Theme Structure and Layout#

This section describes some basic ways to control the layout and structure of your documentation. This theme inherits its structure and section terminology from the Sphinx Basic NG theme.

Overview of theme layout#

Below is a brief overview of the major layout of this theme. Take a look at the diagram to understand what the major sections are called. Where you can insert component templates in html_theme_options, we include the variable name in inline code. Click on section titles to learn more about them and some basic layout configurations. For complete reference of the existing option please see the last section of this page.



Section links




Primary Sidebar

Links between pages in the active section.



Article Header

article_header_start article_header_end

Article Content

Article Footer

article_footer_items prev_next_area

Horizontal spacing#

By default, the theme’s three columns have fixed widths. The primary sidebar will snap to the left, the secondary sidebar will snap to the right, and the article content will be centered in between.

  • If one of the sidebars is not present, then the article content will be centered between the other sidebar and the side of the page.

  • If neither sidebar is present, the article content will be in the middle of the page.

If you’d like the article content to take up more width than its default, use the max-width CSS property with the following selectors:

.bd-main .bd-content .bd-article-container {
  max-width: 100%;  /* default is 60em */

The above rule will set the article content max width to the same width as the top navigation bar. To truly use all of the available page width, you also need to set the following CSS rule:

.bd-page-width {
  max-width: 100%;  /* default is 88rem */

This will affect both the article content and the top navigation bar.


If you use both of the custom CSS rules above, be sure to keep them as separate rules in your CSS file. If you combine them, the result will be a CSS selector that is less specific than the two default rules in the theme, and your custom CSS will fail to override the theme defaults.

Templates and components#

There are a few major theme sections that you can customize to add/remove built-in components or add your own components. Each section is configured with a list of HTML templates — these are snippets of HTML that are inserted into the section by Sphinx.

You can choose which templates show up in each section, as well as the order in which they appear. This page describes the major areas that you can customize.


When configuring templates in each section, you may omit the .html suffix after each template if you wish.

Header / Navigation Bar#

Located in sections/header.html.

The header is at the top of the page above all other content and contains site-level information.

Header sections#

The header is broken up into three sections. Each section is configured in with the following configuration:

  • Left section: html_theme_options['navbar_start']

  • Middle menu: html_theme_options['navbar_center']

  • Right section: html_theme_options['navbar_end']

  • Persistent right section: html_theme_options['navbar_persistent']

By default, the following configuration is used:

html_theme_options = {
# ...
"navbar_start": ["navbar-logo"],
"navbar_center": ["navbar-nav"],
"navbar_end": ["navbar-icon-links"],
"navbar_persistent": ["search-button"]
# ...


The Persistent right section is placed next to the navbar_end, but its elements will remain visible in the header even on small screens when all other elements are collapsed. It has been design for the search-button only and we cannot guarantee its compatibility with other components.

Configure the navbar center alignment#

By default, the navigation bar center area will align with the content on your page. This equals the following default configuration:

html_theme_options = {
   # ...
   "navbar_align": "content"
   # ...

If instead, you’d like these items to snap to the left (closer to the logo), use this configuration:

html_theme_options = {
   # ...
   "navbar_align": "left"
   # ...

If you’d like these items to snap to the right of the page, use this configuration:

html_theme_options = {
   # ...
   "navbar_align": "right"
   # ...

Article Header#

Located in sections/header-article.html.

The article header is a narrow bar just above the article’s content. There are two sub-sections that can have component templates added to them:

  • article_header_start is aligned to the beginning (left) of the article header. By default, this section has the breadcrumbs.html component which displays links to parent pages of the current page.

  • article_header_end is aligned to the end (right) of the article header. By default, this section is empty.

Primary sidebar (left)#

Located in sections/sidebar-primary.html.

The primary sidebar is just to the left of a page’s main content. It is primarily used for between-section navigation. By default, it will show links to any siblings/children of the current active top-level section (corresponding to links in your header navigation bar).

Configuring it is a bit different from configuring the other sections because configuring the sidebar is natively supported in Sphinx, via the html_sidebars configuration variable.

For the primary sidebar only, you can configure templates so that they only show up on certain pages. You do so via a configuration like so in

html_sidebars = {
    "<page_pattern>": ["list", "of", "templates"]

Any pages that match <page_pattern> will have their respective templates inserted. You can also * to do glob-style matching, and may use ** to match all pages.

By default, it has the following configuration:

html_sidebars = {
    "**": ["sidebar-nav-bs", "sidebar-ethical-ads"]
  • sidebar-nav-bs.html - a bootstrap-friendly navigation section.

    When there are no pages to show, it will disappear and potentially add extra space for your page’s content.

  • sidebar-ethical-ads.html - a placement for ReadTheDocs’s Ethical Ads (will only show up on ReadTheDocs).

Primary sidebar end sections#

There is a special <div> within the primary sidebar that appears at the bottom of the page, regardless of the content that is above it.

To control the HTML templates that are within this div, use html_theme_options['primary_sidebar_end'] in

By default, it has the following templates:

html_theme_options = {
  # ...
  "primary_sidebar_end": ["sidebar-ethical-ads"],
  # ...

Remove the primary sidebar from pages#

If you’d like the primary sidebar to be removed from a page, you can use the following configuration in

html_sidebars = {
  "pagename": []

This works for glob-style patterns as well. For example:

html_sidebars = {
  "folder/*": []

If you’d like to remove the primary sidebar from all pages of your documentation, use this pattern:

html_sidebars = {
  "**": []

Secondary Sidebar (right)#

Located in sections/sidebar-secondary.html.

