11 Product Release Note Templates - The Complete Catalog

Jake Brereton
|
February 8, 2022

Below are 11 release note templates, each that has been created and formatted to be easily copy and pasted. These templates include preloaded, example content that we anticipate will be replaced with your own. We also hope that you’ll add in ample images, gifs, videos, and whatever media you feel will be most beneficial to your users.

We've compiled the template catalog below after working with hundreds of teams on optimizing their own release comms strategy, as well as over a decade of first-hand experience releasing and launching software ourselves. We believe in these templates so strongly that we've also built them directly into LaunchNotes.

For additional ideas on how to write memorable release notes, please visit release note best practices.

Summary

Traditional

Time-based

Tiered

Tactical

Intro

Since the dawn of software, product release notes have been the industry standard for communicating software change. From new updates and feature launches, to regular improvements and enhancements, to bug fixes of every kind, release notes have been, and continue to be, the standard vehicle for delivering this crucial information to users.

While release notes are considered a need-to-have component of every software product, it’s important to recognize that in many cases–especially for B2B tools–release notes are more than just a box to check. Release notes have proven themselves to be one of the most powerful levers a business has to keep their users happy and engaged.

For example, Salesforce’s recent State of the Connected Customer report found that a whopping 85% of B2B buyers believe the customer experience provided by a company is more important than the product offering itself. A separate Empirical Study on Release Notes Production found that release notes are an essential component of the customer experience, and are considered by most consumers to be a “critical customer communication.” And, in case you’re under the impression that no one reads release notes anymore, a 2019 survey found that over 83% of consumers report regularly consuming release notes for the apps they use.

So if it’s an established fact that release notes are a critical component of customer communication, and over four fifths of software consumers read release notes on a regular basis, the question becomes: why doesn’t every software team regularly publish release notes?

The challenges of publishing regular release notes

If we return to the Empirical Release Notes Production study, while there are a number of potential reasons listed for lack of regular release note production, two clear trends stand out:

  1. Understanding exactly “what’s changed when” is like herding cats. Unsurprisingly, for anyone that’s worked in a software company, knowing exactly what’s changed, when, and who has been impacted can be unbelievably difficult to accurately track across the business. Mix in multiple development teams, a distributed workforce, and the speed at which software teams build and ship software in the year 2022, and this challenge gets exponentially harder.
  1. Writing great release notes takes an inordinate amount of time. Related to herding cats, the study also found that writing release notes takes an average of four to eight hours. So once a stakeholder has successfully herded all of the necessary cats and gathered all the information he or she needs, they must then spend the equivalent of an entire work day actually writing a set of release notes that are accurate, engaging, include the necessary screenshots, and so on.

So what’s the solution to these two challenges? As always, there’s never one single bullet. However, the LaunchNotes team is working hard to solve both of these problems.

Understanding exactly what changes are reaching which users when is one of the key reasons LaunchNotes exists, as one of its core purposes is to keep teams across your organization aligned with the product development process. If you’re interested in learning more about how the product does this, grab some time on our calendar and we’ll be happy to give you a quick demo.

However, regardless of whether you intend to use LaunchNotes or not, templates are our bread and butter and after working with hundreds of customers we know firsthand how much time can be saved by adopting a release notes template system. And, in that spirit, we’re happy to provide a list of the only 10 release note templates you’ll ever need, 100% free and easily copy and pastable, below.

The benefits of using release note templates

Having worked with hundreds of incredible companies and brands around the world, we’ve seen clear trends emerge across the highest performing teams. One example is the best teams prioritize consistent, regular communication with users, and specifically use release note templates to streamline this process and save hours of time in the process.

Before we go any further, here are three key reasons why regularly publishing release notes is so vital, and how templates can immediately help your team join the ranks of some of the highest performing software teams in the world.

