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Sphinx uses the Jinja templating engine for its HTML templates. Jinja is a text-based engine, and inspired by Django templates, so anyone having used Django will already be familiar with it. It also has excellent documentation for those who need to make themselves familiar with it.

Do I need to use Sphinx' templates to produce HTML?

No. You have several other options:

Jinja/Sphinx Templating Primer

The default templating language in Sphinx is Jinja. It's Django/Smarty inspired and easy to understand. The most important concept in Jinja is :dfn:`template inheritance`, which means that you can overwrite only specific blocks within a template, customizing it while also keeping the changes at a minimum.

To customize the output of your documentation you can override all the templates (both the layout templates and the child templates) by adding files with the same name as the original filename into the template directory of the structure the Sphinx quickstart generated for you.

Sphinx will look for templates in the folders of :confval:`templates_path` first, and if it can't find the template it's looking for there, it falls back to the selected theme's templates.

A template contains variables, which are replaced with values when the template is evaluated, tags, which control the logic of the template and blocks which are used for template inheritance.

Sphinx' basic theme provides base templates with a couple of blocks it will fill with data. These are located in the :file:`themes/basic` subdirectory of the Sphinx installation directory, and used by all builtin Sphinx themes. Templates with the same name in the :confval:`templates_path` override templates supplied by the selected theme.

For example, to add a new link to the template area containing related links all you have to do is to add a new template called layout.html with the following contents:

{% extends "!layout.html" %}
{% block rootrellink %}
    <li><a href="http://project.invalid/">Project Homepage</a> &raquo;</li>
    {{ super() }}
{% endblock %}

By prefixing the name of the overridden template with an exclamation mark, Sphinx will load the layout template from the underlying HTML theme.

Important: If you override a block, call {{ super() }} somewhere to render the block's content in the extended template -- unless you don't want that content to show up.

Working the the builtin templates

The builtin basic theme supplies the templates that all builtin Sphinx themes are based on. It has the following elements you can override or use:


The following blocks exist in the layout.html template:

The doctype of the output format. By default this is XHTML 1.0 Transitional as this is the closest to what Sphinx and Docutils generate and it's a good idea not to change it unless you want to switch to HTML 5 or a different but compatible XHTML doctype.
This block adds a couple of <link> tags to the head section of the template.
This block is empty by default and can be used to add extra contents into the <head> tag of the generated HTML file. This is the right place to add references to JavaScript or extra CSS files.
relbar1 / relbar2

This block contains the relation bar, the list of related links (the parent documents on the left, and the links to index, modules etc. on the right). relbar1 appears before the document, relbar2 after the document. By default, both blocks are filled; to show the relbar only before the document, you would override relbar2 like this:

{% block relbar2 %}{% endblock %}
rootrellink / relbaritems
Inside the relbar there are three sections: The rootrellink, the links from the documentation and the custom relbaritems. The rootrellink is a block that by default contains a list item pointing to the master document by default, the relbaritems is an empty block. If you override them to add extra links into the bar make sure that they are list items and end with the :data:`reldelim1`.
The contents of the document itself. It contains the block "body" where the individual content is put by subtemplates like page.html.
sidebar1 / sidebar2

A possible location for a sidebar. sidebar1 appears before the document and is empty by default, sidebar2 after the document and contains the default sidebar. If you want to swap the sidebar location override this and call the sidebar helper:

{% block sidebar1 %}{{ sidebar() }}{% endblock %}
{% block sidebar2 %}{% endblock %}

(The sidebar2 location for the sidebar is needed by the sphinxdoc.css stylesheet, for example.)

The logo location within the sidebar. Override this if you want to place some content at the top of the sidebar.
The table of contents within the sidebar.
The relation links (previous, next document) within the sidebar.
The "Show source" link within the sidebar (normally only shown if this is enabled by :confval:`html_show_sourcelink`).
The search box within the sidebar. Override this if you want to place some content at the bottom of the sidebar.
The block for the footer div. If you want a custom footer or markup before or after it, override this one.

Configuration Variables

Inside templates you can set a couple of variables used by the layout template using the {% set %} tag:

Overriding works like this:

{% extends "!layout.html" %}
{% set reldelim1 = ' &gt;' %}

Helper Functions

Sphinx provides various Jinja functions as helpers in the template. You can use them to generate links or output multiply used elements.

Global Variables

These global variables are available in every template and are safe to use. There are more, but most of them are an implementation detail and might change in the future.

In addition to these values, there are also all theme options available (prefixed by theme_), as well as the values given by the user in :confval:`html_context`.

In documents that are created from source files (as opposed to automatically-generated files like the module index, or documents that already are in HTML form), these variables are also available: