Release notes describe and list the changes of a software version and are normally published to the user and customer of a application or app.

What are release notes?

Release notes contain the changes of a software product that have been made in a specific software release.

The document normally contains the following elements:

  • New features, enhancements or other changes: additional functionality that has been introduced with this specific release
  • Bug fixes: errors and failures that have been corrected during this release
  • Known issues: bugs and problems that are known to the software vendor, but are not yet fixed; it might contain a workaround how the specific issue can be somehow circumvented
  • Upgrade notes: specific tasks necessary to run the upgrade, if necessary

For internal communication and documentation, a changelog or internal release notes document can be maintained during the development phase. This document includes all changes between the release of the previous release and the created future release.

How to write a release note

Writing release notes is performed by the product owner or product management. The process should already start during the development phase. Fixed issue and enhanced functionality are collected.

If a specific software management tool as Microsoft Azure DevOps or Atlassian Jira is used, the list of tickets for this specific release can be extracted. There are also add-ons to Jira and DevOps available, that help with release notes automation.

The list of issues and tickets is than grouped by ticket type (feature, user story, enhancement and bug). Within each group, the tickets can be sorted by priority (what is most important to the user) or alphabetically.

Release notes best practices

Non-finished features and enhancements should not be mentioned in the release notes. Also changes that are invisible to the user might not be noted, if no change is expected.

The language and words used in the release notes should be similar to the language used in the software, app or SaaS application – short, precise, not technical but also not “flappy”.

Start writing the release notes already during the development phase. So the QA team can use it during the software testing phase.

Get feedback from various departments before the publication of the release notes. Inform all internal stakeholders – especially the marketing and support department.

Update and prepare the software documentation during the development and testing phase. So when the release is published, the documentation is ready for the customers.

Great examples of changelog

The following companies and software provider publish regularly release notes. They are just a fraction. If you would like to add a good example, get in touch.

Release notes template

The following template of release notes is an example and should be adapted to your needs.

Release notes contain the following sections

  • Software version (optional release & build number), and/or the release date
  • Added public features
  • Fixed public bugs
  • Known issues

Additional information can be added if available or necessary, as e.g.

  • Download link
  • Supported platforms and environments
  • Prerequisites
  • Removed features
  • Installation & upgrade instructions

So a simple release notes sample could look like

Release notes example
Release notes example

Release log software

A specific release notes tool or release notes generator is not necessary. Notepad, Microsoft Word or any other word processor is good enough. The release notes should be exported to a pdf file. This release notes pdf file can be put on the website or send as release notes email to all customers.

If a support suite as ZenDesk or FreshDesk, or another product documentation software is used, create a specific page or section for the release notes.

Specific release notes management software as releasenotes.io , beamer or releasenoteshub is also available.

Get your release notes template for free

Provide us with your email address and we will send you a free template for your release notes.

We have also created a simple and free Release Notes Generator for Azure DevOps – import your tickets e.g. from a search or saved query, use the default template or customize it, and copy/paste the generated release notes. No installation necessary, no cost. We do not store your input data.

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