Our commit messages for Mercurial get automatically distilled into GNU Changelog entries. The GNU coding standards have [http://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/Style-of-Change-Logs.html some guidelines] for how to write Changelogs, and since Octave is a GNU project, we try to produce Changelogs in this style. However, certain things have to be adapted because the style in there is primarily for C sources, and because we are producing them from Mercurial commit messages.
You can see how Mercurial will produce the Changelog-style output with the following command:
hg log --style changelog