Release note templates:

  1. Save a lot of time. Templates allow the author to jump start the content creation process, meaning he or she can skip the process of having to determine what sections and information need to be included, and spend their time focusing on compiling and creating the highest possible content.
  1. Standardize your communication. A consistent, repeatable format means your release notes will be faster to create and easier to consume. By knowing what to expect, both your users and internal stakeholders are far more likely to read and engage with your release notes.
  1. Ensure your processes will scale. Whether you're a team of one or 1,000, shipping software multiple times a day or once a year, utilizing templates is a powerful way for your release note strategy to grow alongside your business. High performing teams plan for tomorrow as much as they’re thinking about today, and ensuring your processes will scale is a huge part of staying ahead of the curve.

11 free release note templates

The way we think about and organize templates fall into four buckets, depending on the type of change and your team’s specific release comms strategy. These four buckets are: Traditional, Time-based, Tiered, and Tactical.

Let’s take a closer look at the templates in each of these buckets, including examples of what each looks like when used:

Traditional release note templates

Very often tried and true is best. If you need to get a release note published quickly and/or don’t have a more holistic release comms strategy in place yet, look no further than a traditional template.

1. The OG

This template represents the most common format of release notes across the internet. It answers five key questions:

  • What’s changed?
  • When did it change?
  • What’s important or valuable about this change?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

What's changed?

H2: Dark mode is now generally available

You asked, and we love to deliver: after three months we’re thrilled to share that dark mode is now out of private beta and available to all users…

When did it change?

H3: Upgrade to version 2.2 for immediate access

We released version 2.2 of the app last weekend. For anyone who doesn't have auto-updates turned on, visit the updates page…

What’s important or valuable about this change?

H3: We’ve packed dark mode with exciting goodies

You may have dark mode enabled in other apps you use, but we guarantee you’ve never seen a dark mode like this. With our new dark mode feature you’ll enjoy:

  • Auto-dimming…
  • Energy saving…

What do I need to do? (optional)

H3: Activate dark mode in seconds

Ready to join the dark side ASAP? We understand! In the ‘Settings’ menu you’ll find a new tab called ‘Appearance’...

How do I learn more or get help?

H3: Visit the resource center for more details

Have additional questions about dark mode? Read the full documentation in our resource center. Also don’t forget to join next week’s AMA with our Head of Product…

Time-based release note templates

All things being equal, we believe a time-based release comms approach is the most efficient and effective way to communicate release comms. As humans are creatures of habit, receiving an update on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis becomes something that teams and customers expect and anticipate, and thus will regularly engage with. It also provides sanity from a planning and preparation standpoint, as a regularly scheduled update will never sneak up on you.

2. Weekly Recap

The Weekly Recap is great for disciplined, high velocity teams that want or need to be consistently communicating and engaging with their customers. We most commonly see it used by companies who are rapidly scaling, competing in very aggressive markets, or have multiple products. 

Weekly recaps answer these five questions:

  • What’s the most significant thing that’s changed this week?
  • What else has changed since last week?
  • What are the most important or valuable things to know about these changes?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

What’s the most significant thing that’s changed this week?

H2: Feature Friday 1/28/22: Dark mode now generally available!

After three months in private beta we’re thrilled to share that dark mode is now generally available for all users…

What else has changed since last week?

H3: Here’s what else went live this week

Since you heard from us last Friday we’ve also shipped:

  • Additional multi language support (French, German, Russian)
  • Google Authenticator support for 2FA
  • Five new API endpoints

What are the most important or valuable things to know about these changes?

H3: Everything you need to know about this week’s changes

  • Additional languages: As we push into new international markets, you’ll see us continue adding more language packs in the months ahead. Because French, German, and Russian were the three highest voted, we started there. To let us know which language you want to see next, click the ‘Leave Feedback’ button to the left and let your voice be heard! 
  • Google Authenticator support: With a growing number of users opting into 2FA, we wanted to ensure we went beyond simply offering SMS 2FA support…
  • New API endpoints: For our growing developer community, we’re thrilled to now offer five new API endpoints…

What do I need to do? (optional)

H3: Get weekly product updates directly in your inbox

If you haven’t already, subscribe to receive weekly product updates directly in your inbox. Hit subscribe above to ensure you’re the first to know about the latest and greatest product improvements. You can even customize the updates you wish to receive…

How do I learn more or get help?

