Frontmatter allows you to specify metadata and options about how your project should behave or render. Included in frontmatter are things like the document or project title, what thumbnail to use for site or content previews, authors that contributed to the work, and scientific identifiers like a doi. Adding frontmatter ensures that these properties are available to downstream tools or build processes like building Scientific PDFs.

Where to set frontmatter

Frontmatter can be set in a markdown (md) or notebook (ipynb) file (described as a “page” below) or in the project: section of a myst.yml file. When project frontmatter is set in a myst.yml file, those settings will be applied to all content in that project (apart from “page only” fields).

In a MyST markdown file

A frontmatter section can be added at the top of any md file using --- delimiters.

title: My First Article
date: 2022-05-11
  - name: Jane Bloggs
      - University of Europe

In a Jupyter Notebook

Frontmatter can be added to the first cell of a Jupyter Notebook, that cell should be a Markdown cell and use --- delimiters as above.

Using jupytext or a Markdown-based notebook?

If your Jupyter Notebook is described as a markdown file (e.g. using jupytext, or MyST), then this should be included in the frontmatter section as usual in addition to the jupyter key that defines the kernel and jupytext metadata.

In a myst.yml file

Frontmatter fields can be added directly to any project: section within a myst.yml file. If your root myst.yml file only contains a site: section, and you want to add frontmatter, add a project: section at the top level and add the fields there. e.g.

myst: v1
site: ...
  license: CC-BY-4.0
  open_access: true

Available frontmatter fields

The following table lists the available frontmatter fields, a brief description and a note on how the field behaves depending on whether it is set on a page or at the project level. Where a field itself is an object with sub-fields, see the relevant description on the page below.

Table 1:A list of available frontmatter fields and their behaviour across projects and pages

fielddescriptionfield behaviour
titlea string (max 500 chars)page & project
descriptiona string (max 500 chars)page & project
short_titlea string (max 40 chars)page & project
namea string (max 500 chars)page & project
tagsa list of stringspage only
thumbnaila link to a local or remote imagepage only
subtitlea string (max 500 chars)page only
datea valid date formatted stringpage can override project
authorsa list of author objectspage can override project
doia valid DOI, either URL or idpage can override project
arxiva valid arXiv reference, either URL or idpage can override project
open_accessboolean (true/false)page can override project
licensea license object or a stringpage can override project
githuba valid GitHub URL or owner/reponamepage can override project
binderany valid URLpage can override project
subjecta string (max 40 chars)page can override project
venuea venue objectpage can override project
biblioa biblio object with various fieldspage can override project

Field Behaviour

Frontmatter can be attached to a “page”, meaning a local .md or .ipynb or a “project”. However, individual frontmatter fields are not uniformly available at both levels, and behaviour of certain fields are different between project and page levels. There are three field behaviours to be aware of:

page & project
the field is available on both the page & project but they are independent
page only
the field is only available on pages, and not present on projects and it will be ignored if set there.
page can override project
the field is available on both page & project but the value of the field on the page will override any set of the project. Note that the page field must be omitted or undefined, for the project value to be used, value of null (or [] in the case of authors) will still override the project value but clear the field for that page.


The thumbnail is used in previews for your site in applications like Twitter, Slack, or any other link preview service. This should, by convention, be included in a thumbnails folder next to your content. You can also explicitly set this field to any other image on your local file system or a remote URL to an image. This image will get copied over to your public folder and optimized when you build your project.

thumbnail: thumbnails/myThumbnail.png

If you do not specify an image the first image in the content of a page will be selected. If you explicitly do not want an image, set thumbnail to null.


The authors field is a list of author objects. Available fields in the author object are:

namea string - the author’s full name
orcida string - a valid ORCID identifier
correspondingboolean (true/false) - flags any corresponding authors
emaila string - email of the author, required if corresponding is true


a list of strings - must be valid CRT Contributor Roles

  - name: Jane Bloggs
      - Conceptualization
      - Data curation
      - Validation


a list of strings - freeform affiliation names, e.g.

  - name: Jane Bloggs
  	  - ACME inc
      - Earth University


The date field is a string and should conform to a valid Javascript data format. Examples of acceptable date formats are:

  • 2021-12-14T10:43:51.777Z - an ISO 8601 calendar date extended format, or
  • 14 Dec 2021
  • 14 December 2021
  • 2021, December 14
  • 2021 December 14
  • 12/14/2021 - MM/DD/YYYY
  • 12-14-2021 - MM-DD-YYYY
  • 2022/12/14 - YYYY/MM/DD
  • 2022-12-14 - YYYY-MM-DD

Where the latter example in that list are valid IETF timestamps


This field can be set to a string value directly or to a License object.

Available fields in the License object are content and code allowing licenses to be set separately for these two forms of content, as often different subsets of licenses are applicable to each. If you only wish to apply a single license to your page or project use the string form rather than an object.

String values for licenses should be a valid “Identifier” string from the SPDX License List. Identifiers for well-known licenses are easily recognizable (e.g. MIT or BSD) and MyST will attempt to infer the specific identifier if an ambiguous license is specified (e.g. GPL will be interpreted as GPL-3.0+ and a warning raised letting you know of this interpretation). Some common licenses are:

Common Content LicensesCommon Code Licenses
  • CC-BY-4.0
  • CC-BY-SA-4.0
  • CC-BY-N-SA-4.0
  • CC0-1.0
  • MIT
  • BSD
  • GPL-3.0+
  • Apache-2.0
  • LGPL-3.0-or-later
  • AGPL

By using the correct SPDX Identifier, your website will automatically use the appropriate icon for the license and link to the license definition.


The term venue is borrowed from the OpenAlex API definition:

Venues are where works are hosted.

Available fields in the venue object are title and url.

Some typical venue values may be:

  title: Journal of Geophysics


  title: EuroSciPy 2022


The term biblio is borrowed from the OpenAlex API definition:

Old-timey bibliographic info for this work. This is mostly useful only in citation/reference contexts. These are all strings because sometimes you'll get fun values like "Spring" and "Inside cover."

Available fields in the biblio object are volume, issue, first_page and last_page.

Some example biblio values may be:

  volume: '42'
  issue: '3'
  first_page: '1' # can be a number or string
  last_page: '99' # can be a number or string


  volume: '2022'
  issue: Winter
  first_page: Inside cover # can be a number or string