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This repository is in maintenance mode and only accepting fixes. The Tech Portfolio and TTS Digital Council are working on a strategy for TTS microsites which will inform the future of this theme. Open an issue to provide any feedback.

Jekyll + U.S. Web Design System

This is a Jekyll theme for the U.S. Web Design System.

Table of contents

  1. Installation
  2. Configuration
  3. Assets
  4. Customization
  5. Components
  6. Layouts
  7. Migration guide
  8. Development


  1. Install the theme as a Ruby Gem by adding it to your Gemfile like so:

    gem 'uswds-jekyll'
  2. Fetch and update your bundled gems by running:

  3. Set the theme in your site's Jekyll configuration, _config.yml:

    theme: uswds-jekyll

You will need to restart your Jekyll server to see the effects.

Install as a new Jekyll site

  1. Create a new Jekyll site:

    jekyll new
  2. Replace the default gem "minima", "~> 2.0" gem with the uswds-jekyll gem in your Gemfile:

    gem 'uswds-jekyll'
  3. Set the theme in your site's Jekyll configuration, _config.yml:

    theme: uswds-jekyll
  4. Fetch and update your bundled gems by running:

  5. Run bundle exec jekyll serve to build your site locally at http://localhost:4000/


To reference a specific version of this theme:

  1. Visit the releases page and decide which version you want to use.

  2. Specify the version in your Gemfile.

    gem 'uswds-jekyll', '~> 5.0'


Configuration of common elements (header, identifier, navigation, etc.) happens in your project's data files. See this project's data directory for reference configurations of each component.

The default layout also provides a mechanism for automatically including stylesheets and scripts on a site-wide, layout-wide, and per-page basis. See asset load order for more information.

Site title

You can change your site's title with the title field in _config.yml. If you want to provide an alternate title for use only in the site header, you can set the title field in _data/header.yml.

Site description

You can change your site's description with the description field in _config.yml. If you want to override it for a particular page, you can set the description field in that page's frontmatter.


This theme's navigation system is powerful and flexible. Named navigational lists live in your project's _data/navigation.yml.

By default all links are assumed to be internal to the site. You can add external: true to links that are external. You can also add class: class-name to add a class to a specific link.

# _data/navigation.yml

  - text: Documentation
    href: /docs/
  - text: Support
    href: /help/
    class: highlight
  - text: "18F"
    external: true

  # link objects with a 'links' field will be presented as
  # collapsible link lists. The 'links' field can either be
  # a reference to another link list in this file, or
  # a literal list.

  - text: Section title
    links: <links>

This scheme allows you to define navigational elements that can be shared by different components, such as the header and sidenav. See the documentation for those components for more info.

Page title

Set each page's title in its frontmatter:

title: About us

Page subnavigation

If you're using the page layout, each page may declare its own side navigation and subnavigation in its front matter:

sidenav: documentation
  - text: Section one
    href: '#section-one'
  - text: Section two
    href: '#section-two

## Section one

## Section two

As with the header, the sidenav field may either reference a common navigation list from _data/navigation.yml (recommended) or be a literal list of links.

The subnav field should be used to link to sections within the current page, because links to other pages will cause the linking page's side navigation to collapse when visited.

sidenav is a key into _data/navigation.yml. See the navigation docs for more info.

A page's "current" or "active" state in the sidenav is determined by whether a link's href matches page.url or page.permalink for each page being rendered.

subnav is a list of links to display on this page under its own link in the side navigation.

Note that subnav link hrefs are not prefixed with site.baseurl because this breaks hash links prefixed with #.

Pro tip: Unless your Jekyll configuration specifies otherwise, the default Markdown formatter (Kramdown) will automatically generate predictable id attributes for your page headings and convert markdown like this:

## Section one


<h2 id="section-one">Section one</h2>

If you're using Redcarpet, you will need to configure it to enable the with_toc_data extension in your _config.yml, like so:

markdown: redcarpet
    - with_toc_data

Pro tip: If you're like us and prefer your navigation sticky, you can add sticky_sidenav: true on page, project, and team member layouts to have the sidenav follow as you scroll.


hero: # optional
  image: /path/to/image.jpg # optional
    alt: Callout white text! # optional
    text: The rest of the callout
  button: # optional
    text: The button text
    href: /button-href/

Tagline intro

# optional, but must be used in conjunction with 'intro', below
tagline: A tagline for your page
# also optional, but must be used with 'tagline', above
intro: |
  Some introductory text content.

