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Read the Docs theme for Sphinx

Project description license

Read the Docs Sphinx Theme

View a working demo over on

This is a mobile-friendly sphinx theme I made for

If you’d like to update the theme, please make your edits to the SASS files here, rather than the .css files on checked into the repo.



Via package

Download the package or add it to your requirements.txt file:

pip install sphinx_rtd_theme

In your file:

import sphinx_rtd_theme
html_theme = "sphinx_rtd_theme"
html_theme_path = [sphinx_rtd_theme.get_html_theme_path()]

or (since v0.2.5):

html_theme = "sphinx_rtd_theme"

Via git or download

Symlink or subtree the sphinx_rtd_theme/sphinx_rtd_theme repository into your documentation at docs/_themes/sphinx_rtd_theme then add the following two settings to your Sphinx file:

html_theme = "sphinx_rtd_theme"
html_theme_path = ["_themes", ]


You can configure different parts of the theme.

Project-wide configuration

The theme’s project-wide options are defined in the sphinx_rtd_theme/theme.conf file of this repository, and can be defined in your project’s via html_theme_options. For example:

html_theme_options = {
    'typekit_id': hiw1hhg,
    'collapse_navigation': False
    'sticky_navigation': False
    'navigation_depth': 4
    'includehidden': True
    'display_version': True
    'prev_next_buttons_location': bottom

The following options are available:

  • canonical_url This will specify a canonical url to let search engines know they should give higher ranking to latest version of the docs. The url points to the root of the documentation and requires a trailing slash.

  • includehidden Specifies if the global toctree includes toctrees marked with the :hidden: option

  • prev_next_buttons_location can take the value bottom, top, both , or None and will display the “Next” and “Previous” buttons accordingly

Page-level configuration

Pages support metadata that changes how the theme renders. You can currently add the following:

  • :github_url: This will force the “Edit on GitHub” to the configured URL

  • :bitbucket_url: This will force the “Edit on Bitbucket” to the configured URL

  • :gitlab_url: This will force the “Edit on GitLab” to the configured URL



  • Include fontawesome-webfont.woff2 in pip package

  • Updated wyrm and Font Awesome

  • Split multiple data types on different lines

  • Italicize .versionmodified

  • Fix line number spacing to align with the code lines

  • Hide Edit links on auto created pages

  • Align .. centered:: text to the center

  • Increase contrast for footnotes

  • Add language to the JS output variable

  • Include the lato italics font with the theme

  • Fix padding on field lists

  • Add setuptools entry point allowing to use sphinx_rtd_theme as Sphinx html_theme directly.


  • Yet another patch to deal with extra builders outside Spinx, such as the singlehtml builders from the Read the Docs Sphinx extension


  • Temporarily patch Sphinx issue with singlehtml builder by inspecting the builder in template.


  • Roll back toctree fix in 0.2.1 (#367). This didn’t fix the issue and introduced another bug with toctrees display.


  • Add the rel HTML attribute to the footer links which point to the previous and next pages.

  • Fix toctree issue caused by Sphinx singlehtml builder (#367)


  • Adds the comments block after the body block in the template

  • Added “Edit on GitLab” support

  • Many bug fixes


  • Removes Sphinx dependency

  • Fixes hamburger on mobile display

  • Adds a body_begin block to the template

  • Added prev_next_buttons_location


  • Intermittent scrollbar visibility bug fixed. This change introduces a backwards incompatible change to the theme’s layout HTML. This should only be a problem for derivative themes that have overridden styling of nav elements using direct decendant selectors. See #215 for more information.

  • Safari overscroll bug fixed

  • Version added to the nav header

  • Revision id was added to the documentation footer if you are using RTD

  • An extra block, extrafooter was added to allow extra content in the document footer block

  • Fixed modernizr URL

  • Small display style changes on code blocks, figure captions, and nav elements


  • Start keeping changelog :)

  • Support for third and fourth level headers in the sidebar

  • Add support for Sphinx 1.3

  • Add sidebar headers for :caption: in Sphinx toctree

  • Clean up sidebar scrolling behavior so it never scrolls out of view

How the Table of Contents builds

Currently the left menu will build based upon any toctree(s) defined in your index.rst file. It outputs 2 levels of depth, which should give your visitors a high level of access to your docs. If no toctrees are set the theme reverts to sphinx’s usual local toctree.

It’s important to note that if you don’t follow the same styling for your rST headers across your documents, the toctree will misbuild, and the resulting menu might not show the correct depth when it renders.

Also note that by default the table of contents is set with includehidden=True. This allows you to set a hidden toc in your index file with the hidden property that will allow you to build a toc without it rendering in your index.

By default, the navigation will “stick” to the screen as you scroll. However if your toc is vertically too large, it will revert to static positioning. To disable the sticky nav altogether change the setting in

Contributing or modifying the theme

The sphinx_rtd_theme is primarily a sass project that requires a few other sass libraries. I’m using bower to manage these dependencies and sass to build the css. The good news is I have a very nice set of grunt operations that will not only load these dependencies, but watch for changes, rebuild the sphinx demo docs and build a distributable version of the theme. The bad news is this means you’ll need to set up your environment similar to that of a front-end developer (vs. that of a python developer). That means installing node and ruby.

Set up your environment

  1. Install sphinx into a virtual environment.

    pip install sphinx sphinxcontrib-httpdomain
  2. Install sass.

    gem install sass
  3. Install node, bower, grunt, and theme dependencies.

    # Install node
    brew install node
    # Install bower and grunt
    npm install -g bower grunt-cli
    # Now that everything is installed, let's install the theme dependencies.
    npm install

Now that our environment is set up, make sure you’re in your virtual environment, go to this repository in your terminal and run grunt:


This default task will do the following very cool things that make it worth the trouble:

  1. Install and update any bower dependencies.

  2. Run sphinx and build new docs.

  3. Watch for changes to the sass files and build css from the changes.

  4. Rebuild the sphinx docs anytime it notices a change to .rst, .html, .js or .css files.

Before you create an issue

I don’t have a lot of time to maintain this project due to other responsibilities. I know there are a lot of Python engineers out there that can’t code sass / css and are unable to submit pull requests. That said, submitting random style bugs without at least providing sample documentation that replicates your problem is a good way for me to ignore your request. RST unfortunately can spit out a lot of things in a lot of ways. I don’t have time to research your problem for you, but I do have time to fix the actual styling issue if you can replicate the problem for me.

Releasing the Theme

When you release a new version, you should do the following:

  1. Bump the version in sphinx_rtd_theme/ – we try to follow semver, so be careful with breaking changes.

  2. Run a grunt build to rebuild all the theme assets.

  3. Commit that change.

  4. Tag the release in git: git tag $NEW_VERSION.

  5. Push the tag to GitHub: git push --tags origin.

  6. Upload the package to PyPI: python sdist bdist_wheel upload.

  7. In the repo, edit the bower.json file to point at the correct version (sphinx-rtd-theme": "$NEW_VERSION").

  8. In the repo, run gulp build to update the distributed theme files.


  • Separate some sass variables at the theme level so you can overwrite some basic colors.

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