H3: Visit the resource center for more details

As always, our resource center has been updated with additional details, screenshots, and how-tos on everything we’ve shipped this week. If you have any questions, head on over there. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to reach out directly to our Support team 24/7…

3. Monthly Roundup

The Monthly Roundup is perfect for teams who are interested in publishing a single summary of everything that’s recently shipped, but who aren’t ready to commit to publishing updates on a weekly cadence. This template is popular with teams who work in slightly longer dev cycles and/or are committed to building a repeatable release comms process, but who don’t have this process completely dialed in yet.

Monthly roundups answer these five questions:

  • What are the three most significant things that have changed this month?
  • What else has changed since last month?
  • What are the most important or valuable things to know about these changes?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

What are the three most significant things that have changed this month?

H2: January Roundup: Dark mode, Salesforce integration, automation triggers, and more

Happy New Year! After a relaxing Holiday break, the team is roaring into the new year with three big new improvements that we know you’re going to love: Dark mode, a brand new bidirectional Salesforce integration, and a new library of automation triggers that will make your Ops team blush.

As we covered in our last product roadmap webinar, this year we’re going to be laser focused on user experience and efficiency, and January’s updates represent our first big step in this direction…

What else has changed since last month?

H3: 10 additional improvements to get your year kicked off in style

If you thought those three updates were exciting, wait until you see what else the team delivered for you this month:

  • Additional multi language support (French, German, Russian)
  • Google Authenticator support for 2FA
  • Five new API endpoints

What are the most important or valuable things to know about these changes?

H3: A focus on user efficiency and experience

As you know, this year our team is laser focused on user experience and efficiency. Here are just a few data points on how you’re getting more of both of those things with January’s release:

  • Dark mode: Multiple studies have shown that dark mode is easier on the human eye and better for your overall health (especially for those of you who like to work late into the evenings!). Dark mode is just one more way we’re improving your experience in the app while taking care of your whole self every day.
  • Salesforce integration: Our new bidirectional Salesforce integration brings every detail from any active user account directly into your accounts dashboard in real-time, meaning the days of flipping between multiple tabs to ensure all of the information has been properly synced are over.

What do I need to do? (optional)

H3: Get going today

Ready to join the dark side ASAP? We understand! In the ‘Settings’ menu you’ll find a new tab called ‘Appearance’. Hop in there and flip on the ‘Dark mode’ toggle to begin enjoying dark mode today (or tonight!).

Our new Salesforce integration is being rolled out incrementally, with users of our current Salesforce integration being prioritized. Want to jump the line? Drop us a note using the ‘Leave Feedback’ button to the left and we’ll be in touch…

How do I learn more or get help?

H3: Hop into the Community with questions 

Questions or concerns about anything we’ve rolled out this month? As always, our PM team will be live in our Community from 3-5pm PST this week to answer any and all questions, as well as set up 1:1 feedback sessions…

4. Quarterly Digest

The Quarterly Digest is the most traditional of the time-based templates. Prior to the dawn of CI/CD, when software teams often only shipped new updates one or twice a month, a quarterly update was considered the standard communicating cadence for software change. Today it’s still popular with larger Enterprise companies or B2B companies that only make updates on a predefined cadence.

Quarterly digests answer these five questions:

  • What are the three most significant things that have changed this quarter?
  • What else has changed since last quarter?
  • What are the most important or valuable things to know about these changes?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

What are the three most significant things that have changed this quarter?

H2: Q1 Digest: Dark mode, Salesforce integration, automation triggers, and so much more

No quarter is complete without a recap of everything the team has shipped, and Q1 is no exception. With that in mind, let’s dig into three huge improvements we shipped this quarter that we know you’ll love: Dark mode, a brand new bidirectional Salesforce integration, and a new library of automation triggers.

As we covered in our last product roadmap webinar, this year we’re going to be laser focused on user experience and efficiency, and after Q1 we’re off to a great start…

What else has changed since last quarter?

H3: In case you missed them: 10 additional Q1 improvements you’ll love

If you thought those three updates were exciting, wait until you see what else the team delivered for you in Q1:

  • Additional multi language support (French, German, Russian)
  • Google Authenticator support for 2FA
  • Five new API endpoints

What are the most important or valuable things to know about these changes?