  This will be processed as **Markdown**.

Graphics list

# an optional list of graphics to display before or after the content
  - image:
      # note the indentation here: graphics[n].image.src
      src: /path/to/image.ext
      alt: optional alt text
    title: Optional graphic title, rendered as an <h3>
    description: Graphic description text, processed as _Markdown_.

# optional
graphics_position: (before|after)

Color configuration

The default colors can be configured in the _data/theme.yml file. Other settings can be configured using USWDS theme settings. (See the customization section, below.)

Search is used for search and can be configured in _config.yml.

Before configuring your search you will need to create a account and set up your website with

After setting up your site on you can then add your search_site_handle to the config.yml.


Google Analytics

You can add Google Analytics to your site by uncommenting the google_analytics_ua line and replacing UA-????????-?? with your Google analytics UA code.

# Configuration for Google Analytics, add your UA code here:
# google_analytics_ua: UA-????????-??

Digital Analytics Program (DAP)

You can add DAP to your site by uncommenting the dap_agency line and, if need be, replacing GSA with the appropriate agency key. And optionally, dap_subagency may also be specified. For more information visit

# Configuration for DAP, add your agency ID here:
# dap_agency: GSA
# dap_subagency: TTS

Feedback form

To add a user feedback form, create a new survey through Touchpoints and add the ID via the touchpoints_form_id key in _config.yml.

Last modified date

To show the last date a page was last modified by:

  1. Add these lines to the edit-page.yml data file:

      display_date: true
      date_format: '%B %d, %Y'
  2. Add the following to your Gemfile:

    group :jekyll_plugins do
      gem "jekyll-last-modified-at"

This will add the date right before the identifier component.

Edit page

To add a link which will allow visitors to submit edits to the current page via GitHub, add the following lines to to the edit-page.yml data file:

  display_link: true
  text: "Edit this page"

This will add the edit link right before the identifier component.

Anchor JS

You can show an anchor link next to header tags by uncommenting this section from the _config.yml data file. This will add an anchor link after the header tag on the page and post layouts making each header linkable. See for more information.

# anchor_js_targets: [h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6]

Private Eye JS

By default, the USWDS Jekyll theme uses Private Eye to denote private links. You can turn this on by adding the setting below in your _config.yml. If you would like to customize the default Private Eye configuration, you can find it in /assets/js/private_eye_conf.js.

private_eye: true


The stylesheet and script includes each incorporate the USWDS CSS and JS files if the corresponding styles and scripts lists aren't defined in your _config.yml. So unless you add one or both of those manually, your HTML will include the following:

<!-- in the <head> -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/assets/uswds/css/uswds.min.css" media="screen">
<!-- before </body> -->
<script src="/assets/uswds/js/uswds.min.js" async>

Read more about customizing stylesheets and scripts below.


As a general rule, all stylesheets are inserted in a layouts' <head>, which qualifies them as "render-blocking". Site stylesheets can be specified in _config.yml or a layout or page's front matter YAML in the following form:

  - /path/to/sheet.css
  - href: /path/to/sheet.css
    media: (screen|print|all) # optional

Stylesheets specified as objects (in the latter item above) must have an href property. The media defaults to screen.


As a general rule, all scripts are inserted before a layouts' </body>, which prevents them from blocking the rendering of your page's content. Scripts can be specified in _config.yml or a layout or page's front matter YAML in the following form:

  - /path/to/script.js
  - src: /path/to/script.js
    async: true # optional

Scripts specified as objects (in the latter item above) must have a src property. Scripts with async: true will get an async attribute, which tells the browser not to let this script's loading block the execution of subsequent scripts. If the execution order of your scripts is not important, setting async: true may provide performance benefits to your users. (Conversely, if you don't know whether your scripts need to execute in a particular order, then you should not set async: true because it may prevent your scripts from running properly.)

