A reStructuredText Reference

Quick reStructuredText

Copyright: This document has been placed in the public domain.

The full details of the markup may be found on the reStructuredText page. This document is just intended as a reminder.

Links that look like "(details)" point into the HTML version of the full reStructuredText specification document. These are relative links; if they don't work, please use the master "Quick reStructuredText" document.

Inline Markup


Inline markup allows words and phrases within text to have character styles (like italics and boldface) and functionality (like hyperlinks).

Plain text Typical result Notes
*emphasis* emphasis Normally rendered as italics.
**strong emphasis** strong emphasis Normally rendered as boldface.
`interpreted text` (see note at right) The rendering and meaning of interpreted text is domain- or application-dependent. It can be used for things like index entries or explicit descriptive markup (like program identifiers).
``inline literal`` inline literal Normally rendered as monospaced text. Spaces should be preserved, but line breaks will not be.
reference_ reference A simple, one-word hyperlink reference. See Hyperlink Targets.
`phrase reference`_ phrase reference A hyperlink reference with spaces or punctuation needs to be quoted with backquotes. See Hyperlink Targets.
anonymous__ anonymous With two underscores instead of one, both simple and phrase references may be anonymous (the reference text is not repeated at the target). See Hyperlink Targets.
_`inline internal target` inline internal target A crossreference target within text. See Hyperlink Targets.
|substitution reference| (see note at right) The result is substituted in from the substitution definition. It could be text, an image, a hyperlink, or a combination of these and others.
footnote reference [1]_ footnote reference 1 See Footnotes.
citation reference [CIT2002]_ citation reference [CIT2002] See Citations.
http://docutils.sf.net/ http://docutils.sf.net/ A standalone hyperlink.

Asterisk, backquote, vertical bar, and underscore are inline delimiter characters. Asterisk, backquote, and vertical bar act like quote marks; matching characters surround the marked-up word or phrase, whitespace or other quoting is required outside them, and there can't be whitespace just inside them. If you want to use inline delimiter characters literally, escape (with backslash) or quote them (with double backquotes; i.e. use inline literals).

In detail, the reStructuredText specification says that in inline markup, the following rules apply to start-strings and end-strings (inline markup delimiters):

  1. The start-string must start a text block or be immediately preceded by whitespace or any of  ' " ( [ { or <.
  2. The start-string must be immediately followed by non-whitespace.
  3. The end-string must be immediately preceded by non-whitespace.
  4. The end-string must end a text block (end of document or followed by a blank line) or be immediately followed by whitespace or any of ' " . , : ; ! ? - ) ] } / \ or >.
  5. If a start-string is immediately preceded by one of  ' " ( [ { or <, it must not be immediately followed by the corresponding character from  ' " ) ] } or >.
  6. An end-string must be separated by at least one character from the start-string.
  7. An unescaped backslash preceding a start-string or end-string will disable markup recognition, except for the end-string of inline literals.

Also remember that inline markup may not be nested (well, except that inline literals can contain any of the other inline markup delimiter characters, but that doesn't count because nothing is processed).

Escaping with Backslashes


reStructuredText uses backslashes ("\") to override the special meaning given to markup characters and get the literal characters themselves. To get a literal backslash, use an escaped backslash ("\\"). For example:

Raw reStructuredText Typical result
*escape* ``with`` "\" escape with ""
\*escape* \``with`` "\\" *escape* ``with`` "\"

In Python strings it will, of course, be necessary to escape any backslash characters so that they actually reach reStructuredText. The simplest way to do this is to use raw strings:

Python string Typical result
r"""\*escape* \`with` "\\"""" *escape* `with` "\"
 """\\*escape* \\`with` "\\\\"""" *escape* `with` "\"
 """\*escape* \`with` "\\"""" escape with ""

Section Structure


Plain text Typical result
Titles are underlined (or over-
and underlined) with a printing
nonalphanumeric 7-bit ASCII
character. Recommended choices
are "``= - ` : ' " ~ ^ _ * + # < >``".
The underline/overline must be at
least as long as the title text.

A lone top-level (sub)section
is lifted up to be the document's


Titles are underlined (or over- and underlined) with a printing nonalphanumeric 7-bit ASCII character. Recommended choices are "= - ` : ' " ~ ^ _ * + # < >". The underline/overline must be at least as long as the title text.

A lone top-level (sub)section is lifted up to be the document's (sub)title.



Plain text Typical result

This is a paragraph.

Paragraphs line up at their left
edges, and are normally separated
by blank lines.

This is a paragraph.

Paragraphs line up at their left edges, and are normally separated by blank lines.

Bullet Lists


Plain text Typical result
Bullet lists:

- This is item 1
- This is item 2

- Bullets are "-", "*" or "+".
  Continuing text must be aligned
  after the bullet and whitespace.

Note that a blank line is required
before the first item and after the
last, but is optional between items.

Bullet lists:
  • This is item 1
  • This is item 2
  • Bullets are "-", "*" or "+". Continuing text must be aligned after the bullet and whitespace.

Note that a blank line is required before the first item and after the last, but is optional between items.

Enumerated Lists


Plain text Typical result
Enumerated lists:

3. This is the first item
4. This is the second item
5. Enumerators are arabic numbers,
   single letters, or roman numerals
6. List items should be sequentially
   numbered, but need not start at 1
   (although not all formatters will
   honour the first index).
#. This item is auto-enumerated

Enumerated lists:
  1. This is the first item
  2. This is the second item
  3. Enumerators are arabic numbers, single letters, or roman numerals
  4. List items should be sequentially numbered, but need not start at 1 (although not all formatters will honour the first index).
  5. This item is auto-enumerated

Definition Lists


Plain text Typical result
Definition lists:

  Definition lists associate a term with
  a definition.

  The term is a one-line phrase, and the
  definition is one or more paragraphs or
  body elements, indented relative to the
  term. Blank lines are not allowed
  between term and definition.
Definition lists:
Definition lists associate a term with a definition.
The term is a one-line phrase, and the definition is one or more paragraphs or body elements, indented relative to the term. Blank lines are not allowed between term and definition.

Field Lists


Plain text Typical result
    Tony J. (Tibs) Ibbs,
    David Goodger

    (and sundry other good-natured folks)

:Version: 1.0 of 2001/08/08
:Dedication: To my father.

Authors: Tony J. (Tibs) Ibbs, David Goodger
(and sundry other good-natured folks)
Version: 1.0 of 2001/08/08
Dedication: To my father.

