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Sphinx Bootstrap Theme

This Sphinx theme integrates the Bootstrap CSS / JavaScript framework with various layout options, hierarchical menu navigation, and mobile-friendly responsive design. It is configurable, extensible, and can use any number of different Bootswatch CSS themes.

Introduction and Demos

The theme is introduced and discussed in the following posts:

Examples of the theme in use for some public projects:

The theme demo website also includes an examples page for some useful illustrations of getting Sphinx to play nicely with Bootstrap (also take a look at the examples source for the underlying reStructuredText).


Installation from PyPI is fairly straightforward:

  1. Install the package:

    $ pip install sphinx_bootstrap_theme
  2. Edit the "" configuration file to point to the bootstrap theme:

    # At the top.
    import sphinx_bootstrap_theme
    # ...
    # Activate the theme.
    html_theme = 'bootstrap'
    html_theme_path = sphinx_bootstrap_theme.get_html_theme_path()


The theme can be customized in varying ways (some a little more work than others).

Theme Options

The theme provides many built-in options that can be configured by editing your "" file:

# (Optional) Logo. Should be small enough to fit the navbar (ideally 24x24).
# Path should be relative to the ``_static`` files directory.
html_logo = "my_logo.png"

# Theme options are theme-specific and customize the look and feel of a
# theme further.
html_theme_options = {
    # Navigation bar title. (Default: ``project`` value)
    'navbar_title': "Demo",

    # Tab name for entire site. (Default: "Site")
    'navbar_site_name': "Site",

    # A list of tuples containing pages or urls to link to.
    # Valid tuples should be in the following forms:
    #    (name, page)                 # a link to a page
    #    (name, "/aa/bb", 1)          # a link to an arbitrary relative url
    #    (name, "", True) # arbitrary absolute url
    # Note the "1" or "True" value above as the third argument to indicate
    # an arbitrary url.
    'navbar_links': [
        ("Examples", "examples"),
        ("Link", "", True),

    # Render the next and previous page links in navbar. (Default: true)
    'navbar_sidebarrel': True,

    # Render the current pages TOC in the navbar. (Default: true)
    'navbar_pagenav': True,

    # Tab name for the current pages TOC. (Default: "Page")
    'navbar_pagenav_name': "Page",

    # Global TOC depth for "site" navbar tab. (Default: 1)
    # Switching to -1 shows all levels.
    'globaltoc_depth': 2,

    # Include hidden TOCs in Site navbar?
    # Note: If this is "false", you cannot have mixed ``:hidden:`` and
    # non-hidden ``toctree`` directives in the same page, or else the build
    # will break.
    # Values: "true" (default) or "false"
    'globaltoc_includehidden': "true",

    # HTML navbar class (Default: "navbar") to attach to <div> element.
    # For black navbar, do "navbar navbar-inverse"
    'navbar_class': "navbar navbar-inverse",

    # Fix navigation bar to top of page?
    # Values: "true" (default) or "false"
    'navbar_fixed_top': "true",

    # Location of link to source.
    # Options are "nav" (default), "footer" or anything else to exclude.
    'source_link_position': "nav",

    # Bootswatch ( theme.
    # Options are nothing (default) or the name of a valid theme
    # such as "cosmo" or "sandstone".
    # The set of valid themes depend on the version of Bootstrap
    # that's used (the next config option).
    # Currently, the supported themes are:
    # - Bootstrap 2:
    # - Bootstrap 3:
    'bootswatch_theme': "united",

    # Choose Bootstrap version.
    # Values: "3" (default) or "2" (in quotes)
    'bootstrap_version': "3",

Note for the navigation bar title that if you don't specify a theme option of navbar_title that the "" project string will be used. We don't use the html_title or html_short_title values because by default those both contain version strings, which the navigation bar treats differently.

Bootstrap Versions

The theme supports Bootstrap v2.3.2 and v3.3.7 via the bootstrap_version theme option (of "2" or "3"). Some notes regarding version differences:

  • Bootstrap 3 has dropped support for sub-menus, so while supported by this theme, they will not show up in site or page menus.
  • Internally, "navbar.html" is the Sphinx template used for Bootstrap v3 and "navbar-2.html" is the template used for v2.
  • If you are unsure what to choose, choose Bootstrap 3. If you experience some form of compatibility issues, then try and use Bootstrap 2.

Extending "layout.html"

As a more "hands on" approach to customization, you can override any template in this Sphinx theme or any others. A good candidate for changes is "layout.html", which provides most of the look and feel. First, take a look at the "layout.html" file that the theme provides, and figure out what you need to override. As a side note, we have some theme-specific enhancements, such as the navbarextra template block for additional content in the navbar.