Asset load order

Both stylesheets and scripts can be configured

  1. Assets configured at the site level (in your _config.yml) will be loaded in all pages that use the USWDS layouts.
  2. Those configured at the layout level (in that layout's front matter) will be loaded on all pages that use that layout, after site assets.
  3. Those configured at the page level (in the page's front matter) will be loaded last.


Customize the USWDS Jekyll theme with USWDS theme settings files, USWDS design tokens, and custom Sass or CSS. You'll need to place USWDS settings and custom Sass into a couple specific locations for the theme to find them.

  1. Settings: Add custom USWDS settings to _sass/_uswds-theme-settings.scss. Settings control the USWDS output. See all available settings in the USWDS settings documentation. We recommend adding only your modified settings to the _uswds-theme-settings.scss file.

    To see an example of all the settings available to USWDS, see the files in the USWDS GitHub repo. The repo splits settings into multiple files. If you want to copy and mimic that structure, download the repo files using a tool like DownGit. Then add them to the _sass/ directory and @import them from _uswds-theme-settings.scss.

    Whether you add only individual settings variables or import from multiple files, _uswds-theme-settings.scss needs to be the entry point.

  2. Custom Sass and variables: Add any custom CSS or Sass to _sass/_uswds-theme-custom-styles.scss. You can use this custom styles file to @import any additional Sass or CSS files your project needs, as long as any additional files exist in the /_sass directory.

    Custom Sass loads after the USWDS and default Sass, so you can use it to override the defaults. Individual sites can also selectively override individual includes and layouts.

Overriding includes and layouts

Any include or layout can be overridden by your site by placing a file with the same name into your site's _includes or _layouts directory. For instance:

  • You can change how the side navigation is rendered (but not which data it receives) in the page layout by creating your own _includes/sidenav.html.

  • You can change how and whether the side navigation is displayed at all in the page layout by overriding _layouts/page.html.


For some USWDS components, there are two different files that control how data is passed to the template:

  1. components/{component}.html is the low-level template that assumes a similarly named global template variable. For instance, the header component operates on the header template variable.
  2. {component}.html is the "concrete" implementation of the component that sets the appropriate global variable then includes the low-level template.

This separation allows you to override either of the component includes in your own Jekyll site without having to re-implement either the high- or low-level logic. For instance, if you want your header data to come directly from the Jekyll configuration file (_config.yml) rather than _data/header.yml, you can override _includes/header.html to look like this:

{% assign header = %} {% include components/header--basic.html


The header.html include sets the header template variable to, the value of which is set in your Jekyll project's _data/header.yml file. Then it includes components/header.html to render the header's markup.

See this repo's header.yml for more info.


The components/identifier.html include sets the identifier template variable to, the value of which is set in your Jekyll project's _data/identifier.yml file. See this repo's identifier.yml for more info.


This theme provides the following layouts, which you can use by setting the layout front matter on each page, like so:

layout: name

Supported (optional) front matter for page layouts.

layout: default

This is the bare-bones USWDS layout, which does all of the basic page scaffolding then drops the page content into the <main> element. All of the other layouts "inherit" this one and provide other features in the content block.

The default layout provides a layout front matter hook to add attributes to the <main> element. You can see how this works in the page layout.

layout: home

This layout implements the home page template, which accommodates the following front matter:

Check out the YAML front matter in the home demo page for an example of how to structure it.

layout: page

This layout implements the document page template.

See the page demo page for an example of how this works, and see _data/navigation.yml for how to structure named navigation data for your site.

layout: post

This layout is identical to the layout page and is included to allow for easier site creation using Jekyll new.

layout: project

This layout is used to show details for an individual project and uses the following front matter.

layout: project
title: Title of project
permalink: /projects/link-to-project/
description: Project description.
large_image: /path/to/image.ext
small_image: /path/to/image.ext
image_alt: The image alt text

To show a listing of projects on a page add {% include project-list.html %} to the page

layout: team-member

This layout is used to show details for an individual team member and uses the following front matter.

layout: team-member
permalink: /team/link-to-team-member/
name: Team member name
image: /path/to/image.ext
job_title: Team member job title
phone: 123-456-7890

To show a listing of team members on a page add {% include team-list.html %} to the page


See this example pull request.

From earlier versions

Note: uswds-jekyll 5.x is only compatible with Jekyll 4.0 and higher.

  1. Update your uswds-jekyll gem in your project's Gemfile. Replace the current gem 'uswds-jekyll' line with:

    gem 'uswds-jekyll', '~> 5.0'

    Then, in the terminal, run

    bundle update uswds-jekyll
  2. If you have an existing _sass folder, it needs to move to the root level, and out of any directory like /assets.

  3. Add or move any custom styles or variables to /_sass/_uswds-theme-custom-styles.scss.

    If you have multiple custom styles files, add them to the /_sass directory and @import them from _uswds-theme-custom-styles.scss.

  4. Convert manual values to tokenized values using the guidance on the USWDS migration page.

  5. Don't duplicate the h1 in the body content of page template pages. (This is automatically inserted at the top with the content of page.title.)

  6. Check that certain data keys exist

    --> config.yml
      [nothing unless adding additional stylesheets]
    --> header.yml
    type: [basic | basic-mega | extended | extended-mega]
    --> theme.yml (examples)
        usa-banner-bg: 'base-lightest'
        usa-banner-text: 'ink'
        usa-banner-link: 'primary-dark'
        usa-banner-link-hover: 'primary-darker'
        header-bg: 'white'
        header-title: 'ink'
        header-link: 'base'
        header-link-hover: 'primary-dark'
        bg-color: 'primary-darker'
        header-color: 'accent-cool'
        text-color: 'white'
        link-color: 'base-lightest'
        link-hover-color: 'white'
        hero-bg: 'primary-darker'
        hero-header: 'accent-cool'
        hero-header-alt: 'white'
        hero-text: 'white'
        hero-link: 'accent-cool'
        hero-button-bg: 'primary'
        hero-button-text: 'white'
        top-nav-bg: 'white'
        top-nav-link: 'base-dark'
        top-nav-link-hover: 'primary'
        top-nav-link-hover-bg: 'white'
        top-nav-link-current: 'base-dark'
        top-nav-dropdown-bg: 'primary-dark'
        top-nav-dropdown-link: 'white'
        top-nav-dropdown-link-hover-bg: 'transparent'
        side-nav-bg: 'transparent'
        side-nav-link: 'ink'
        side-nav-link-hover: 'primary-dark'
        side-nav-link-hover-bg: 'base-lightest'
        side-nav-link-current: 'primary-dark'
  7. Check that css is referencing uswds-theme.css


This section explains how to develop this theme and/or test it locally.



Install the Node.js dependencies.

$ npm install

Install Ruby dependencies.

$ npm run setup-jekyll

Start the application. This allows you to preview the effects of your changes. Jekyll will build the site, watch the Sass files, and rebuild when there are changes.

$ npm start

Open your web browser to localhost:4000.

To update USWDS

When new version of USWDS is released, you should pull in the latest assets.

$ rake update

Review and commit the assets.

Working with a Jekyll site

If you want to test an existing Jekyll site that uses uswds-jekyll, you can link the gem to your local uswds-jekyll repo.

In your Jekyll site, change your Gemfile to point at the local clone of this repo.

gem 'uswds-jekyll', :path => '../path/to/uswds-jekyll'

Publish to Rubygems

  1. Update spec.version = "NUMBER HERE" in the uswds-jekyll.gemspec file to the version you want to publish
  2. Run bundle install
  3. Add a PR for the update and get it merged
  4. Run bundle exec rake release
  5. Add a GitHub release to the releases page with the same version number
  6. You should see the latest version here


  • start: Starts the jekyll site
  • setup-uswds: Copies assets from the USWDS package to their theme locations, by running the following scripts, which can also be run separately:
    • sync-assets: Copies assets to assets/uswds
    • sync-sass: Copies Sass source files to _sass/uswds/src/
    • sync-default-settings: Copies default settings files to _sass/uswds/settings
    • sync-theme-settings: Copies only theme settings files to _sass/settings