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Sphinx documentation theme based on

Project description



Online demo of the theme:

Stanford web color specification: [1] and [2]

Add new fonts

  1. Edit bower.json, add ubuntumono-googlefont to dependency list.

  2. Edit Gruntfile.js, add font paths like the others.

  3. Edit sass/_theme_font_local.sass, note that font-weight: 400 corresponds to normal font while 700 correspoonds to bold.

  4. Make sure the font files are copied to sphinx_theme/<mytheme>/static/fonts/


  • bower_components/wyrm contains the SASS for the original WYRM core. You can override variables in it to use customized color.

  • sass/_theme_variables.sass defines most of the colors.

  • sass/_theme_rst.sass defines how to render any reStructuredText file. All customizations are marked with mydef in the code comment.

  • sass/_theme_layout.css defines how to render menu, navigation bars, etc.


  1. Work in sass/ folder and Grunt will auto copy the generated files into test_theme

  2. Once done, copy sass/ to sass_<newtheme> and copy test_theme to sphinx_theme/<newtheme> subdir.

  3. Update sphinx_theme/ to include the new theme.


Via package

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

$ pip install sphinx_theme

In your file:

import sphinx_theme
html_theme = "stanford_theme"
html_theme_path = [sphinx_theme.get_html_theme_path('stanford-theme')]

# All available themes:
# >> ['stanford_theme', 'neo_rtd_theme']

Via git or download

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

html_theme = "stanford_theme"
html_theme_path = ["_themes/sphinx_theme", ]


You can configure different parts of the theme.

Project-wide configuration

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

html_theme_options = {
    'collapse_navigation': False,
    'display_version': False,
    'navigation_depth': 3,

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

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 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

Make the theme compatible with ReadTheDocs

Currently if you import stanford_theme in your local sphinx build, then pass that same config to Read the Docs, it will fail, since RTD gets confused. If you want to run this theme locally and then also have it build on RTD, then you can add something like this to your config. Thanks to Daniel Oaks for this.

# on_rtd is whether we are on, this line of code grabbed from
on_rtd = os.environ.get('READTHEDOCS', None) == 'True'

if not on_rtd:  # only import and set the theme if we're building docs locally
    import sphinx_theme
    html_theme = 'stanford_theme'
    html_theme_path = [sphinx_theme.get_html_theme_path('stanford_theme')]

# otherwise, uses their theme by default, so no need to specify it

Editing the theme

The 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
  1. Install sass

gem install sass
  1. Install node, bower and grunt.

// 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 dependecies.
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. It’ll install and update any bower dependencies.

  2. It’ll run sphinx and build new docs.

  3. It’ll watch for changes to the sass files and build css from the changes.

  4. It’ll rebuild the sphinx docs anytime it notices a change to .rst, .html, .js or .css files.

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