for generating the API and reference documentation for NumPy. You will need Sphinx 1.8.3 or newer.

If you only want to get the documentation, note that pre-built versions can be found at

in several different formats.


If you obtained NumPy via git, get also the git submodules that contain additional parts required for building the documentation:

git submodule init
git submodule update

In addition, building the documentation requires the Sphinx extension plot_directive, which is shipped with Matplotlib. This Sphinx extension can be installed by installing Matplotlib. You will also need python3.6.

Since large parts of the main documentation are stored in docstrings, you will need to first build NumPy, and install it so that the correct version is imported by

>>> import numpy

Note that you can eg. install NumPy to a temporary location and set the PYTHONPATH environment variable appropriately.

After NumPy is installed, install SciPy since some of the plots in the random module require scipy.special to display properly. Now you are ready to generate the docs, so write:

make html

in the doc/ directory. If all goes well, this will generate a build/html subdirectory containing the built documentation. Note that building the documentation on Windows is currently not actively supported, though it should be possible. (See Sphinx documentation for more information.)

To build the PDF documentation, do instead:

make latex
make -C build/latex all-pdf

You will need to have Latex installed for this.

Instead of the above, you can also do:

make dist

which will rebuild NumPy, install it to a temporary location, and build the documentation in all formats. This will most likely again only work on Unix platforms.

The documentation for NumPy distributed at in html and pdf format is also built with make dist. See HOWTO RELEASE for details on how to update

Sphinx extensions

NumPy’s documentation uses several custom extensions to Sphinx. These are shipped in the sphinxext/ directory (as git submodules, as discussed above), and are automatically enabled when building NumPy’s documentation.

If you want to make use of these extensions in third-party projects, they are available on PyPi as the numpydoc package.