H3: Upleveling user experience and efficiency throughout the app

As you know, this year our team is laser focused on user experience and efficiency. Here are just a few data points on how you’re getting more of both of those things with everything we shipped in Q1:

  • Dark mode: Multiple studies have shown that dark mode is easier on the human eye and better for your overall health (especially for those of you who like to work late into the evenings!). Dark mode is just one more way we’re improving your experience in the app while taking care of your whole self every day.
  • Salesforce integration: Our new birectional Salesforce integration brings every detail from any active user account directly into your accounts dashboard in real-time, meaning the days of flipping between multiple tabs to ensure all of the information has been properly synced are over.

What do I need to do? (optional)

H3: Tell us how we did in Q1

As always, our #1 priority is ensuring the app experience is surpassing your expectations. As you continue digging into all of the great improvements shipped in Q1, we encourage you to leave us feedback using the ‘Leave Feedback’ button to the left of this announcement. Rest assured each and every piece of feedback will be reviewed by a PM…

How do I learn more or get help?

H3: Sign up for our quarterly product roadmap webinar

As we do at the end of every quarter, next week we’ll be hosting our quarterly product roadmap webinar. Join our Head of Product as he reviews everything we’ve shipped, as well as what’s on tap for next quarter. Bring your questions as members of our Support team will be answering live questions throughout…

Tiered release note templates

For teams who are looking for an alternative to time-based release comms, and who would rather plan their release comms strategy around specific changes (or groups of changes), product tiering has become the gold standard. It’s especially popular with most modern SaaS companies who deliver software on a much faster, yet oftentimes infrequent, basis. 

While there’s a fair bit of nuance around product tiers, the general structure is as follows:

  • Tier 1 product releases have a major impact on net new users
  • Tier 2 product releases have a major impact on existing users
  • Tier 3 product releases impact existing users, but don't significantly change their user experience

You can read more about how tiering factors into an overall product launch strategy in our Ultimate Launch Plan for Product Marketers. In the meantime, here are some useful tier-based product release note templates:

5. Tier 1 Release

As tier 1 releases are the most significant, and involve the most fanfare, release notes for a tier 1 release will be one key component of a much more comprehensive launch strategy and plan. That said, it’s wise to ensure they aren’t overlooked, as it's these release notes that will undoubtedly get the most residual traffic after the initial splash of your launch.

A tier 1 release note should answer these six questions:

  • What shiny new product or feature are you introducing?
  • What additional new functionality are you introducing alongside it?
  • What are the most important or valuable things to know about this release?
  • What else went live with this release? (optional)
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

What shiny new product or feature are you introducing?

H2: Introducing V2 of the platform

Over the past year the entire working world has been flipped upside down, with one of the most significant changes being that the majority of teams are now remote-first. Against that backdrop, it’s our mission to ensure our platform continues to exceed your expectations in this new world, and in that spirit we’re thrilled to announce an entirely revamped V2 of our platform…

What additional new functionality are you releasing alongside it?

H3: So much to discover: New integrations, workflows, APIs, and more

Our new V2 is absolutely packed with new features and functionality that we know you’re going to love. Here are some of the highlights that we know you’ll be most excited about:

  • Five new chat integrations with all the real-time collaboration tools you know and love
  • Built-in workflow triggers to superchange all the workflows your business has come to rely on
  • A slew of new APIs so that the V2 platform can be extended and customized even further than our V1 
  • A revamped admin experience to put global admins, as well as user admins, firmly in control
  • Dedicated iOS and Android apps so that you’ll never again be out of sync with the work you care about

What are the most important or valuable things to know about this release?

