Release Notes Templates: A comprehensive Guide

Product release notes are used by all — whether they know it or not, is another question for another time. Users of a product or application would have checked about the advantages of a new feature at some time, and they would have made use of the product release notes.

What are software release notes?

On the other end of the spectrum, who would introduce the features to the customers — are the changes big enough to involve the marketing team, or can the sales team personally explain the details to key customers? There are multiple questions that need answered during every release, and release notes that take different shapes and forms are best equipped to do that.

What is a release notes template?

Having to write release notes in different formats is essential in communicating the latest features to different target audiences. Corporate users may not be interested in UT changes, but adding ‘shop’ features on regular posts might be important to them (and the general public may not care initially). Having templates for these ensures that the right information gets highlighted based on the user segment it is generated for.

Why are release notes important?

The benefits of release notes

Improvement of team & customer communication

Establishing product narrative

What do you write in release notes?

Understanding what not to write in release notes is also important. Ultimately, the aim of release notes is to be useful to a large section of the user base. The best way to do that is to include how the changes add value to the users, and the marketing team can help if there are issues in articulating the message.

Different Types of Release Notes Templates

  • Software release notes template
  • Confluence release notes template
  • Product release notes template
  • Release notes email template

The method of information dissemination might be different in these formats of notes templates, but their essence is the same: provide information that is relevant to the target audience. Software release notes templates focus on the technical side, while email templates may focus on the benefits and mention the tech changes as a footnote.

Release notes mistakes to avoid

Not talking to the users

Being vague

Not keeping short

Examples of great release notes

Great release notes are accessible

Great release notes are organized

Release Note Software

Quick formats, quicker sharing

In order to trigger generation of release notes, rules can be set — so that relevant people to groups get the information they need, in the way they can quickly digest. Be it an email to the higher ups, a pdf for client review, or an email chain among colleagues — ARN can generate reports based on any rule that is set. Even webhooks are available for integrating with other tools.

Additional Release Note resources

Release notes is an untapped exercise for customer & stakeholder communication. With targeted & useful content you can actually increase the engagement with your product & processes. Automated release notes for Jira takes away the tedious, manual stuff and brings in efficiency with the power of automation.

FAQ on Release Notes template

Release notes are necessary for users to understand the changes and developments made in the product or solution. They also provide a roadmap and history of the product, and chronicle the changes in one place.

How do I make a release note?

While organizations can structure product release notes as they want, there are some common elements that need to be present.

  • Header that includes the name of the product, release number, and date of release
  • Overview section gives a brief description of the contents of release notes.
  • Issue section lists the bugs/issues addressed, and provides a short description — and steps to reproduce are described in case of a bug.
  • Resolution section mentions the changes made to address the bugs, issues or feature requests.
  • Impact section defines any actions that are needed to support the release, by users and/or confluence administrators.

Other than these, writing a release note should be a concise, to the point affair — users skim release notes.

How do I create a release note in Jira?

The bare bones reporting feature of Jira can be used to generate product release notes, and here are the steps:

  1. Pick Projects from navigation bar
  2. Select your project (either from the list, or navigate to the project from View all projects)
  3. Select Versions (Releases in Jira) in the project sidebar
  4. Select the Version (or release) for which release notes are to be generated
  5. Select Release Notes and click the ‘Configure Release Notes‘ link
  • Pick the right version from ‘Please select version‘ drop-down
  • Select the format in which release notes are required from the ‘Please select style‘ drop-down
  1. Click the ‘Create‘ button to generate notes based on a specific template in a specific format.

The display results can be copied and pasted in another document, or can be exported into the version desired.

What is the difference between release and version?

Before release and version, we need to understand what build is — it is an executable or a library created by compiling source code. As new features get added, the older builds (or executables) no longer work — and a new release needs to be created for the general public to use.

This release is a version that was deemed acceptable to be used by a certain set of customers. There are plenty of other releases in the middle, where changes either cause undesired results or fail to work altogether.

Build number is the number of times the main program or library has been compiled: That’s why it makes sense to only release builds with meaningful changes. Version 3.1.4 means it’s the third edition with at least 1 major difference from 3.0, and 4 minor change events (bug fixes and/or updates).

How do I make release notes automatically?

Many app stores make release notes a central part of software updates, but few companies actually take the time to write and organise them for off-platform applications. The most accessible way would be to create documents with macro settings feature on Microsoft Word, but the complexity might be high. Release notes should be easily accessible, well-organized and written for humans, showcasing the features and bug fixes associated with each release cycle.

Automated Release Notes for Jira — Source: Automated Release Notes

Automated Release Notes is a Jira add-on that automates the generation of release notes & communication of those release notes to customers and stakeholders. By pulling from Jira issues and custom fields, ARN makes it easy to generate customisable release notes in a variety of formats. Some of the formats include email, PDF, Confluence, JSON, HTML and more.

ARN also has integrations for in-app notifications (pictured above) and can be triggered from your continuous integration system via a webhook. You can configure different versions of the same release notes to be sent to stakeholders prior to a release and customers after a release to make sure everyone is on the same page at all times.

Schedule a demo or add it to your Jira project today!

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Mithila Raikar Shigaonkar

Brand and content strategist at Amoeboids. Helps Organizations Improve Efficiency, Accelerate Productivity and Achieve Customer Success