How to Make A Pull Request on GitHub

Hongtao Hao / 2020-10-05

I learned how to contribute via making a pull request from the contributing guidance by Victorial Drake .

Step1: Fork a repo #

Reference: Fork a repo from GitHub Docs

Forking the original repository #

Simply fork the project you would like to work on. For example, I forked Professor YY’s covid19-data . Here is what the fork looks like.

Making a local clone of your fork #

In Terminal, first navigate to the directory where you want to place this local clone. In my example, I’ll put it on my Desktop. Then, git clone your fork.

cd Desktop
git clone

Syncing your fork with the original repository #

The original repository is also called the upstream repository.

First, change directories to the location of your fork. Continuing with the above code, I’ll type:

cd covid19-data

Before adding the upstream URL, let’s first check the current configured remote repository for our fork1:

$ git remote -v
# It gives me the following results
> origin (fetch)
> origin (push)

Go to the upstream repository, copy its HTTPS location (in my case, it is, and

git remote add upstream

Now type git remote -v again, and you’ll see the change:

$ git remote -v 
> origin (fetch)
> origin (push)
> upstream (fetch)
> upstream (push)

Step2: Make changes to your fork #

After making changes to the local clone, you can push the changes to your fork.

# First change directory to your local clone
git add .
git commit -m "Description of your changes here."
git push

Then, I can see changes in my fork .

Step3: Creating a pull request from your fork #

See details here .

What to do before sending your pull request #

Victorial Drake suggests opening an issue telling people what changes you are going to make before sending the pull request. This is because if others don’t think your changes are necessary, then you don’t need to send it in the first place.

Updating: #

When you are woking on your fork and find that it is several commits behind the original repo, please refer to GitHub’s offiical guide to sync your fork with the original. Please note that it uses main but more often than not, it probably should be origin. Check your upstream to make sure.

When git asks you to explain how this merge is necessary, please follow thise steps .

Don’t click “Fetch upstream” on github, as this will complicate things. If you click it, your remote will be ahead of your local repo and you have to run git pull before git push.

Follow the steps below instead.

I tried GitHub’s offiical guide but it seemed to complicate things. From this post , I learned that only two steps suffice:

git pull upstream master
git push origin master

I tried and these two lines did do the job.

git pull upstream master will automatically merge your local repo with the upstream. When git asks you to explain how this merge is necessary, please follow these steps .

git push origin master will push the changes in your local repo to your remote repo.

  1. Please note that $ and > are for demonstration only and you aren’t supposed to type them in your Terminal. $ is followed by what you want to type in Terminal, and > is followed by the results from Terminal. ↩︎

Last modified on 2021-10-05