The in-page sidebar is just to the right of a page’s article content and is configured in with html_theme_options['secondary_sidebar_items'].

By default, it has the following templates:

html_theme_options = {
  # ...
  "secondary_sidebar_items": ["page-toc", "edit-this-page", "sourcelink"],
  # ...

To learn how to further customize or remove the secondary sidebar, please check Page Table of Contents.

Article Footer#

Located in sections/footer-article.html.

The article footer exists just below your page’s article. By default, It does not contain anything immediately viewable to the reader, but is kept as a placeholder for custom or built-in templates.

html_theme_options = {
  # ...
  "article_footer_items": [],
  # ...

Hide the previous and next buttons#

By default, each page of your site will have “previous” and “next” buttons at the bottom displayed in the prev_next_area. You can hide these buttons with the following configuration:

html_theme_options = {
  "show_prev_next": False

Built-in components to insert into sections#

Below is a list of built-in templates that you can insert into any section. Note that some of them may have CSS rules that assume a specific section (and will be named accordingly).


When adding/changing/overwritting a component, the “.html” suffix is optional. That’s why all of them are displayed without it in the following list.

  • breadcrumbs: Displays (and links to) the parent section(s) of the currently viewed page.

  • copyright: Displays the copyright information (which is defined in

  • edit-this-page: Displays a link to the edit interface of the page source in the specified Version Control System.

  • icon-links: Displays icon-links as list items.

  • indices: Displays links to the Sphinx-generated indices (genindex, modindex, py-modindex).

  • last-updated: Displays the date and time that the documentation was last built.

  • navbar-icon-links: Displays icon-links in the header navbar.

  • navbar-logo: Displays the logo of your documentation site, in the header navbar.

  • navbar-nav: Displays links to the top-level TOCtree elements, in the header navbar.

  • page-toc: Displays the current page’s Table of Contents.

  • prev-next: Displays links to the previous and next page in the TOCtree order.

  • search-button-field: Displays a search field image that opens a search overlay when clicked.

  • search-button: Displays a magnifying glass icon that opens a search overlay when clicked.

  • search-field: Displays an interactive search field directly on the page.

  • searchbox: An empty container that holds the “Hide Search Matches” button when it’s needed.

  • sidebar-ethical-ads: For sites hosted on ReadTheDocs, displays “ethical ads”.

  • sidebar-nav-bs: Displays the TOC-subtree for pages nested under the currently active top-level TOCtree element.

  • sourcelink: Displays a link to the .rst source of the current page.

  • sphinx-version: Display the version of Sphinx used to build your documentation.

  • theme-switcher: Displays an icon to switch between light mode, dark mode, and auto (use browser’s setting).

  • theme-version: Displays the version of pydata-sphinx-theme used to build the documentation.

  • version-switcher: Displays a dropdown box for switching among different versions of your documentation.

Add your own HTML templates to theme sections#

If you’d like to add your own custom template to any of these sections, you could do so with the following steps:

  1. Create an HTML file in a folder called _templates. For example, if you wanted to display the version of your documentation using a Jinja template, you could create a file: _templates/version.html and put the following in it:

    <!-- This will display the version of the docs -->
    {{ version }}
  2. Now add the file to your menu items for one of the sections above. For example:

    html_theme_options = {
    # ...
    "navbar_start": ["navbar-logo", "version"],
    # ...

Build date#

By default this theme does not display the build date even when Sphinx’s html_last_updated_fmt variable is set. If you want the build date displayed, the theme includes a last-updated template that you can add to one of the page regions in your For example:
html_theme_options = {
    "content_footer_items": ["last-updated"],
    # other settings...

If you do specify html_last_updated_fmt but don’t include the last-updated template, the theme will still write the build date into a meta tag in the HTML header, which can be inspected by viewing the page source or extracted with an HTML parser. The tag will look like:

<meta name="docbuild:last-update" content="Aug 15, 2023">

The tag’s content attribute will follow the format specified in the html_last_updated_fmt configuration variable.


Please find here the full list of keys you can use in the html_theme_options in

inherit = basic
# Note that we don't link the CSS file via Sphinx
# instead we manually link it in `webpack-macros.html`
stylesheet = styles/pydata-sphinx-theme.css
pygments_style = tango
sidebars = sidebar-nav-bs.html

# General configuration
sidebarwidth = 270
sidebar_includehidden = True
use_edit_page_button = False
external_links =
bitbucket_url =
github_url =
gitlab_url =
twitter_url =
icon_links_label = Icon Links
icon_links =
analytics =
favicons =
show_prev_next = True
search_bar_text = Search the docs ...
search_bar_position = sidebar
navigation_with_keys =
collapse_navigation = False
navigation_depth = 4
show_nav_level = 1
show_toc_level = 1
navbar_align = content
header_links_before_dropdown = 5
header_dropdown_text = More
switcher =
check_switcher = True
pygment_light_style = a11y-high-contrast-light
pygment_dark_style = a11y-high-contrast-dark
logo =
surface_warnings = True
back_to_top_button = True

# Template placement in theme layouts
navbar_start = navbar-logo
navbar_center = navbar-nav
navbar_end = theme-switcher, navbar-icon-links
navbar_persistent = search-button-field
article_header_start = breadcrumbs
article_header_end =
article_footer_items =
content_footer_items =
primary_sidebar_end = sidebar-ethical-ads
footer_start = copyright, sphinx-version
footer_center =
footer_end = theme-version
secondary_sidebar_items = page-toc, edit-this-page, sourcelink
show_version_warning_banner = False
announcement =

# DEPRECATE after 0.14
footer_items =