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A configurable sidebar-enabled Sphinx theme

Project description

What is Alabaster?

Alabaster is a visually (c)lean, responsive, configurable theme for the Sphinx documentation system. It is Python 2+3 compatible.

It began as a third-party theme, and is still maintained separately, but as of Sphinx 1.3, Alabaster is an install-time dependency of Sphinx and is selected as the default theme.

Live examples of this theme can be seen on, and

A changelog can be found at the bottom of this page.


  • Easy ability to install/use as a Python package (tip o’ the hat to Dave & Eric’s sphinx_rtd_theme for showing the way);
  • Style tweaks compared to the source themes, such as better code-block alignment, Github button placement, page source link moved to footer, improved (optional) related-items sidebar item, and many more;
  • Many customization hooks, including toggle of various sidebar & footer components; header/link/etc color control; etc;
  • Improved documentation for all customizations (pre-existing & new).


The bare minimum required to install is as follows:

  1. pip install alabaster (or equivalent).

  2. Enable the ‘alabaster’ theme, mini-extension, and sidebar templates in your

    import alabaster
    html_theme_path = [alabaster.get_path()]
    extensions = ['alabaster']
    html_theme = 'alabaster'
    html_sidebars = {
        '**': [

That’s it! You now have the standard Alabaster theme set up. Read on for more configuration options/concerns.

Theme location

The function alabaster.get_path dynamically returns Alabaster’s install location, ensuring that Sphinx can find and load it regardless of where/how you installed Alabaster. Using it is highly recommended.

If you’ve manually installed Alabaster and/or are doing funky things to your PYTHONPATH, you may need to replace the alabaster.get_path() call with your own explicit string, as per the Sphinx config docs.


If you’re using either of the image-related options outlined below (logo or touch-icon), you’ll also want to tell Sphinx where to get your images from. If so, add a line like this (changing the path if necessary; see the Sphinx docs for ‘html_static_path’):

html_static_path = ['_static']

Custom stylesheet

If you need to modify Alabaster’s default CSS styles in a way not covered by the theme options from the next section, you may provide a custom CSS stylesheet as follows:

  • Create a file named custom.css anywhere you prefer (typically _static/, but this is solely convention) containing your desired overrides to the CSS found in Alabaster’s static/alabaster_css_t.
  • Set the core Sphinx option html_static_path to either that file’s path, or the directory it lives within.


As of Alabaster 0.7.8, we will stop accepting feature requests which are more appropriately solved by using this functionality instead.

Theme options

Alabaster’s primary configuration route is the html_theme_options variable, set in alongside the rest. A brief example (note: snippet doesn’t include all possible options, see following list!):

html_theme_options = {
    'logo': 'logo.png',
    'github_user': 'bitprophet',
    'github_repo': 'alabaster',

Variables and feature toggles

  • logo: Relative path (from $PROJECT/_static/) to a logo image, which will appear in the upper left corner above the name of the project.

    • If logo is not set, your project name setting (from the top level Sphinx config) will be used in a text header instead. This preserves a link back to your homepage from inner doc pages.
  • logo_name: Set to true to insert your site’s project name under the logo image as text. Useful if your logo doesn’t include the project name itself. Defaults to false.

  • logo_text_align: Which CSS text-align value to use for logo text (if there is any.)

  • body_text_align: Which CSS text-align value to use for body text (if there is any.)

  • description: Text blurb about your project, to appear under the logo.

  • description_font_style: Which CSS font-style to use for description text. Defaults to normal.

  • github_user, github_repo: Used by github_button and github_banner (see below); does nothing if both of those are set to false.

  • github_button: true or false (default: true) - whether to link to your Github.

    • If true, requires that you set github_user and github_repo.

    • See also these other related options, which behave as described in Github Buttons’ documentation:

      • github_type: Defaults to watch.
      • github_count: Defaults to true.
  • github_banner: true or false (default: false) - whether to apply a ‘Fork me on Github’ banner in the top right corner of the page.

    • If true, requires that you set github_user and github_repo.
    • May also submit a string file path (as with logo, relative to $PROJECT/_static/) to be used as the banner image instead of the default.
  • travis_button: true, false or a Github-style "account/repo" string - used to display a Travis-CI build status button in the sidebar. If true, uses your github_(user|repo) settings; defaults to false.