H3: An entirely reimagined experience to meet the needs of a remote-first world

Remote teams need an entirely revamped toolbelt to be productive. Let’s take a deep dive into a few of the new tools we’re adding to your toolbelt in this V2:

  • Five new chat integrations: In a remote-first workplace you no longer have the ability to visit someone at their desk to get a quick question answered. Which is why our V2 comes with brand new integrations with Slack, Teams, Google Hangout…
  • Built-in workflow triggers: Whether you’re an admin or a user, the days of searching for third-party workflow triggers and then copy and pasting them into the product are over. In the V2 of our platform we’ve included a library of over 50 workflow triggers to make custom setup a breeze…
  • 10+ new APIs: The V2 of our platform comes with the largest API library we’ve ever offered, including new endpoints that will allow our developer community to easily push and pull any type of data to and from the platform…

What else went live with this release? (optional)

H3: But that’s not all…

In addition to all of the exciting new features and functionality we’ve already reviewed, we know the devil is always in the details. Which is why we also tackled the top 10 most requested bug fixes in this V2 release. These bug fixes include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Fixing periodic freezing during the auto-import process
  • Increasing the API rate limit on the subscriber API to prevent time-out

What do I need to do? (optional)

H3: Begin the migration today

There are two ways to begin enjoying the V2 platform right away:

  • Opt yourself in by going to ‘Settings’ → ‘Update’ and using the auto migration experience
  • Contact your CSM to set up a 1:1 session in which they’ll provide you with a white glove migration experience and answer any questions you may have…

How do I learn more or get help?

H3: Visit our ‘V2 Getting Started’ guide for more information

Similar to past tier 1 releases, we’ve created a full Getting Started Guide to help you learn more and get the most out of the new V2 experience. Videos, how-tos, a full Q&A… you name it, you’ll find it there! To dive into our new Getting Started Guide, head on over to…

6. Tier 2 Release

A tier 2 release is often when release notes can be of greatest value to teams. Tier 2 improvements are things that your current customers are going to get most excited about (and the most value out of), but often don’t rise to the level of a game-changing new feature that deserves coverage on the blog, a press release, and so on. With that in mind, the information provided in a Tier 2 Release Template becomes the main destination for all launch comms.

A tier 2 release note should answer these six questions:

  • What new feature or functionality are you introducing?
  • What additional new functionality are you introducing alongside it? (optional)
  • What are the most important or valuable things to know about this release?
  • What else went live during this release?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

What new feature or functionality are you introducing?

H2: The bidirectional Salesforce integration is here

From the moment we released V1 of our Salesforce integration, you told us that for it to be of maximum value it needed to both push and pull information, and do so automatically. Today, we’re thrilled to announce a brand new bidirectional Salesforce integration that features a two-way sync, one-click setup…

What additional new functionality are you introducing alongside it? (optional)

H3: And that's not the only integration we improved

While the team was working on V2 of our new Salesforce integration, they also took a pass at improving a few other key integrations you love. Here are the highlights:

  • Tableau integration: Enjoy three new ways to visualize Tableau data on your system dashboard
  • Jira integration: You can now turn new feedback items into Jira tickets without ever leaving the app

What are the most important or valuable things to know about this release?

H3: A first-class integration experience from end to end

As we remain laser focused on user experience and efficiency this year, our upgraded integration experience is just one more way we’re ensuring you’re getting the absolute most of the platform each and every time you log in.

Let’s take a look at how, beginning with the new Salesforce integration:

  • Set up the new integration in seconds, no API key required
  • Auto-syncing keeps data in both products up-to-date at all times

What else went live during this release?

H3: But that’s not all…

In addition to exciting integration upgrades across the board, we also tackled the top three bugs as a part of this update. These bug fixes include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Fixing periodic freezing during the auto-import process
  • Increasing the API rate limit on the subscriber API to prevent time-out

What do I need to do? (optional)

H3: What are you waiting for?

As of last Friday our new Salesforce integration, as well as every other upgrade to our integration library, is live! If you’re not seeing any changes, please log out and then log back in. If you’ve read about an integration that you don’t have yet, head over to the ‘Settings’ menu and open the ‘Integrations’ tab...

How do I learn more or get help?

H3: Hop into the Community with questions

Have questions or concerns about any integration? As always, head over to the Community and jump into the ‘Integrations’ channel. If you drop your questions there, a member of the DevRel team will get back with you ASAP…

7. Tier 3 Release

Even for teams who aren’t communicating about updates on a time-based schedule, tier 3 updates are going to be the most common and therefore the Tier 3 Release Template will undoubtedly get the most use–likely even weekly–if your team chooses to adopt a tier-based release approach. As tier 3 improvements focus on things that are only relevant to current users, and can include changes as small as a button being moved, by design this template is short and punchy.

