Release Notes: How I Write Them

Note: Do you need an experienced Release Notes writer? Visit my new Freelance Writer site today! Select (opens in a new window).

Someone recently asked me how to write release notes. Here’s my answer so others can see my response.

I have a strong background in technical writing. In fact, for the majority of my career I’ve worn two hats simultaneously: instructional designer and technical writer, when I worked for large corporations with small training and documentation budgets.

release notes






Then, some years ago I dove head first into instructional design (ILT) and in 2007, I moved into e-learning design and added e-learning development to my tool box of skills. But, I digress.

Here’s my philosophy on how to write release notes for software programs. I’m very open to following a client’s template to get the job done.

Release notes:

  • Explain what changed in the software’s new version compared to the previous version.
  • Are brief, and written for the intended audience (end user, internal customer service, etc.).
  • Communicate clearly the most important news and features of the newly released version.
  • Contain links to user assistance resources (online help, tech support).
  • Can contain all previous notes of prior versions, with the most current notes at the top of the document file. (Depends on the client’s preference.)

Release Notes Format – My Suggested Approach:

  • Product’s name
  • New version number
  • Release date
  • One (brief) sentence overview
  • System requirements (additions and deletions)
  • What’s new (additions)
  • What’s been removed (removals or deletions)
  • What’s changed (changes)
  • What we fixed (fixes)
  • Links to user assistance resources:
    • Installation manual
    • Quick start guide
    • User manual
    • Archive of release notes
    • Online help
  • Help Desk (tech support or customer service, or both) contact information

So, if you’re wanting someone to write release notes for your product, yes, I can do that for you. Feel free to contact me and arrange a conversation at your convenience!

~Jenise Cook

@jenisecook on Twitter

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