Field lists are used as part of an extension syntax, such as options for directives, or database-like records meant for further processing. Field lists may also be used as generic two-column table constructs in documents.

Option Lists


Plain text Typical result

-a            command-line option "a"
-b file       options can have arguments
              and long descriptions
--long        options can be long also
--input=file  long options can also have
/V            DOS/VMS-style options too

-a command-line option "a"
-b file options can have arguments and long descriptions
--long options can be long also
--input=file long options can also have arguments
/V DOS/VMS-style options too

There must be at least two spaces between the option and the description.

Literal Blocks


Plain text Typical result
A paragraph containing only two colons
indicates that the following indented
or quoted text is a literal block.


  Whitespace, newlines, blank lines, and
  all kinds of markup (like *this* or
  \this) is preserved by literal blocks.

  The paragraph containing only '::'
  will be omitted from the result.

The ``::`` may be tacked onto the very
end of any paragraph. The ``::`` will be
omitted if it is preceded by whitespace.
The ``::`` will be converted to a single
colon if preceded by text, like this::

  It's very convenient to use this form.

Literal blocks end when text returns to
the preceding paragraph's indentation.
This means that something like this
is possible::

      We start here
    and continue here
  and end here.

Per-line quoting can also be used on
unindented literal blocks::

> Useful for quotes from email and
> for Haskell literate programming.

A paragraph containing only two colons indicates that the following indented or quoted text is a literal block.

Whitespace, newlines, blank lines, and
all kinds of markup (like *this* or
\this) is preserved by literal blocks.

The paragraph containing only '::'
will be omitted from the result.

The :: may be tacked onto the very end of any paragraph. The :: will be omitted if it is preceded by whitespace. The :: will be converted to a single colon if preceded by text, like this:

It's very convenient to use this form.

Literal blocks end when text returns to the preceding paragraph's indentation. This means that something like this is possible:

    We start here
    and continue here
and end here.

Per-line quoting can also be used on unindented literal blocks:

> Useful for quotes from email and
> for Haskell literate programming.

Line Blocks


Plain text Typical result
| Line blocks are useful for addresses,
| verse, and adornment-free lists.
| Each new line begins with a
| vertical bar ("|").
|     Line breaks and initial indents
|     are preserved.
| Continuation lines are wrapped
  portions of long lines; they begin
  with spaces in place of vertical bars.
Line blocks are useful for addresses,
verse, and adornment-free lists.

Each new line begins with a
vertical bar ("|").
Line breaks and initial indents
are preserved.
Continuation lines are wrapped portions of long lines; they begin with spaces in place of vertical bars.

Block Quotes


Plain text Typical result
Block quotes are just:

    Indented paragraphs,

        and they may nest.

Block quotes are just:

Indented paragraphs,

and they may nest.

Use empty comments to separate indentation contexts, such as block quotes and directive contents.

Doctest Blocks


Plain text Typical result

Doctest blocks are interactive
Python sessions. They begin with
"``>>>``" and end with a blank line.

>>> print "This is a doctest block."
This is a doctest block.

Doctest blocks are interactive Python sessions. They begin with ">>>" and end with a blank line.

>>> print "This is a doctest block."
This is a doctest block.

"The doctest module searches a module's docstrings for text that looks like an interactive Python session, then executes all such sessions to verify they still work exactly as shown." (From the doctest docs.)



There are two syntaxes for tables in reStructuredText. Grid tables are complete but cumbersome to create. Simple tables are easy to create but limited (no row spans, etc.).

Plain text Typical result

Grid table:

| Header 1   | Header 2   | Header 3  |
| body row 1 | column 2   | column 3  |
| body row 2 | Cells may span columns.|
| body row 3 | Cells may  | - Cells   |
+------------+ span rows. | - contain |
| body row 4 |            | - blocks. |

Grid table:

Header 1 Header 2 Header 3
body row 1 column 2 column 3
body row 2 Cells may span columns.
body row 3 Cells may
span rows.
  • Cells
  • contain
  • blocks.
body row 4

Simple table:

=====  =====  ======
   Inputs     Output
------------  ------
  A      B    A or B
=====  =====  ======
False  False  False
True   False  True
False  True   True
True   True   True
=====  =====  ======

Simple table:

Inputs Output
A B A or B
False False False
True False True
False True True
True True True



Plain text Typical result

A transition marker is a horizontal line
of 4 or more repeated punctuation


A transition should not begin or end a
section or document, nor should two
transitions be immediately adjacent.

A transition marker is a horizontal line of 4 or more repeated punctuation characters.

A transition should not begin or end a section or document, nor should two transitions be immediately adjacent.

Transitions are commonly seen in novels and short fiction, as a gap spanning one or more lines, marking text divisions or signaling changes in subject, time, point of view, or emphasis.

Explicit Markup

Explicit markup blocks are used for constructs which float (footnotes), have no direct paper-document representation (hyperlink targets, comments), or require specialized processing (directives). They all begin with two periods and whitespace, the "explicit markup start".



Plain text Typical result
Footnote references, like [5]_.
Note that footnotes may get
rearranged, e.g., to the bottom of
the "page".

.. [5] A numerical footnote. Note
   there's no colon after the ``]``.

Footnote references, like 5. Note that footnotes may get rearranged, e.g., to the bottom of the "page".

[5] A numerical footnote. Note there's no colon after the ].
Autonumbered footnotes are
possible, like using [#]_ and [#]_.

.. [#] This is the first one.
.. [#] This is the second one.

They may be assigned 'autonumber
labels' - for instance,
[#fourth]_ and [#third]_.

.. [#third] a.k.a. third_

.. [#fourth] a.k.a. fourth_

Autonumbered footnotes are possible, like using 1 and 2.

They may be assigned 'autonumber labels' - for instance, 4 and 3.

[1] This is the first one.
[2] This is the second one.
[3] a.k.a. third
[4] a.k.a. fourth
Auto-symbol footnotes are also
possible, like this: [*]_ and [*]_.

.. [*] This is the first one.
.. [*] This is the second one.

Auto-symbol footnotes are also possible, like this: * and .

[*] This is the first symbol footnote
[†] This is the second one.

The numbering of auto-numbered footnotes is determined by the order of the footnotes, not of the references. For auto-numbered footnote references without autonumber labels ("[#]_"), the references and footnotes must be in the same relative order. Similarly for auto-symbol footnotes ("[*]_").



