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Code blocks

Code blocks and examples are an essential part of technical project documentation. Material for MkDocs provides different ways to set up syntax highlighting for code blocks, either during build time using Pygments or during runtime using a JavaScript syntax highlighter.

Configuration

Highlight

Source · Extension · Supersedes: CodeHilite

The Highlight extension, which is part of Python Markdown Extensions, integrates with Material for MkDocs and provides several options for configuring syntax highlighting of code blocks:

use_pygments

Default: true – This option allows to control whether highlighting should be carried out during build time by Pygments or runtime with a JavaScript highlighter. Remember to add the necessary additional stylesheets and JavaScript if you want to use the latter:

markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.highlight:
      use_pygments: true
markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.highlight:
      use_pygments: false
Syntax highlighting with Highlight.js

Highlight.js can be integrated by creating an additional JavaScript file initializing the highlighter and including the respective stylesheet and JavaScript from a CDN serving Highlight.js in mkdocs.yml:

hljs.initHighlighting()
extra_javascript:
  - https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/highlight.js/10.1.1/highlight.min.js
  - javascripts/config.js
extra_css:
  - https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/highlight.js/10.1.1/styles/default.min.css

Note that Highlight.js has no affiliation with the Highlight extension.

linenums

Default: false – This option will add line numbers to all code blocks. If you wish to add line numbers to some, but not all code blocks, consult the section on adding line numbers later in this document, which also contains some tips on working with line numbers:

markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.highlight:
      linenums: true
linenums_style

Default: table – The Highlight extension provides three ways to add line numbers, all of which are supported by Material for MkDocs. While table wraps a code block in a table, inline and pymdownx.inline render line numbers as part of the line itself:

markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.highlight:
      linenums_style: pymdownx.inline

Note that inline will put line numbers next to the actual code, which means that they will be included when selecting text with the cursor or copying a code block to the clipboard. Thus, the usage of table or pymdownx.inline is recommended.

Material for MkDocs doesn't provide official support for the other options of this extension, so they may be supported but can also yield weird results. Use them at your own risk.

InlineHilite

Source · Extension

The InlineHilite extension, which is part of Python Markdown Extensions also integrates with Material for MkDocs and adds support for syntax highlighting of inline code blocks. It's built on top of the Highlight extension and can be enabled via mkdocs.yml:

markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.inlinehilite

See the section on inline code blocks for usage information.

Keys

Source · Extension

The Keys extension, which is part of Python Markdown Extensions, allows for inserting keyboard keys, e.g. Ctrl+Alt+Del , and can be enabled via mkdocs.yml:

markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.keys

SuperFences

The SuperFences extension, which is also part of Python Markdown Extensions, allows for the nesting of code blocks inside other blocks, and is therefore strongly recommended:

markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.superfences

Snippets

The Snippets extension, which is also part of Python Markdown Extensions, allows to insert content from other files or other, regular content, and can be enabled via mkdocs.yml:

markdown_extensions:
  - pymdownx.snippets

Usage

This section discusses how to use different syntax highlighting features with Pygments – the default highlighter – so they don't apply when using a JavaScript syntax highlighter.

Specifying the language

Code blocks must be enclosed with two separate lines containing three backticks. To add code highlighting to those blocks, add the language short name directly after the opening block. See the list of available lexers to find the short name for a given language.

Example:

``` python
import tensorflow as tf
```

Result:

import tensorflow as tf

Adding line numbers

Line numbers can be added to a code block by using the linenums="<start>" option directly after the short name, whereas <start> represents the starting line number. A code block can start from a line number other than 1, which allows splitting large code blocks for readability.

Example:

``` python linenums="1"
def bubble_sort(items):
    for i in range(len(items)):
        for j in range(len(items) - 1 - i):
            if items[j] > items[j + 1]:
                items[j], items[j + 1] = items[j + 1], items[j]
```

Result:

1
2
3
4
5
def bubble_sort(items):
    for i in range(len(items)):
        for j in range(len(items) - 1 - i):
            if items[j] > items[j + 1]:
                items[j], items[j + 1] = items[j + 1], items[j]

Highlighting specific lines

Specific lines can be highlighted by passing the line numbers to the hl_lines argument placed right after the language short name. Note that line counts start at 1, regardless of the starting line number specified as part of linenums.

Example:

``` python hl_lines="2 3"
def bubble_sort(items):
    for i in range(len(items)):
        for j in range(len(items) - 1 - i):
            if items[j] > items[j + 1]:
                items[j], items[j + 1] = items[j + 1], items[j]
```

Result:

def bubble_sort(items):
    for i in range(len(items)):
        for j in range(len(items) - 1 - i):
            if items[j] > items[j + 1]:
                items[j], items[j + 1] = items[j + 1], items[j]

Highlighting inline code blocks

When InlineHilite is enabled, inline code blocks can be highlighted by prefixing them with a shebang-like sequence, i.e. #!, directly followed by the language short name.

Example:

The `#!python range()` function is used to generate a sequence of numbers.

Result:

The range() function is used to generate a sequence of numbers.

Adding keyboard keys

When Keys is enabled, keyboard keys can be rendered with a simple syntax. Consult the Python Markdown Extensions documentation to learn about all available key codes.

Example:

++ctrl+alt+del++

Result:

Ctrl+Alt+Del

Embedding external files

Also known as transcludes or file transclusion in MultiMarkdown.

When Snippets is enabled, content from other files can be embedded, which is especially useful to reference and embed the contents of source files directly into your project documentation.

Example:

```
--8<--​ ".browserslistrc"
```

Result:

last 4 years

Note that Snippets is not limited to code blocks, but can be used anywhere from a document to move repeating content to separate files, which is also explained in the official documentation.

Customization

Custom syntax theme

Source · Difficulty: easy

If Pygments is used, Material for MkDocs provides the styles for code blocks, which are built with a custom and well-balanced palette that works equally well for both color schemes:

  • --md-code-hl-number-color
  • --md-code-hl-special-color
  • --md-code-hl-function-color
  • --md-code-hl-constant-color
  • --md-code-hl-keyword-color
  • --md-code-hl-string-color
  • --md-code-hl-name-color
  • --md-code-hl-operator-color
  • --md-code-hl-punctuation-color
  • --md-code-hl-comment-color
  • --md-code-hl-generic-color
  • --md-code-hl-variable-color

Code block foreground, background and line highlight colors are defined via:

  • --md-code-fg-color
  • --md-code-bg-color
  • --md-code-hl-color

Let's say you want to change the color of "strings". While there are several types of string tokens, Material for MkDocs assigns a single color to most of them.

Create an additional stylesheet, and add:

:root > * {
  --md-code-hl-string-color: #0FF1CE;
}

If you want to tweak a specific type of string, i.e. `backticks`, you can lookup the specific class name in the syntax theme definition, and override it as part of your additional stylesheet:

.highlight .sb {
  color: #0FF1CE;
}