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Project documentation is as diverse as the projects themselves and Material for MkDocs is a good starting point for making it look great. However, as you write your documentation, you may reach a point where some small adjustments are necessary to preserve your brand's style.

Adding assets

MkDocs provides several ways to customize a theme. In order to make a few tweaks to an existing theme, you can just add your stylesheets and JavaScript files to the docs directory.

Additional stylesheets

If you want to tweak some colors or change the spacing of certain elements, you can do this in a separate stylesheet. The easiest way is by creating a new stylesheet file in the docs directory:

mkdir docs/stylesheets
touch docs/stylesheets/extra.css

Then, add the following line to mkdocs.yml:

  - stylesheets/extra.css

Spin up the live preview server and start typing your changes in your additional stylesheet file – you should see them almost instantly after saving.

Additional JavaScript

The same is true for additional JavaScript. If you want to integrate another syntax highlighter or add some custom logic to your theme, create a new JavaScript file in the docs directory:

mkdir docs/javascripts
touch docs/javascripts/extra.js

Then, add the following line to mkdocs.yml:

  - javascripts/extra.js

Further assistance can be found in the MkDocs documentation.

Extending the theme

If you want to alter the HTML source (e.g. add or remove some part), you can extend the theme. MkDocs supports theme extension, an easy way to override parts of a theme without forking and changing the main theme.

Setup and theme structure

Reference the original theme as usual in mkdocs.yml, and create a new folder for overrides which you reference using custom_dir:

  name: material
  custom_dir: overrides

Theme extension prerequisites

As the custom_dir variable is used for the theme extension process, Material for MkDocs needs to be installed via pip and referenced with the name parameter in mkdocs.yml. It will not work when cloning from git.

The structure in the overrides directory must mirror the directory structure of the original theme, as any file in the overrides directory will replace the file with the same name which is part of the original theme. Besides, further assets may also be put in the overrides directory.

The directory layout of the theme is as follows:

├─ .icons/                             # Bundled icon sets
├─ assets/
│  ├─ images/                          # Images and icons
│  ├─ javascripts/                     # JavaScript
│  └─ stylesheets/                     # Stylesheets
├─ partials/
│  ├─ integrations/                    # Third-party integrations
│  │  ├─ analytics.html                # - Google Analytics
│  │  └─ disqus.html                   # - Disqus
│  ├─ language/                        # Localized languages
│  ├─ footer.html                      # Footer bar
│  ├─ header.html                      # Header bar
│  ├─ hero.html                        # Hero teaser
│  ├─ language.html                    # Localized labels
│  ├─ logo.html                        # Logo in header and sidebar
│  ├─ nav.html                         # Main navigation
│  ├─ nav-item.html                    # Main navigation item
│  ├─ palette.html                     # Color palette
│  ├─ search.html                      # Search box
│  ├─ social.html                      # Social links
│  ├─ source.html                      # Repository information
│  ├─ source-date.html                 # Last updated date
│  ├─ source-link.html                 # Link to source file
│  ├─ tabs.html                        # Tabs navigation
│  ├─ tabs-item.html                   # Tabs navigation item
│  ├─ toc.html                         # Table of contents
│  └─ toc-item.html                    # Table of contents item
├─ 404.html                            # 404 error page
├─ base.html                           # Base template
└─ main.html                           # Default page

Overriding partials

In order to override the footer, we can replace the footer.html partial with our own partial. To do this, create the file partials/footer.html in the overrides directory. MkDocs will now use the new partial when rendering the theme. This can be done with any file.

Overriding blocks

Besides overriding partials, it's also possible to override (and extend) so called blocks, which are defined inside the templates and wrap specific features. To override a block, create a main.html inside the overrides directory and define the block, e.g.:

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block htmltitle %}
  <title>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet</title>
{% endblock %}

Material for MkDocs provides the following template blocks:

Block name Wrapped contents
analytics Wraps the Google Analytics integration
announce Wraps the announcement bar
config Wraps the JavaScript application config
content Wraps the main content
disqus Wraps the Disqus integration
extrahead Empty block to add custom meta tags
fonts Wraps the font definitions
footer Wraps the footer with navigation and copyright
header Wraps the fixed header bar
hero Wraps the hero teaser (if available)
htmltitle Wraps the <title> tag
libs Wraps the JavaScript libraries (header)
scripts Wraps the JavaScript application (footer)
source Wraps the linked source files
site_meta Wraps the meta tags in the document head
site_nav Wraps the site navigation and table of contents
styles Wraps the stylesheets (also extra sources)
tabs Wraps the tabs navigation (if available)

For more on this topic refer to the MkDocs documentation.

Theme development

Material for MkDocs uses Webpack as a build tool to leverage modern web technologies like TypeScript and SASS. If you want to make more fundamental changes, it may be necessary to make the adjustments directly in the source of the theme and recompile it.

Environment setup

In order to start development on Material for MkDocs, a Node.js version of at least 12 is required. First, clone the repository:

git clone

Next, all dependencies need to be installed, which is done with:

cd mkdocs-material
pip install -r requirements.txt
pip install mkdocs-minify-plugin
npm install

Development mode

Start the Webpack watchdog with:

npm start

Then, in a second session, start the MkDocs server with:

mkdocs serve

Point your browser to localhost:8000 and you should see this documentation in front of you.

Automatically generated files

Never make any changes in the material directory, as the contents of this directory are automatically generated from the src directory and will be overridden when the theme is built.

Building the theme

When you're finished making your changes, you can build the theme by invoking:

npm run build

This triggers the production-level compilation and minification of all stylesheets and JavaScript sources. When the command exits, the final files are located in the material directory. Add the theme_dir variable pointing to the aforementioned directory in the original mkdocs.yml.

Now you can run mkdocs build and you should see your documentation with your changes to the original theme.