GITCLI(7)                        Git Manual                        GITCLI(7)

NAME         top

       gitcli - Git command-line interface and conventions

SYNOPSIS         top


DESCRIPTION         top

       This manual describes the convention used throughout Git CLI.

       Many commands take revisions (most often "commits", but sometimes
       "tree-ish", depending on the context and command) and paths as their
       arguments. Here are the rules:

       ·   Revisions come first and then paths. E.g. in git diff v1.0 v2.0
           arch/x86 include/asm-x86, v1.0 and v2.0 are revisions and
           arch/x86 and include/asm-x86 are paths.

       ·   When an argument can be misunderstood as either a revision or a
           path, they can be disambiguated by placing -- between them. E.g.
           git diff -- HEAD is, "I have a file called HEAD in my work tree.
           Please show changes between the version I staged in the index and
           what I have in the work tree for that file", not "show difference
           between the HEAD commit and the work tree as a whole". You can
           say git diff HEAD -- to ask for the latter.

       ·   Without disambiguating --, Git makes a reasonable guess, but
           errors out and asking you to disambiguate when ambiguous. E.g. if
           you have a file called HEAD in your work tree, git diff HEAD is
           ambiguous, and you have to say either git diff HEAD -- or git
           diff -- HEAD to disambiguate.

           When writing a script that is expected to handle random
           user-input, it is a good practice to make it explicit which
           arguments are which by placing disambiguating -- at appropriate

       ·   Many commands allow wildcards in paths, but you need to protect
           them from getting globbed by the shell. These two mean different

               $ git checkout -- *.c
               $ git checkout -- \*.c

           The former lets your shell expand the fileglob, and you are
           asking the dot-C files in your working tree to be overwritten
           with the version in the index. The latter passes the *.c to Git,
           and you are asking the paths in the index that match the pattern
           to be checked out to your working tree. After running git add
           hello.c; rm hello.c, you will not see hello.c in your working
           tree with the former, but with the latter you will.

       ·   Just as the filesystem .  (period) refers to the current
           directory, using a .  as a repository name in Git (a
           dot-repository) is a relative path and means your current

       Here are the rules regarding the "flags" that you should follow when
       you are scripting Git:

       ·   it’s preferred to use the non-dashed form of Git commands, which
           means that you should prefer git foo to git-foo.

       ·   splitting short options to separate words (prefer git foo -a -b
           to git foo -ab, the latter may not even work).

       ·   when a command-line option takes an argument, use the stuck form.
           In other words, write git foo -oArg instead of git foo -o Arg for
           short options, and git foo --long-opt=Arg instead of git foo
           --long-opt Arg for long options. An option that takes optional
           option-argument must be written in the stuck form.

       ·   when you give a revision parameter to a command, make sure the
           parameter is not ambiguous with a name of a file in the work
           tree. E.g. do not write git log -1 HEAD but write git log -1 HEAD
           --; the former will not work if you happen to have a file called
           HEAD in the work tree.

       ·   many commands allow a long option --option to be abbreviated only
           to their unique prefix (e.g. if there is no other option whose
           name begins with opt, you may be able to spell --opt to invoke
           the --option flag), but you should fully spell them out when
           writing your scripts; later versions of Git may introduce a new
           option whose name shares the same prefix, e.g.  --optimize, to
           make a short prefix that used to be unique no longer unique.


       From the Git 1.5.4 series and further, many Git commands (not all of
       them at the time of the writing though) come with an enhanced option

       Here is a list of the facilities provided by this option parser.

   Magic Options
       Commands which have the enhanced option parser activated all
       understand a couple of magic command-line options:

           gives a pretty printed usage of the command.

               $ git describe -h
               usage: git describe [<options>] <commit-ish>*
                  or: git describe [<options>] --dirty

                   --contains            find the tag that comes after the commit
                   --debug               debug search strategy on stderr
                   --all                 use any ref
                   --tags                use any tag, even unannotated
                   --long                always use long format
                   --abbrev[=<n>]        use <n> digits to display SHA-1s

           Some Git commands take options that are only used for plumbing or
           that are deprecated, and such options are hidden from the default
           usage. This option gives the full list of options.

   Negating options
       Options with long option names can be negated by prefixing --no-. For
       example, git branch has the option --track which is on by default.
       You can use --no-track to override that behaviour. The same goes for
       --color and --no-color.

   Aggregating short options
       Commands that support the enhanced option parser allow you to
       aggregate short options. This means that you can for example use git
       rm -rf or git clean -fdx.

   Abbreviating long options
       Commands that support the enhanced option parser accepts unique
       prefix of a long option as if it is fully spelled out, but use this
       with a caution. For example, git commit --amen behaves as if you
       typed git commit --amend, but that is true only until a later version
       of Git introduces another option that shares the same prefix, e.g.
       git commit --amenity option.

   Separating argument from the option
       You can write the mandatory option parameter to an option as a
       separate word on the command line. That means that all the following
       uses work:

           $ git foo --long-opt=Arg
           $ git foo --long-opt Arg
           $ git foo -oArg
           $ git foo -o Arg

       However, this is NOT allowed for switches with an optional value,
       where the stuck form must be used:

           $ git describe --abbrev HEAD     # correct
           $ git describe --abbrev=10 HEAD  # correct
           $ git describe --abbrev 10 HEAD  # NOT WHAT YOU MEANT


       Many commands that can work on files in the working tree and/or in
       the index can take --cached and/or --index options. Sometimes people
       incorrectly think that, because the index was originally called
       cache, these two are synonyms. They are not — these two options mean
       very different things.

       ·   The --cached option is used to ask a command that usually works
           on files in the working tree to only work with the index. For
           example, git grep, when used without a commit to specify from
           which commit to look for strings in, usually works on files in
           the working tree, but with the --cached option, it looks for
           strings in the index.

       ·   The --index option is used to ask a command that usually works on
           files in the working tree to also affect the index. For example,
           git stash apply usually merges changes recorded in a stash entry
           to the working tree, but with the --index option, it also merges
           changes to the index as well.

       git apply command can be used with --cached and --index (but not at
       the same time). Usually the command only affects the files in the
       working tree, but with --index, it patches both the files and their
       index entries, and with --cached, it modifies only the index entries.

       See also and for further information.

GIT         top

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COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the git (Git distributed version control system)
       project.  Information about the project can be found at 
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a bug report for this manual page,
       see ⟨⟩.  This page was obtained from the
       project's upstream Git repository ⟨⟩ on
       2018-10-29.  (At that time, the date of the most recent commit that
       was found in the repository was 2018-10-26.)  If you discover any
       rendering problems in this HTML version of the page, or you believe
       there is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or you have
       corrections or improvements to the information in this COLOPHON
       (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to

Git           10/28/2018                        GITCLI(7)

Pages that refer to this page: git(1)gitk(1)git-rev-parse(1)