HTML theming support

New in version 0.6.


This document provides information about creating your own theme. If you simply wish to use a pre-existing HTML themes, refer to HTML.

Sphinx supports changing the appearance of its HTML output via themes. A theme is a collection of HTML templates, stylesheet(s) and other static files. Additionally, it has a configuration file which specifies from which theme to inherit, which highlighting style to use, and what options exist for customizing the theme’s look and feel.

Themes are meant to be project-unaware, so they can be used for different projects without change.

Creating themes

Themes take the form of either a directory or a zipfile (whose name is the theme name), containing the following:

  • A theme.conf file.
  • HTML templates, if needed.
  • A static/ directory containing any static files that will be copied to the output static directory on build. These can be images, styles, script files.

The theme.conf file is in INI format [1] (readable by the standard Python ConfigParser module) and has the following structure:

inherit = base theme
stylesheet = main CSS name
pygments_style = stylename
sidebars = localtoc.html, relations.html, sourcelink.html, searchbox.html

variable = default value
  • The inherit setting gives the name of a “base theme”, or none. The base theme will be used to locate missing templates (most themes will not have to supply most templates if they use basic as the base theme), its options will be inherited, and all of its static files will be used as well.
  • The stylesheet setting gives the name of a CSS file which will be referenced in the HTML header. If you need more than one CSS file, either include one from the other via CSS’ @import, or use a custom HTML template that adds <link rel="stylesheet"> tags as necessary. Setting the html_style config value will override this setting.
  • The pygments_style setting gives the name of a Pygments style to use for highlighting. This can be overridden by the user in the pygments_style config value.
  • The sidebars setting gives the comma separated list of sidebar templates for constructing sidebars. This can be overridden by the user in the html_sidebars config value.
  • The options section contains pairs of variable names and default values. These options can be overridden by the user in html_theme_options and are accessible from all templates as theme_<name>.

New in version 1.7: sidebar settings

Distribute your theme as a Python package

As a way to distribute your theme, you can use Python package. Python package brings to users easy setting up ways.

To distribute your theme as a Python package, please define an entry point called sphinx.html_themes in your file, and write a setup() function to register your themes using add_html_theme() API in it:

# ''
    entry_points = {
        'sphinx.html_themes': [
            'name_of_theme = your_package',

# ''
from os import path

def setup(app):
    app.add_html_theme('name_of_theme', path.abspath(path.dirname(__file__)))

If your theme package contains two or more themes, please call add_html_theme() twice or more.

New in version 1.2: ‘sphinx_themes’ entry_points feature.

Deprecated since version 1.6: sphinx_themes entry_points has been deprecated.

New in version 1.6: sphinx.html_themes entry_points feature.


The guide to templating is helpful if you want to write your own templates. What is important to keep in mind is the order in which Sphinx searches for templates:

  • First, in the user’s templates_path directories.
  • Then, in the selected theme.
  • Then, in its base theme, its base’s base theme, etc.

When extending a template in the base theme with the same name, use the theme name as an explicit directory: {% extends "basic/layout.html" %}. From a user templates_path template, you can still use the “exclamation mark” syntax as described in the templating document.

Static templates

Since theme options are meant for the user to configure a theme more easily, without having to write a custom stylesheet, it is necessary to be able to template static files as well as HTML files. Therefore, Sphinx supports so-called “static templates”, like this:

If the name of a file in the static/ directory of a theme (or in the user’s static path, for that matter) ends with _t, it will be processed by the template engine. The _t will be left from the final file name. For example, the classic theme has a file static/classic.css_t which uses templating to put the color options into the stylesheet. When a documentation is built with the classic theme, the output directory will contain a _static/classic.css file where all template tags have been processed.

[1]It is not an executable Python file, as opposed to, because that would pose an unnecessary security risk if themes are shared.