If you write commit messages every day, you might find it helpful to have a template to help you format your messages. I’ve found a template helpful for including the names of co-authors I work with often so that I don’t have to look them up every time and for making sure my commits follow the format expected by the rest of my team. Setting one up is very easy!

In this quick tip I’ll show you how to set a template for an individual repository as well as globally.

Local Commit Template

To set a template up locally, first cd to your project’s directory. Now create a template file at .git/.gitmessage.txt. The name of the template file can be whatever you want it to be as long as it matches what we set in the configuration later.

The contents of the template can also be whatever you want it to be! Lines that begin with a # are comments and will not appear in the final commit message.

Here is my current template. I pair often and so I include Co-authored-by tags for the people I commonly pair with. When I pair with one of them, I just uncomment the line for them (remove the #). In GitHub, Co-authored-by tags will make the pictures of collaborators appear on the commit with the main author, which is pretty cool. On my current team we will include a link to the story from our project tracking software in the commits, so I include a prompt for that in my template. I also included a link to a handy blog post as a reference for writing good commit messages.


# Co-authored-by: Bea <bea@acme.com>
# Co-authored-by: Abby <abby@acme.com>
# Co-authored-by: Juan <juan@acme.com>
# Guide: https://thoughtbot.com/blog/5-useful-tips-for-a-better-commit-message

Now, set this file as your commit template for the current repository using:

$ git config commit.template .git/.gitmessage.txt

The next time you make a commit in that repo, (eg. git commit) you will see your template when Git opens your editor for creating the commit message.

Global Commit Template

Recently, I’ve been working on several projects across several repos and I didn’t want to have to set up the same template in each. Thankfully, we can set up a global template!

This time, we’ll put the template file in the home directory ~/.gitmessage.txt and then set our global git configuration to look for it:

$ git config --global commit.template ~/.gitmessage.txt

That’s it! Local git configuration supersedes global, so if you want to add local templates on specific repos you still can and they will be used instead of the global template.