Plain text Typical result
Citation references, like [CIT2002]_.
Note that citations may get
rearranged, e.g., to the bottom of
the "page".

.. [CIT2002] A citation
   (as often used in journals).

Citation labels contain alphanumerics,
underlines, hyphens and fullstops.
Case is not significant.

Given a citation like [this]_, one
can also refer to it like this_.

.. [this] here.

Citation references, like [CIT2002]. Note that citations may get rearranged, e.g., to the bottom of the "page".

Citation labels contain alphanumerics, underlines, hyphens and fullstops. Case is not significant.

Given a citation like [this], one can also refer to it like this.

[CIT2002] A citation (as often used in journals).
[this] here.

Hyperlink Targets


External Hyperlink Targets

Plain text Typical result
External hyperlinks, like Python_.

.. _Python: http://www.python.org/

Fold-in form
External hyperlinks, like Python.
Call-out form
External hyperlinks, like Python.

Python: http://www.python.org/

"Fold-in" is the representation typically used in HTML documents (think of the indirect hyperlink being "folded in" like ingredients into a cake), and "call-out" is more suitable for printed documents, where the link needs to be presented explicitly, for example as a footnote. You can force usage of the call-out form by using the "target-notes" directive.

reStructuredText also provides for embedded URIs (details), a convenience at the expense of readability. A hyperlink reference may directly embed a target URI inline, within angle brackets. The following is exactly equivalent to the example above:

Plain text Typical result
External hyperlinks, like `Python
External hyperlinks, like Python.
Internal Hyperlink Targets

Plain text Typical result
Internal crossreferences, like example_.

.. _example:

This is an example crossreference target.

Fold-in form
Internal crossreferences, like example

This is an example crossreference target.

Call-out form
Internal crossreferences, like example

This is an example crossreference target.

Indirect Hyperlink Targets


Plain text Typical result
Python_ is `my favourite
programming language`__.

.. _Python: http://www.python.org/

__ Python_

Python is my favourite programming language.

The second hyperlink target (the line beginning with "__") is both an indirect hyperlink target (indirectly pointing at the Python website via the "Python_" reference) and an anonymous hyperlink target. In the text, a double-underscore suffix is used to indicate an anonymous hyperlink reference. In an anonymous hyperlink target, the reference text is not repeated. This is useful for references with long text or throw-away references, but the target should be kept close to the reference to prevent them going out of sync.

Implicit Hyperlink Targets


Section titles, footnotes, and citations automatically generate hyperlink targets (the title text or footnote/citation label is used as the hyperlink name).

Plain text Typical result
Titles are targets, too
Implicit references, like `Titles are
targets, too`_.
Titles are targets, too

Implicit references, like Titles are targets, too.



Directives are a general-purpose extension mechanism, a way of adding support for new constructs without adding new syntax. For a description of all standard directives, see reStructuredText Directives.

Plain text Typical result
For instance:

.. image:: images/nikola.png

For instance:


Substitution References and Definitions


Substitutions are like inline directives, allowing graphics and arbitrary constructs within text.

Plain text Typical result
The |Nikola| static site generator is named after Nikola Tesla.

.. |Nikola| image:: nikola.png

The Nikola static site generator is named after Nikola Tesla.



Any text which begins with an explicit markup start but doesn't use the syntax of any of the constructs above, is a comment.

Plain text Typical result
.. This text will not be shown
   (but, for instance, in HTML might be
   rendered as an HTML comment)
An "empty comment" does not
consume following blocks.
(An empty comment is ".." with
blank lines before and after.)


        So this block is not "lost",
        despite its indentation.

An "empty comment" does not consume following blocks. (An empty comment is ".." with blank lines before and after.)
So this block is not "lost", despite its indentation.

Getting Help

Users who have questions or need assistance with Docutils or reStructuredText should post a message to the Docutils-Users mailing list. The Docutils project web site has more information.

Authors: Tibs (tibs@tibsnjoan.co.uk) and David Goodger (goodger@python.org)

Bootstrap Demo

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4
Heading 5
Heading 6

Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor.

Example body text

Nullam quis risus eget urna mollis ornare vel eu leo. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula.

This line of text is meant to be treated as fine print.

The following snippet of text is rendered as bold text.

The following snippet of text is rendered as italicized text.

An abbreviation of the word attribute is attr.

Emphasis classes

Fusce dapibus, tellus ac cursus commodo, tortor mauris nibh.

Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.

Etiam porta sem malesuada magna mollis euismod.

Donec ullamcorper nulla non metus auctor fringilla.

Duis mollis, est non commodo luctus, nisi erat porttitor ligula.

Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna.


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer posuere erat a ante.

Someone famous in Source Title

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer posuere erat a ante.

Someone famous in Source Title
# Column heading Column heading Column heading
1 Column content Column content Column content
2 Column content Column content Column content
3 Column content Column content Column content
4 Column content Column content Column content
5 Column content Column content Column content
6 Column content Column content Column content
7 Column content Column content Column content
A longer block of help text that breaks onto a new line and may extend beyond one line.


Raw denim you probably haven't heard of them jean shorts Austin. Nesciunt tofu stumptown aliqua, retro synth master cleanse. Mustache cliche tempor, williamsburg carles vegan helvetica. Reprehenderit butcher retro keffiyeh dreamcatcher synth. Cosby sweater eu banh mi, qui irure terry richardson ex squid. Aliquip placeat salvia cillum iphone. Seitan aliquip quis cardigan american apparel, butcher voluptate nisi qui.

Food truck fixie locavore, accusamus mcsweeney's marfa nulla single-origin coffee squid. Exercitation +1 labore velit, blog sartorial PBR leggings next level wes anderson artisan four loko farm-to-table craft beer twee. Qui photo booth letterpress, commodo enim craft beer mlkshk aliquip jean shorts ullamco ad vinyl cillum PBR. Homo nostrud organic, assumenda labore aesthetic magna delectus mollit.




Best check yo self, you're not looking too good. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Praesent commodo cursus magna, vel scelerisque nisl consectetur et.

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Contextual alternatives





This is a simple hero unit, a simple jumbotron-style component for calling extra attention to featured content or information.

Learn more

List groups


Basic panel
Panel heading
Panel content
Panel content

Panel primary

Panel content

Panel success

Panel content

Panel warning

Panel content

Panel danger

Panel content

Panel info

Panel content


Look, I'm in a well!
Look, I'm in a small well!
Look, I'm in a large well!

