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Updated: July 2014

git-check-ref-format (1)


git-check-ref-format - Ensures that a reference name is well formed


git check-ref-format [--normalize]
[--[no-]allow-onelevel] [--refspec-pattern]
git check-ref-format --branch <branchname-shorthand>


Git Manual                                   GIT-CHECK-REF-FOR(1)

     git-check-ref-format - Ensures that a reference name is well

     git check-ref-format [--normalize]
            [--[no-]allow-onelevel] [--refspec-pattern]
     git check-ref-format --branch <branchname-shorthand>

     Checks if a given refname is acceptable, and exits with a
     non-zero status if it is not.

     A reference is used in git to specify branches and tags. A
     branch head is stored in the refs/heads hierarchy, while a
     tag is stored in the refs/tags hierarchy of the ref
     namespace (typically in $GIT_DIR/refs/heads and
     $GIT_DIR/refs/tags directories or, as entries in file
     $GIT_DIR/packed-refs if refs are packed by git gc).

     git imposes the following rules on how references are named:

      1. They can include slash / for hierarchical (directory)
         grouping, but no slash-separated component can begin
         with a dot .  or end with the sequence .lock.

      2. They must contain at least one /. This enforces the
         presence of a category like heads/, tags/ etc. but the
         actual names are not restricted. If the --allow-onelevel
         option is used, this rule is waived.

      3. They cannot have two consecutive dots ..  anywhere.

      4. They cannot have ASCII control characters (i.e. bytes
         whose values are lower than \040, or \177 DEL), space,
         tilde ~, caret ^, or colon : anywhere.

      5. They cannot have question-mark ?, asterisk *, or open
         bracket [ anywhere. See the --refspec-pattern option
         below for an exception to this rule.

      6. They cannot begin or end with a slash / or contain
         multiple consecutive slashes (see the --normalize option
         below for an exception to this rule)

      7. They cannot end with a dot ..

      8. They cannot contain a sequence @{.

      9. They cannot contain a \.

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Git Manual                                   GIT-CHECK-REF-FOR(1)

     These rules make it easy for shell script based tools to
     parse reference names, pathname expansion by the shell when
     a reference name is used unquoted (by mistake), and also
     avoids ambiguities in certain reference name expressions
     (see gitrevisions(5)):

      1. A double-dot ..  is often used as in ref1..ref2, and in
         some contexts this notation means ^ref1 ref2 (i.e. not
         in ref1 and in ref2).

      2. A tilde ~ and caret ^ are used to introduce the postfix
         nth parent and peel onion operation.

      3. A colon : is used as in srcref:dstref to mean "use
         srcref's value and store it in dstref" in fetch and push
         operations. It may also be used to select a specific
         object such as with git cat-file: "git cat-file blob

      4. at-open-brace @{ is used as a notation to access a
         reflog entry.

     With the --branch option, it expands the "previous branch
     syntax" @{-n}. For example, @{-1} is a way to refer the last
     branch you were on. This option should be used by porcelains
     to accept this syntax anywhere a branch name is expected, so
     they can act as if you typed the branch name.

     --allow-onelevel, --no-allow-onelevel
         Controls whether one-level refnames are accepted (i.e.,
         refnames that do not contain multiple /-separated
         components). The default is --no-allow-onelevel.

         Interpret <refname> as a reference name pattern for a
         refspec (as used with remote repositories). If this
         option is enabled, <refname> is allowed to contain a
         single * in place of a one full pathname component
         (e.g., foo/*/bar but not foo/bar*).

         Normalize refname by removing any leading slash (/)
         characters and collapsing runs of adjacent slashes
         between name components into a single slash. Iff the
         normalized refname is valid then print it to standard
         output and exit with a status of 0. (--print is a
         deprecated way to spell --normalize.)

     o   Print the name of the previous branch:

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Git Manual                                   GIT-CHECK-REF-FOR(1)

             $ git check-ref-format --branch @{-1}

     o   Determine the reference name to use for a new branch:

             $ ref=$(git check-ref-format --normalize "refs/heads/$newbranch") ||
             die "we do not like '$newbranch' as a branch name."

     Part of the git(1) suite

     See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following

     |Availability   | developer/versioning/git |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted              |
     This software was built from source available at  The original
     community source was downloaded from  http://git-

     Further information about this software can be found on the
     open source community website at

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