Then, create your own "_templates" directory and "layout.html" file (assuming you build from a "source" directory):

$ mkdir source/_templates
$ touch source/_templates/layout.html

Then, configure your "":

templates_path = ['_templates']

Finally, edit your override file "source/_templates/layout.html":

{# Import the theme's layout. #}
{% extends "!layout.html" %}

{# Add some extra stuff before and use existing with 'super()' call. #}
{% block footer %}
  <h2>My footer of awesomeness.</h2>
  {{ super() }}
{% endblock %}

Adding Custom CSS

Alternately, you could add your own custom static media directory with a CSS file to override a style, which in the demo would be something like:

$ mkdir source/_static
$ touch source/_static/my-styles.css

In the new file "source/_static/my-styles.css", add any appropriate styling, e.g. a bold background color:

footer {
  background-color: red;

Then, in "", edit this line:

html_static_path = ["_static"]

From there it depends on which version of Sphinx you are using:

Sphinx <= 1.5

You will need the override template "source/_templates/layout.html" file configured as above, but with the following code:

{# Import the theme's layout. #}
{% extends "!layout.html" %}

{# Custom CSS overrides #}
{% set css_files = css_files + ['_static/my-styles.css'] %}


See Issue #159 for more information.

Sphinx >= 1.6.1

Add a setup function in "" with stylesheet paths added relative to the static path:

def setup(app):
    app.add_stylesheet("my-styles.css") # also can be a full URL
    # app.add_stylesheet("ANOTHER.css")
    # app.add_stylesheet("AND_ANOTHER.css")


Sphinx automatically calls your setup function defined in "" during the build process for you. There is no need to, nor should you, call this function directly in your code.

Theme Notes


The theme places the global TOC, local TOC, navigation (prev, next) and source links all in the top Bootstrap navigation bar, along with the Sphinx search bar on the left side.

The global (site-wide) table of contents is the "Site" navigation dropdown, which is a configurable level rendering of the toctree for the entire site. The local (page-level) table of contents is the "Page" navigation dropdown, which is a multi-level rendering of the current page's toc.


The theme offers Bootstrap v2.x and v3.x, both of which rely on jQuery v.1.9.x. As the jQuery that Bootstrap wants can radically depart from the jQuery Sphinx internal libraries use, the library from this theme is integrated via noConflict() as $jqTheme.

You can override any static JS/CSS files by dropping different versions in your Sphinx "_static" directory.


Contributions to this project are most welcome. Please make sure that the demo site builds cleanly, and looks like what you want. This project uses tox for development, once you have tox installed (e.g., pip install tox), change directories to the sphinx-bootstrap-theme top-level directory.

  • Building documentation: tox -e docs
  • Validate html links in documentation: tox -e linkcheck
  • Validate the code style: tox -e lint

The encouraged way to develop with this package is to use a development server. Changes made to files local in the repository will require rebuilding the demo website, and using the development server will automate this process.

  1. In your terminal, execute tox -e server from the top level directory. By default, this runs on port 8000. If this port is in use, a pass-through argument to the underlying sphinx-autobuild tool is required such as tox -e server -- -p 8080. The -- between server and -p are required, that signals the end of the arguments to tox and everything after gets fed to sphinx-autobuild.
  2. Open your browser of choice and visit to see the server.
  3. Make any intended edits to the files in this repository. After the server finishes rebuilding you can refresh your browser to see the updates.
  4. When finished, make sure to end the server from your terminal you ran tox -e server with by issuing ctrl+c.


When a tag is pushed of the form vX.Y.Z (with the starting v), it will build the distribution using tox -e dist and upload to PyPI automatically. Before pushing a tag, using Test PyPI should be done. In addition to tox, install twine (pip install twine).

# Build the distribution locally.
$ tox -e dist

# Attempt uploading to Test PyPI
$ twine upload -r testpypi dist/*


The file sphinx_bootstrap_theme/ has the version number that will be created. Make sure it matches the tag you are creating, once an upload goes up it cannot be overwritten. If in preparing a release you find an error and need to rebuild, simply increase the dev version in and then rebuild and reupload. For example:

--- a/sphinx_bootstrap_theme/
+++ b/sphinx_bootstrap_theme/
@@ -1,7 +1,7 @@
 """Sphinx bootstrap theme."""
 import os

-__version__ = "0.8.0.dev0"
+__version__ = "0.8.0.dev1"

After verifying that everything appears as desired on Test PyPI at the project URL, one can also test the installation if desired: pip install --index-url sphinx-bootstrap-theme

Now that everything is validated, we are ready for release.

  1. Set the version number in sphinx_bootstrap_theme/ correctly. E.g., for release 0.8.0, set __version__ = "0.8.0" without the trailing dev qualifier.
  2. If desired, rebuild and upload to Test PyPI. Commit and push the changed version number. Tag this commit git tag v0.8.0 (note the leading v is required for the CI/CD), and git push --tags. This should initiate the official release and upload it to PyPI (see the files .github/workflows/{package,github_pages}.yaml for more).
  3. Now that the release is out, update the version number so that any users installing from source do not believe they have an official release. E.g., set __version__ = "0.8.1.dev0", commit and push this "dev version bump" online.


Sphinx Bootstrap Theme is licensed under the MIT license.

Bootstrap v2 is licensed under the Apache license 2.0.

Bootstrap v3.1.0+ is licensed under the MIT license.