A tier 3 release note should answer these five questions:

  • What’s changed?
  • When did it change?
  • What’s important or valuable about this change?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

What’s changed?

H2: Announcing three new automation triggers

Since we know automation is one of the most valuable features in the app, we’re excited to further improve the power of this offering with three new workflow triggers…

When did it change?

H3: Rolling out this week

All three workflow triggers are already live for our beta testers, and will be progressively rolled out to all accounts over the next three days…

What’s important or valuable about this change?

H3: Supercharge automation even further

With workflow automation, we’ve provided an instant way for you to automate the most repetitive aspects of your job. Workflow triggers add another layer of power into the automation platform, unlocking the ability to set simple “if this, then that” rules…

What do I need to do? (optional)

H3: Available on all paid plans

Our workflow trigger library is available on all paid plans. If you’re on a free plan, upgrade today to take advantage of these three new workflow triggers, as well as the entire library…

How do I learn more or get help?

H3: Visit the resource center for more details

We’ve updated the workflow automation section of our resource center with additional details, screenshots, and how-tos. Head on over…

Tactical release note templates

While tiered and time-based templating are the two most popular forms of release comms we see utilized across most SaaS companies these days, our template library wouldn't be complete without a few tactical release note templates to be used strategically in very specific circumstances. And while these templates may be used more sparingly, they bring enormous value and benefit when correctly utilized.

8. Bug Fix

Bugs are an inevitable part of building software. Your ability to resolve them quickly and transparently is a key indicator of how qualified and capable your team is. It’s wise to ensure that your release comms strategy and incident response processes are in lock step when dealing with bugs. Remember that communicating regularly and consistently about what’s been fixed, and when, is one of the fastest ways to build and maintain trust with your users.

A bug fix release note should answer these five questions:

  • What was fixed?
  • When did it break and who was impacted?
  • How does this fix directly impact me?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

Coming soon...

9. Sneak Peek

Perhaps the most risqué of all release note templates is the sneak peek, as it gives users a glimpse of work that’s not quite finished and/or still in development. While every organization has a different stance on how comfortable they are sharing a future state of the product, from what we’ve seen teams who are willing to provide a teaser every now and then not only build a stronger bond with their users, but also drive higher product engagement.

To provide a compelling sneak peek, your update should answer the following five questions:

  • What’s being worked on?
  • How far along is it?
  • What’s the most valuable or exciting aspect of this work?
  • Where can I sign up to be a beta tester (and/or be the first to know when it’s live)?
  • When are you anticipating completion? (optional)


Example:

Coming soon...

10. Follow-up

One of the least used, yet most valuable, release notes is a follow-up. Whether you’re rolling out bug fixes for a new feature you just shipped, finally doing that “polish” pass you promised you’d take care of, or simply reminding the world of something important you’re afraid they might have missed, the follow-up template should not be overlooked as a strategic component of every release comms strategy.

An impactful follow-up should answer these five questions:

  • What are you reminding users of or updating them on?
  • What, if anything, has changed since you last made an announcement about this topic?
  • What’s the most important or valuable thing on this topic that’s important to reiterate?
  • What do I need to do? (optional)
  • How do I learn more or get help?


Example:

Coming soon...

11. Deprecation

Similar to dealing with bugs, deprecating features and functionality is another inevitable part of building and maintaining software products. Deprecations are particularly tricky, as there is rarely an instance in which removing features or functionality doesn’t impact users. For that reason, ensuring you have a release comms strategy to effectively communicate what’s being removed when is vital to maintaining the overall health and happiness of your customer base. For a deeper dive on how Slack handles feature deprecations at scale, check out our interview with Taylor Singletary, Slack's Director of Developer Relations Education.

Feature deprecation release notes answer six important questions:

  • What’s changing?
  • What isn’t changing? (optional)
  • Am I impacted?
  • How do I prepare?
  • What if I do nothing?
  • When does this happen?


Example:

Coming soon...

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