  • codecov_button: true, false or a Github-style "account/repo" string - used to display a Codecov build status button in the sidebar. If true, uses your github_(user|repo) settings; defaults to false.

  • gratipay_user: Set to your Gratipay username if you want a Gratipay ‘Donate’ section in your sidebar.

    • This used to be gittip_user before that service changed its name to Gratipay; we’ve left the old setting in place as an alias for backwards compatibility reasons. It may be removed in the future.
    • If both options are given, gratipay_user wins.
  • analytics_id: Set to your Google Analytics ID (e.g. UA-#######-##) to enable tracking.

  • touch_icon: Path to an image (as with logo, relative to $PROJECT/_static/) to be used for an iOS application icon, for when pages are saved to an iOS device’s home screen via Safari.

  • extra_nav_links: Dictionary mapping link names to link targets; these will be added in a UL below the main sidebar navigation (provided you’ve enabled navigation.html.) Useful for static links outside your Sphinx doctree.

  • sidebar_includehidden: Boolean determining whether the TOC sidebar should include hidden Sphinx toctree elements. Defaults to true so you can use :hidden: in your index page’s root toctree & avoid having 2x copies of your navigation on your landing page.

  • show_powered_by: Boolean controlling display of the Powered by Sphinx N.N.N. & Alabaster M.M.M section of the footer. When true, is displayed next to the copyright information; when false, is hidden.

  • show_related: Boolean controlling whether the ‘next/previous/related’ secondary navigation elements are hidden or displayed. Defaults to false since on many sites these elements are superfluous.

  • page_width: CSS width specifier controlling default content/page width. Defaults to 940px.

  • sidebar_width: CSS width specifier controlling default sidebar width. Defaults to 220px.

  • fixed_sidebar: Makes the sidebar ‘fixed’ or pinned in place, so that the main body of the page scrolls but the sidebar remains visible. (Applies only to desktop window sizes; the mobile view is unaffected.) Defaults to false.

Style colors

These should be fully qualified CSS color specifiers such as #004B6B or #444. The first few items in the list are “global” colors used as defaults for many of the others; update these to make sweeping changes to the colorscheme. The more granular settings can be used to override as needed.

  • gray_1: Dark gray.
  • gray_2: Light gray.
  • gray_3: Medium gray.
  • pink_1: Light pink.
  • pink_2: Medium pink.
  • body_text: Main content text.
  • footer_text: Footer text (includes links.)
  • link: Non-hovered body links.
  • link_hover: Body links, hovered.
  • sidebar_header: Sidebar headers. Defaults to gray_1.
  • sidebar_text: Sidebar paragraph text.
  • sidebar_link: Sidebar links (there is no hover variant.) Applies to both header & text links. Defaults to gray_1.
  • sidebar_link_underscore: Sidebar links’ underline (technically a bottom-border).
  • sidebar_search_button: Background color of the search field’s ‘Go’ button.
  • sidebar_list: Foreground color of sidebar list bullets & unlinked text.
  • sidebar_hr: Color of sidebar horizontal rule dividers. Defaults to gray_3.
  • anchor: Foreground color of section anchor links (the ‘paragraph’ symbol that shows up when you mouseover page section headers.)
  • anchor_hover_fg: Foreground color of section anchor links (as above) when moused over. Defaults to gray_1.
  • anchor_hover_bg: Background color of above.
  • note_bg: Background of .. note:: blocks. Defaults to gray_2.
  • note_border: Border of same.
  • seealso_bg: Background of .. seealso:: blocks. Defaults to gray_2.
  • seealso_border: Border of same.
  • warn_bg: Background of .. warn:: blocks. Defaults to pink_1.
  • warn_border: Border of same. Defaults to pink_2.
  • footnote_bg: Background of footnote blocks.
  • footnote_border: Border of same. Defaults to gray_2.
  • pre_bg: Background of preformatted text blocks (including code snippets.) Defaults to gray_2.
  • narrow_sidebar_bg: Background of ‘sidebar’ when narrow window forces it to the bottom of the page.
  • narrow_sidebar_fg: Text color of same.
  • narrow_sidebar_link: Link color of same. Defaults to gray_3.
  • code_highlight: Color of highlight when using :emphasize-lines: in a code block.