Extending Nikola


Roberto Alsina <ralsina@netmanagers.com.ar>

Nikola is extensible. Almost all its functionality is based on plugins, and you can add your own or replace the provided ones.

Plugins consist of a metadata file (with .plugin extension) and a Python module (a .py file) or package (a folder containing a __init__.py file.

To use a plugin in your site, you just have to put it in a plugins folder in your site.

Plugins come in various flavours, aimed at extending different aspects of Nikola.

Command Plugins

When you run nikola --help you will see something like this:

$ nikola help
Nikola is a tool to create static websites and blogs. For full documentation and more
information, please visit https://getnikola.com/

Available commands:
nikola auto                 automatically detect site changes, rebuild
                            and optionally refresh a browser
nikola bootswatch_theme     given a swatch name from bootswatch.com and a
                            parent theme, creates a custom theme
nikola build                run tasks
nikola check                check links and files in the generated site
nikola clean                clean action / remove targets
nikola console              start an interactive python console with access to
                            your site and configuration
nikola deploy               deploy the site
nikola dumpdb               dump dependency DB
nikola forget               clear successful run status from internal DB
nikola help                 show help
nikola ignore               ignore task (skip) on subsequent runs
nikola import_blogger       import a blogger dump
nikola import_feed          import a RSS/Atom dump
nikola import_wordpress     import a WordPress dump
nikola init                 create a Nikola site in the specified folder
nikola list                 list tasks from dodo file
nikola mincss               apply mincss to the generated site
nikola new_post             create a new blog post or site page
nikola run                  run tasks
nikola serve                start the test webserver
nikola strace               use strace to list file_deps and targets
nikola theme                manage themes
nikola version              print the Nikola version number

nikola help                 show help / reference
nikola help <command>       show command usage
nikola help <task-name>     show task usage

That will give you a list of all available commands in your version of Nikola. Each and every one of those is a plugin. Let's look at a typical example:

First, the serve.plugin file:

Name = serve
Module = serve

Author = Roberto Alsina
Version = 0.1
Website = https://getnikola.com
Description = Start test server.


If you want to publish your plugin on the Plugin Index, read the docs for the Index (and the .plugin file examples and explanations).

For your own plugin, just change the values in a sensible way. The Module will be used to find the matching Python module, in this case serve.py, from which this is the interesting bit:

from nikola.plugin_categories import Command

# You have to inherit Command for this to be a
# command plugin:

class CommandServe(Command):
    """Start test server."""

    name = "serve"
    doc_usage = "[options]"
    doc_purpose = "start the test webserver"

    cmd_options = (
            'name': 'port',
            'short': 'p',
            'long': 'port',
            'default': 8000,
            'type': int,
            'help': 'Port number (default: 8000)',
            'name': 'address',
            'short': 'a',
            'long': '--address',
            'type': str,
            'default': '',
            'help': 'Address to bind (default:',

    def _execute(self, options, args):
        """Start test server."""
        out_dir = self.site.config['OUTPUT_FOLDER']
        if not os.path.isdir(out_dir):
            print("Error: Missing '{0}' folder?".format(out_dir))
            httpd = HTTPServer((options['address'], options['port']),
            sa = httpd.socket.getsockname()
            print("Serving HTTP on", sa[0], "port", sa[1], "...")

As mentioned above, a plugin can have options, which the user can see by doing nikola help command and can later use, for example:

$ nikola help serve
Purpose: start the test webserver
Usage:   nikola serve [options]

-p ARG, --port=ARG        Port number (default: 8000)
-a ARG, ----address=ARG   Address to bind (default:

$ nikola serve -p 9000
Serving HTTP on port 9000 ...

So, what can you do with commands? Well, anything you want, really. I have implemented a sort of planet using it. So, be creative, and if you do something interesting, let me know ;-)

TemplateSystem Plugins

Nikola supports Mako and Jinja2. If you prefer some other templating system, then you will have to write a TemplateSystem plugin. Here's how they work. First, you have to create a .plugin file. Here's the one for the Mako plugin:

Name = mako
Module = mako

Author = Roberto Alsina
Version = 0.1
Website = https://getnikola.com
Description = Support for Mako templates.


If you want to publish your plugin on the Plugin Index, read the docs for the Index (and the .plugin file examples and explanations).

You will have to replace "mako" with your template system's name, and other data in the obvious ways.

The "Module" option is the name of the module, which has to look something like this, a stub for a hypothetical system called "Templater":

from nikola.plugin_categories import TemplateSystem

# You have to inherit TemplateSystem

class TemplaterTemplates(TemplateSystem):
    """Wrapper for Templater templates."""

    # name has to match Name in the .plugin file
    name = "templater"

    # A list of directories where the templates will be
    # located. Most template systems have some sort of
    # template loading tool that can use this.
    def set_directories(self, directories, cache_folder):
        """Sets the list of folders where templates are located and cache."""

    # You *must* implement this, even if to return []
    # It should return a list of all the files that,
    # when changed, may affect the template's output.
    # usually this involves template inheritance and
    # inclusion.
    def template_deps(self, template_name):
        """Returns filenames which are dependencies for a template."""
        return []

    def render_template(self, template_name, output_name, context):
        """Renders template to a file using context.

        This must save the data to output_name *and* return it
        so that the caller may do additional processing.

    # The method that does the actual rendering.
    # template_name is the name of the template file,
    # context is a dictionary containing the data the template
    # uses for rendering.
    def render_template_to_string(self, template, context):
        """Renders template to a string using context. """

    def inject_directory(self, directory):
        """Injects the directory with the lowest priority in the
        template search mechanism."""

You can see a real example in the Jinja plugin

Task Plugins

If you want to do something that depends on the data in your site, you probably want to do a Task plugin, which will make it be part of the nikola build command. These are the currently available tasks, all provided by plugins:

$ nikola list
Scanning posts....done!

These have access to the site object which contains your timeline and your configuration.

The critical bit of Task plugins is their gen_tasks method, which yields doit tasks.

The details of how to handle dependencies, etc., are a bit too much for this document, so I'll just leave you with an example, the copy_assets task. First the task_copy_assets.plugin file, which you should copy and edit in the logical ways:

Name = copy_assets
Module = task_copy_assets

Author = Roberto Alsina
Version = 0.1
Website = https://getnikola.com
Description = Copy theme assets into output.


If you want to publish your plugin on the Plugin Index, read the docs for the Index (and the .plugin file examples and explanations).

And the task_copy_assets.py file, in its entirety:

import os

from nikola.plugin_categories import Task
from nikola import utils

# Have to inherit Task to be a task plugin
class CopyAssets(Task):
    """Copy theme assets into output."""

    name = "copy_assets"

    # This yields the tasks
    def gen_tasks(self):
        """Create tasks to copy the assets of the whole theme chain.

        If a file is present on two themes, use the version
        from the "youngest" theme.

        # I put all the configurations and data the plugin uses
        # in a dictionary because utils.config_changed will
        # make it so that if these change, this task will be
        # marked out of date, and run again.

        kw = {
            "themes": self.site.THEMES,
            "output_folder": self.site.config['OUTPUT_FOLDER'],
            "filters": self.site.config['FILTERS'],

        tasks = {}
        for theme_name in kw['themes']:
            src = os.path.join(utils.get_theme_path(theme_name), 'assets')
            dst = os.path.join(kw['output_folder'], 'assets')
            for task in utils.copy_tree(src, dst):
                if task['name'] in tasks:
                tasks[task['name']] = task
                task['uptodate'] = task.get('uptodate', []) + \
                task['basename'] = self.name
                # If your task generates files, please do this.
                yield utils.apply_filters(task, kw['filters'])

PageCompiler Plugins

These plugins implement markup languages, they take sources for posts or pages and create HTML or other output files. A good example is the misaka plugin or the built-in compiler plugins.

They must provide:


Function that builds a file.


Function that creates an empty file with some metadata in it.

If the compiler produces something other than HTML files, it should also implement extension which returns the preferred extension for the output file.

These plugins can also be used to extract metadata from a file. To do so, the plugin must set supports_metadata to True and implement read_metadata that will return a dict containing the metadata contained in the file. Optionally, it may list metadata_conditions (see MetadataExtractor Plugins below)

MetadataExtractor Plugins

Plugins that extract metadata from posts. If they are based on post content, they must implement _extract_metadata_from_text (takes source of a post returns a dict of metadata). They may also implement split_metadata_from_text, extract_text. If they are based on filenames, they only need extract_filename. If support_write is set to True, write_metadata must be implemented.

Every extractor must be configured properly. The name, source (from the MetaSource enum in metadata_extractors) and priority (MetaPriority) fields are mandatory. There might also be a list of conditions (tuples of MetaCondition, arg), used to check if an extractor can provide metadata, a compiled regular expression used to split metadata (split_metadata_re, may be None, used by default split_metadata_from_text), a list of requirements (3-tuples: import name, pip name, friendly name), map_from (name of METADATA_MAPPING to use, if any) and supports_write (whether the extractor supports writing metadata in the desired format).

For more details, see the definition in plugin_categories.py and default extractors in metadata_extractors.py.

RestExtension Plugins

Implement directives for reStructuredText, see media.py for a simple example.

If your output depends on a config value, you need to make your post record a dependency on a pseudo-path, like this:


Then, whenever the OPTIONNAME option is changed in conf.py, the file will be rebuilt.

If your directive depends or may depend on the whole timeline (like the post-list directive, where adding new posts to the site could make it stale), you should record a dependency on the pseudo-path ####MAGIC####TIMELINE.

MarkdownExtension Plugins

Implement Markdown extensions, see mdx_nikola.py for a simple example.

Note that Python markdown extensions are often also available as separate packages. This is only meant to ship extensions along with Nikola.

SignalHandler Plugins

These plugins extend the SignalHandler class and connect to one or more signals via blinker.

The easiest way to do this is to reimplement set_site() and just connect to whatever signals you want there.

Currently Nikola emits the following signals:


Right after SignalHandler plugin activation.


When all tasks are loaded.


When all the configuration file is processed. Note that plugins are activated before this is emitted.


After posts are scanned.

new_post / new_page

When a new post is created, using the nikola new_post/nikola new_page commands. The signal data contains the path of the file, and the metadata file (if there is one).

existing_post / existing_page

When a new post fails to be created due to a title conflict. Contains the same data as new_post.


When the nikola deploy command is run, and there is at least one new entry/post since last_deploy. The signal data is of the form:

 'last_deploy: # datetime object for the last deployed time,
 'new_deploy': # datetime object for the current deployed time,
 'clean': # whether there was a record of a last deployment,
 'deployed': # all files deployed after the last deploy,
 'undeployed': # all files not deployed since they are either future posts/drafts

When a post/page is compiled from its source to html, before anything else is done with it. The signal data is in the form:

 'source': # the path to the source file
 'dest': # the path to the cache file for the post/page
 'post': # the Post object for the post/page

One example is the deploy_hooks plugin.

ConfigPlugin Plugins

Does nothing specific, can be used to modify the site object (and thus the config).

Put all the magic you want in set_site(), and don’t forget to run the one from super(). Example plugin: navstories

PostScanner Plugins

Get posts and pages from "somewhere" to be added to the timeline. The only currently existing plugin of this kind reads them from disk.

Plugin Index

There is a plugin index, which stores all of the plugins for Nikola people wanted to share with the world.

You may want to read the README for the Index if you want to publish your package there.

Template Hooks

Plugins can use a hook system for adding stuff into templates. In order to use it, a plugin must register itself. The following hooks currently exist:

  • extra_head (not equal to the config option!)

  • body_end (not equal to the config option!)

  • page_header

  • menu

  • menu_alt (right-side menu in bootstrap, after menu in base)

  • page_footer

For example, in order to register a script into extra_head:

# In set_site
site.template_hooks['extra_head'].append('<script src="/assets/js/fancyplugin.js">')

There is also another API available. It allows use of dynamically generated HTML:

# In set_site
def generate_html_bit(name, ftype='js'):
    """Generate HTML for an asset."""
    return '<script src="/assets/{t}/{n}.{t}">'.format(n=name, t=ftype)

site.template_hooks['extra_head'].append(generate_html_bit, False, 'fancyplugin', ftype='js')

The second argument to append() is used to determine whether the function needs access to the current template context and the site. If it is set to True, the function will also receive site and context keyword arguments. Example use:

# In set_site
def greeting(addr, endswith='', site=None, context=None):
    """Greet someone."""
    if context['lang'] == 'en':
        greet = u'Hello'
    elif context['lang'] == 'es':
        greet = u'¡Hola'

    t = u' BLOG_TITLE = {0}'.format(site.config['BLOG_TITLE'](context['lang']))

    return u'<h3>{greet} {addr}{endswith}</h3>'.format(greet=greet, addr=addr,
    endswith=endswith) + t

site.template_hooks['page_header'].append(greeting, True, u'Nikola Tesla', endswith=u'!')

Dependencies for template hooks:

  • if the input is a string, the string value, alongside arguments to append, is used for calculating dependencies

  • if the input is a callable, it attempts input.template_registry_identifier, then input.__doc__, and if neither is available, it uses a static string.

Make sure to provide at least a docstring, or a identifier, to ensure rebuilds work properly.


Some (hopefully all) markup compilers support shortcodes in these forms:

{{% foo %}}  # No arguments
    {{% foo bar %}}  # One argument, containing "bar"
    {{% foo bar baz=bat %}}  # Two arguments, one containing "bar", one called "baz" containing "bat"

    {{% foo %}}Some text{{% /foo %}}  # one argument called "data" containing "Some text"

So, if you are creating a plugin that generates markup, it may be a good idea to register it as a shortcode in addition of to restructured text directive or markdown extension, thus making it available to all markup formats.

To implement your own shortcodes from a plugin, you can create a plugin inheriting ShortcodePlugin and from its set_site method, call

Nikola.register_shortcode(name, func) with the following arguments:


Name of the shortcode ("foo" in the examples above)


A function that will handle the shortcode

The shortcode handler must return a two-element tuple, (output, dependencies)


The text that will replace the shortcode in the document.


A list of all the files on disk which will make the output be considered out of date. For example, if the shortcode uses a template, it should be the path to the template file.

The shortcode handler must accept the following named arguments (or variable keyword arguments):


An instance of the Nikola class, to access site state


If the shortcut is used as opening/closing tags, it will be the text between them, otherwise None.


The current language.

If the shortcode tag has arguments of the form foo=bar they will be passed as named arguments. Everything else will be passed as positional arguments in the function call.

So, for example:

{{% foo bar baz=bat beep %}}Some text{{% /foo %}}

Assuming you registered foo_handler as the handler function for the shortcode named foo, this will result in the following call when the above shortcode is encountered:

foo_handler("bar", "beep", baz="bat", data="Some text", site=whatever)

Template-based Shortcodes

Another way to define a new shortcode is to add a template file to the shortcodes directory of your site. The template file must have the shortcode name as the basename and the extension .tmpl. For example, if you want to add a new shortcode named foo, create the template file as shortcodes/foo.tmpl.

When the shortcode is encountered, the matching template will be rendered with its context provided by the arguments given in the shortcode. Keyword arguments are passed directly, i.e. the key becomes the variable name in the template namespace with a matching string value. Non-keyword arguments are passed as string values in a tuple named _args. As for normal shortcodes with a handler function, site and data will be added to the keyword arguments.


The following shortcode:

{{% foo bar="baz" spam %}}

With a template in shortcodes/foo.tmpl with this content (using Jinja2 syntax in this example)

<div class="{{ _args[0] if _args else 'ham' }}">{{ bar }}</div>

Will result in this output

<div class="spam">baz</div>

State and Cache

Sometimes your plugins will need to cache things to speed up further actions. Here are the conventions for that:

  • If it's a file, put it somewhere in self.site.config['CACHE_FOLDER'] (defaults to cache/.

  • If it's a value, use self.site.cache.set(key, value) to set it and self.site.cache.get(key) to get it. The key should be a string, the value should be json-encodable (so, be careful with datetime objects)

The values and files you store there can and will be deleted sometimes by the user. They should always be things you can reconstruct without lossage. They are throwaways.

On the other hand, sometimes you want to save something that is not a throwaway. These are things that may change the output, so the user should not delete them. We call that state. To save state:

  • If it's a file, put it somewhere in the working directory. Try not to do that please.

  • If it's a value, use self.site.state.set(key, value) to set it and self.state.cache.get(key) to get it. The key should be a string, the value should be json-encodable (so, be careful with datetime objects)

The cache and state objects are rather simplistic, and that's intentional. They have no default values: if the key is not there, you will get None and like it. They are meant to be both threadsafe, but hey, who can guarantee that sort of thing?

There are no sections, and no access protection, so let's not use it to store passwords and such. Use responsibly.

Nikola Internals

When trying to guide someone into adding a feature in Nikola, it hit me that while the way it's structured makes sense to me it is far from obvious.

So, this is a short document explaining what each piece of Nikola does and how it all fits together.

Nikola is a Pile of Plugins

Most of Nikola is implemented as plugins using Yapsy. You can ignore that they are plugins and just think of them as regular python modules and packages with a funny little .plugin file next to them.

So, 90% of the time, what you want to do is either write a new plugin or extend an existing one.

There are several kinds of plugins, all implementing interfaces defined in nikola/plugin_categories.py and documented in Extending Nikola

If your plugin has a dependency, please make sure it doesn't make Nikola throw an exception when the dependency is missing. Try to fail gracefully with an informative message.

Commands are plugins

When you use nikola foo you are using the plugin command/foo. Those are used to extend Nikola's command line. Their interface is defined in the Command class. They take options and arguments and do whatever you want, so go wild.

The build command is special

The build command triggers a whole lot of things, and is the core of Nikola because it's the one that you use to build sites. So it deserves its own section.

The Build Command

Nikola's goal is similar, deep at heart, to a Makefile. Take sources, compile them into something, in this case a website. Instead of a Makefile, Nikola uses doit

Doit has the concept of "tasks". The 1 minute summary of tasks is that they have:


What the task does. For example, convert a markdown document into HTML.


If this file changes, then we need to redo the actions. If this configuration option changes, redo it, etc.


Files that the action generates. No two actions can have the same targets.


Each task is identified by either a name or a basename:name pair.

So, what Nikola does, when you use the build command, is to read the configuration conf.py from the current folder, instantiate the Nikola class, and have it generate a whole list of tasks for doit to process. Then doit will decide which tasks need doing, and do them, in the right order.

The place where the tasks are generated is in Nikola.gen_tasks, which collects tasks from all the plugins inheriting BaseTask, massages them a bit, then passes them to doit.

So, if you want things to happen on build you want to create a Task plugin, or extend one of the existing ones.

Posts and Pages

Nikola has a concept of posts and pages. Both are more or less the same thing, except posts are added into RSS feeds and pages are not. All of them are in a list called "the timeline" formed by objects of class Post.

When you are creating a task that needs the list of posts and/or pages (for example, the RSS creation plugin) on task execution time, your plugin should call self.site.scan_posts() in gen_tasks to ensure the timeline is created and available in self.site.timeline. You should not modify the timeline, because it will cause consistency issues.

Your plugin can use the timeline to generate "stuff" (technical term). For example, Nikola comes with plugins that use the timeline to create a website (surprised?).

The workflow included with nikola is as follows (incomplete!):

  1. The post is assigned a compiler based on its extension and the COMPILERS option.

  2. The compiler is applied to the post data and a "HTML fragment" is produced. That fragment is stored in a cache (the posts plugin).

  3. The configured theme has templates (and a template engine), which are applied to the post's HTML fragment and metadata (the pages plugin).

  4. The original sources for the post are copied to some accessible place (the sources plugin).

  5. If the post is tagged, some pages and RSS feeds for each tag are updated (the tags plugin).

  6. If the post is new, it's included in the blog's RSS feed (the rss plugin).

  7. The post is added in the right place in the index pages for the blog (the indexes plugin).

  8. CSS/JS/Images for the theme are put in the right places (the copy_assets and bundles plugins).

  9. A File describing the whole site is created (the sitemap plugin).

You can add whatever you want to that list: just create a plugin for it.

You can also expand Nikola's capabilities at several points:


Nikola supports a variety of markups. If you want to add another one, you need to create a Compiler plugin.


Nikola's themes can use Jinja2 or Mako templates. If you prefer another template system, you have to create a TemplateSystem plugin.


To change how the generated site looks, you can create custom themes.

And of course, you can also replace or extend each of the existing plugins.

Nikola Architecture


The Nikola Handbook



All You Need to Know

After you have Nikola installed:

Create an empty site (with a setup wizard):

nikola init mysite

You can create a site with demo files in it with nikola init --demo mysite

The rest of these commands have to be executed inside the new mysite folder.

Create a post:

nikola new_post

Edit the post:

The filename should be in the output of the previous command. You can also use nikola new_post -e to open an editor automatically.

Build the site:

nikola build

Start the test server and open a browser:

nikola serve -b

That should get you going. If you want to know more, this manual will always be here for you.


On the other hand, if anything about Nikola is not as obvious as it should be, by all means tell me about it :-)

What's Nikola and what can you do with it?

Nikola is a static website and blog generator. The very short explanation is that it takes some texts you wrote, and uses them to create a folder full of HTML files. If you upload that folder to a server, you will have a rather full-featured website, done with little effort.

Its original goal is to create blogs, but it supports most kind of sites, and can be used as a CMS, as long as what you present to the user is your own content instead of something the user generates.

Nikola can do:

  • A blog (example)

  • Your company's site

  • Your personal site

  • A software project's site (example)

  • A book's site

Since Nikola-based sites don't run any code on the server, there is no way to process user input in forms.

Nikola can't do:

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • An Issue tracker

  • Anything with forms, really (except for comments!)

Keep in mind that "static" doesn't mean boring. You can have animations or whatever fancy CSS3/HTML5 thingie you like. It only means all that HTML is generated already before being uploaded. On the other hand, Nikola sites will tend to be content-heavy. What Nikola is good at is at putting what you write out there.

Getting Help

Get help here!


Why Static?

Most "modern" websites are dynamic in the sense that the contents of the site live in a database, and are converted into presentation-ready HTML only when a user wants to see the page. That's great. However, it presents some minor issues that static site generators try to solve.

In a static site, the whole site, every page, everything, is created before the first user even sees it and uploaded to the server as a simple folder full of HTML files (and images, CSS, etc).

So, let's see some reasons for using static sites:


Dynamic sites are prone to experience security issues. The solution for that is constant vigilance, keeping the software behind the site updated, and plain old good luck. The stack of software used to provide a static site, like those Nikola generates, is much smaller (Just a web server).

A smaller software stack implies less security risk.


If you create a site using (for example) WordPress, what happens when WordPress releases a new version? You have to update your WordPress. That is not optional, because of security and support issues. If I release a new version of Nikola, and you don't update, nothing happens. You can continue to use the version you have now forever, no problems.

Also, in the longer term, the very foundations of dynamic sites shift. Can you still deploy a blog software based on Django 0.96? What happens when your host stops supporting the PHP version you rely on? And so on.

You may say those are long term issues, or that they won't matter for years. Well, I believe things should work forever, or as close to it as we can make them. Nikola's static output and its input files will work as long as you can install Python 3.4 or newer under Linux, Windows, or OS X and can find a server that sends files over HTTP. That's probably 10 or 15 years at least.

Also, static sites are easily handled by the Internet Archive.

Cost and Performance

On dynamic sites, every time a reader wants a page, a whole lot of database queries are made. Then a whole pile of code chews that data, and HTML is produced, which is sent to the user. All that requires CPU and memory.

On a static site, the highly optimized HTTP server reads the file from disk (or, if it's a popular file, from disk cache), and sends it to the user. You could probably serve a bazillion (technical term) page views from a phone using static sites.


On server-side blog platforms, sometimes you can't export your own data, or it's in strange formats you can't use in other services. I have switched blogging platforms from Advogato to PyCs to two homebrew systems, to Nikola, and have never lost a file, a URL, or a comment. That's because I have always had my own data in a format of my choice.

With Nikola, you own your files, and you can do anything with them.


Nikola provides the following features:

  • Blog support, including:

    • Indexes

    • RSS and Atom feeds

    • Tags and categories, with pages and feeds

    • Author pages and feeds (not generated if ENABLE_AUTHOR_PAGES is set to False or there is only one author)

    • Archives with custom granularity (yearly or monthly)

    • Comments

  • Static pages (not part of the blog)

  • Math rendering (via MathJax)

  • Custom output paths for generated pages

  • Pretty URLs (without .html) that don’t need web server support

  • Easy page template customization

  • Internationalization support (my own blog is English and Spanish)

  • Sitemap generation (for search engines)

  • Custom deployment (if it’s a command, you can use it)

  • GitHub Pages deployment

  • Themes, easy appearance customization

  • Multiple input formats, including reStructuredText and Markdown

  • Easy-to-create image galleries

  • Image thumbnail generation

  • Support for displaying source code listings

  • Custom search

  • Asset (CSS/JS) bundling

  • gzip compression (for sending via your web server)

  • Open Graph, Twitter Cards

  • Hyphenation

  • Custom post processing filters (eg. for minifying files or better typography)

Getting Started

To set Nikola up and create your first site, read the Getting Started Guide.