  • font_family: Font family of body text. Defaults to 'goudy old style', 'minion pro', 'bell mt', Georgia, 'Hiragino Mincho Pro', serif.
  • font_size: Font size of body text. Defaults to 17px (1.0625em).
  • head_font_family: Font family of headings. Defaults to 'Garamond', 'Georgia', serif.
  • code_font_size: Font size of code block text. Defaults to 0.9em.
  • code_font_family: Font family of code block text. Defaults to 'Consolas', 'Menlo', 'Deja Vu Sans Mono', 'Bitstream Vera Sans Mono', monospace.
  • caption_font_size: Font size of caption block text. Defaults to font-size.
  • caption_font_family: Font family of caption block text. Defaults to font-family.

Project background

Alabaster is a modified (with permission) version of Kenneth Reitz’s “krTheme” Sphinx theme (it’s the one used in his Requests project). Kenneth’s theme was itself originally based on Armin Ronacher’s Flask theme. Many thanks to both for their hard work.

Implementation notes

  • Fabric #419 contains a lot of general exposition & thoughts as I developed Alabaster, specifically with a mind towards using it on two nearly identical ‘sister’ sites (single-version www ‘info’ site & versioned API docs site).
  • Alabaster includes/requires a tiny Sphinx extension on top of the theme itself; this is just so we can inject dynamic metadata (like Alabaster’s own version number) into template contexts. It doesn’t add any additional directives or the like, at least not yet.


0.1.0 (2013-12-31)

  • First tagged/PyPI’d version.

0.2.0 (2014-01-28)

  • Allow control of logo replacement text’s alignment.
  • Add customized navigation sidebar element.
  • Tweak page margins a bit.
  • Add a 3rd level of medium-gray to the stylesheet & apply in a few places.

0.3.0 (2014-02-03)

  • Display Alabaster version in footers alongside Sphinx version. (This necessitates using a mini Sphinx extension).
  • Other footer tweaks.

0.3.1 (2014-03-13)

  • Improved Python 3 compatibility.
  • Update styling of changelog pages generated by bitprophet/releases.

0.4.0 (2014-04-06)

  • Add an option to allow un-hiding one’s toctree.

0.4.1 (2014-04-06)

  • Fix an inaccuracy in the descriptin of logo_text_align.
  • Update logo & text styling to be more sensible.

0.5.0 (2014-04-09)

  • Add support for sidebar Travis status buttons.

0.5.1 (2014-04-15)

  • Fix a bug in the new Travis support, re: its default value.

0.6.0 (2014-04-17)

  • Allow hiding the ‘powered by’ section of the footer.
  • Fix outdated name in URL field.

0.6.1 (2014-09-04)

  • Update Gittip support to acknowledge the service’s rename to Gratipay.

0.6.2 (2014-11-25)

  • Make .. warn:: blocks have a pink background (instead of having no background, which was apparently an oversight of the themes Alabaster is based on) and also make that color configurable.

0.7.1 (2015-02-27)


There is no 0.7.0, there was some PyPI fun and replacing sdists isn’t permitted :)

  • Finally add a changelog. To the README, for now, because a full doc site isn’t worthwhile just yet.
  • Allow configuring a custom Github banner image (instead of simply toggling a default on or off). Thanks to Nicola Iarocci for the original patch.
  • Explicitly note Python version support in the README and
  • Update Github button image link to use the newly-available HTTPS version of the URL; this helps prevent errors on doc pages served via HTTPS. Thanks to Gustavo Narea for the report.
  • Add control over the font size & family of code blocks. Credit to Steven Loria.
  • Allow control over font family of body text and headings. Thanks to Georg Brandl.
  • Stylize .. seealso:: blocks same as .. note:: blocks for consistency’s sake (previously, .. seealso:: used the Sphinx default styling, which clashed). We may update these again later but for now, this is an improvement! Thanks again to Steven Loria.
  • Allow control over CSS font-style for the site description/tagline element. Credit: Steven Loria.
  • Add styling to disable default cell borders on .. bibliography:: directives’ output. Thanks to Philippe Dessus for the report.

0.7.2 (2015-03-10)

  • Updated CSS stylesheets to apply monospace styling to both tt and code elements, instead of just to tt. This addresses a change in HTML generation in Sphinx 1.3 while retaining support for Sphinx 1.2. Thanks to Eric Holscher for the heads up.

0.7.3 (2015-03-20)

  • Hide shadow related styles on bibliography elements, in addition to the earlier change re: border. Thanks again to Philippe Dessus.

0.7.4 (2015-05-03)

  • Add code_highlight option (which includes general fixes to styling of code blocks containing highlighted lines). Thanks to Steven Loria.

0.7.5 (2015-06-15)

  • Honor Sphinx’s core html_show_copyright option when rendering page footer. Thanks to Marcin Wojdyr for the report.

  • Pre-history versions of Alabaster attempted to remove the “related” sub-navigation (typically found as next/previous links in other themes) but this didn’t work right for mobile-oriented styling.

    This has been fixed by (re-)adding an improved sidebar nav element for these links and making its display controllable via the new show_related theme option (which defaults to false for backwards compatibility).

    NOTE: to enable the related-links nav, you’ll need to set show_related to true and add relations.html to your html_sidebars (we’ve updated the example config in this README to indicate this for new installs).

    Thanks to Tomi Pieviläinen for the bug report.

  • Update the “Fork me on Github” banner image to use an https:// URI so sites hosted over HTTPS don’t encounter mixed-content errors. Thanks to @nikolas for the patch.

  • Remove an orphaned </li> from the footer ‘show source’ section. Credit to Marcin Wojdyr.

0.7.6 (2015-06-22)

  • Update how handles the README.rst file - load it explicitly as UTF-8 so the changelog containing non-ASCII characters doesn’t generate UnicodeDecodeError in terminal environments whose default encoding is not UTF-8 or other Unicode-compatible encodings. Thanks to Arun Persaud for the report and Max Tepkeev for the suggested fix.
  • Fix left-margin & padding styling for code blocks within list-item elements, making them consistent with earlier changes applied to top-level code blocks.
  • Expose page & sidebar widths as theme options page_width and sidebar_width. Their defaults are the same as the previously static values.

0.7.7 (2015-12-21)

  • Add some margin-bottom to table.field-list p so field lists (e.g. Python function parameter lists in docstrings) written as multiple paragraphs, look like actual paragraphs instead of all globbing together.
  • Fix incorrect notes in README re: renamed github_button_* options - the button_ was dropped but docs did not reflect this. Thanks to Nik Nyby.
  • Fix sidebar_hr setting - stylesheet wasn’t correctly referencing the right variable name. Thanks to Jannis Leidel.
  • Allow configuring body text-align via body_text_align. Credit to Marçal Solà.
  • Fix a handful of mismatched/unclosed HTML tags in the templates. Thanks to Marvin Pinto for catch & patch.
  • Add Codecov badge support to sidebar.

0.7.8 (2016-05-05)

  • #51 (via #67): Hide Github button if github_user and github_repo aren’t set. This is necessary since github_button defaults to True. Thanks to Sam Whited for the report & Dmitry Shachnev for the patch.
  • #75: Use SVG version of the Travis-CI button. Thanks to Sebastian Wiesner for the patch.
  • #41: Update the Github buttons to use a newer linked image & change the link to their docs. Thanks to Tomi Hukkalainen.
  • #45 (via #46) Tweak styling of nested bullet lists to prevent an issue where they all collapse to the same indent level when viewed on smaller display sizes. Thanks to Bram Geron for catch & patch, and to Jochen Kupperschmidt for review/discussion.
  • #44 (partial; via #57) Add an opt-in fixed sidebar behavior for users who prefer a sidebar that never scrolls out of view. Credit: Joe Cross.
  • #61: Set a small-but-nonzero footnote width to work around a common browser display bug. Thanks to Konstantin Molchanov for catch & patch.
  • #64: Add config options for font size and caption font size/family. Credit: Marçal Solà.
  • #78: Add custom stylesheet support. (This release will thus be the last to merge simplistic style tweaks as feature toggles - only thorny CSS issues or actual template-related changes will be merged afterwards.)
  • #65: Wrap the sidebar’s “Navigation” header in Sphinx’s translation helper so it gets translated if possible. Thanks to @uralbash.
  • #77: Fix image link styling to remove a bottom border which appears in some situations. Thanks to Eric Holscher for the patch & @barbara-sfx for the report.

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