Creating a Blog Post

To create a new post, the easiest way is to run nikola new_post. You will be asked for a title for your post, and it will tell you where the post's file is located.

By default, that file will contain also some extra information about your post ("the metadata"). It can be placed in a separate file by using the -2 option, but it's generally easier to keep it in a single location.

The contents of your post have to be written (by default) in reStructuredText but you can use a lot of different markups using the -f option.

Currently, Nikola supports reStructuredText, Markdown, Jupyter Notebooks, HTML as input, can also use Pandoc for conversion, and has support for BBCode, CreoleWiki, txt2tags, Textile and more via plugins — for more details, read the input format documentation. You can learn reStructuredText syntax with the reST quickstart.

Please note that Nikola does not support encodings other than UTF-8. Make sure to convert your input files to that encoding to avoid issues. It will prevent bugs, and Nikola will write UTF-8 output anyway.

You can control what markup compiler is used for each file extension with the COMPILERS option. The default configuration expects them to be placed in posts but that can be changed (see below, the POSTS and PAGES options)

This is how it works:

$ nikola new_post
Creating New Post

Title: How to make money
Scanning posts....done!
INFO: new_post: Your post's text is at: posts/how-to-make-money.rst

The content of that file is as follows:

.. title: How to make money
.. slug: how-to-make-money
.. date: 2012-09-15 19:52:05 UTC
.. tags:
.. link:
.. description:
.. type: text

Write your post here.

You can edit these files with your favorite text editor, and once you are happy with the contents, generate the pages using nikola build.

The post page is generated by default using the post.tmpl template, which you can use to customize the output. You can also customize paths and the template filename itself — see How does Nikola decide where posts should go?

Metadata fields

Nikola supports many metadata fields in posts. All of them are translatable and almost all are optional.



Title of the post. (required)


Slug of the post. Used as the last component of the page URL. We recommend and default to using a restricted character set (a-z0-9-_) because other symbols may cause issues in URLs. (required)


Date of the post, defaults to now. Multiple date formats are accepted. Adding a timezone is recommended. (required for posts)


Comma-separated tags of the post.


Can be set to published (default), featured, draft, or private.


If set to true or yes, MathJax resp. KaTeX support is enabled for this post.


Like tags, except each post can have only one, and they usually have more descriptive names.


String used as GUID in RSS feeds and as ID in Atom feeds instead of the permalink.


Link to original source for content. May be displayed by some themes.


Description of the post. Used in <meta> tags for SEO.


Type of the post. See Post Types for details. Whatever you set here (prepended with post-) will become a CSS class of the <article> element for this post. Defaults to text (resulting in a post-text class)



Author of the post, will be used in the RSS feed and possibly in the post display (theme-dependent)


Add an enclosure to this post when it's used in RSS. See more information about enclosures


Path to an external data file (JSON/YAML/TOML dictionary), relative to conf.py. Its keys are available for templates as post.data('key').

Translated posts can have different values for this field, and the correct one will be used.

See The Global Context and Data files for more details. This is especially useful used in combination with shortcodes.


See the Post Processing Filters section.


Set "True" if you do not want to see the page title as a heading of the output html file (does not work for posts).


Set "True" if you want this document to be hyphenated even if you have hyphenation disabled by default.


Set to "True" to disable comments. Example:


Set to "False" to disable pretty URL for this page. Example:


Designate a preview or other representative image path relative to BASE_URL for use with Open Graph for posts. Adds the image when sharing on social media, feeds, and many other uses.

.. previewimage: /images/looks_great_on_facebook.png

The image can be of any size and dimension (services will crop and adapt) but should less than 1 MB and be larger than 300x300 (ideally 600x600).

This image is displayed by bootblog4 for featured posts (see Featured Posts for details).


Change the template used to render this page/post specific page. That template needs to either be part of the theme, or be placed in a templates/ folder inside your site.

.. template: foobar.tmpl

The last time this post was updated, defaults to the post’s date metadata value. It is not displayed by default in most themes, including the defaults — you can use post.formatted_updated(date_format) (and perhaps check if post.updated != post.date) in your post template to show it.

To add these metadata fields to all new posts by default, you can set the variable ADDITIONAL_METADATA in your configuration. For example, you can add the author metadata to all new posts by default, by adding the following to your configuration:

    'author': 'John Doe'

Change the URL_TYPE setting for the given page only. Useful for eg. error pages which cannot use relative URLs.

.. url_type: full_path

Metadata formats

Metadata can be in different formats. Current Nikola versions experimentally supports other metadata formats that make it more compatible with other static site generators. The currently supported metadata formats are:

  • reST-style comments (.. name: value — default format)

  • Two-file format (reST-style, YAML, TOML)

  • Jupyter Notebook metadata

  • YAML, between --- (Jekyll, Hugo)

  • TOML, between +++ (Hugo)

  • reST docinfo (Pelican)

  • Markdown metadata extension (Pelican)

  • HTML meta tags (Pelican)

You can add arbitrary meta fields in any format.

When you create new posts, by default the metadata will be created as reST style comments. If you prefer a different format, you can set the METADATA_FORMAT to one of these values:

  • "Nikola": reST comments, wrapped in a HTML comment if needed (default)

  • "YAML": YAML wrapped in "---"

  • "TOML": TOML wrapped in "+++"

  • "Pelican": Native markdown metadata or reST docinfo fields. Nikola style for other formats.

reST-style comments

The “traditional” and default meta field format is:

.. name: value

If you are not using reStructuredText, make sure the fields are in a HTML comment in output.

Also, note that this format does not support any multi-line values. Try YAML or reST docinfo if you need those.

Two-file format

Meta information can also be specified in separate .meta files. Those support reST-style metadata, with names and custom fields. They look like the beginning of our reST files:

.. title: How to make money
.. slug: how-to-make-money
.. date: 2012-09-15 19:52:05 UTC

You can also use YAML or TOML metadata inside those (with the appropriate markers).

Jupyter Notebook metadata

Jupyter posts can store meta information inside .ipynb files by using the nikola key inside notebook metadata. It can be edited by using Edit → Edit Notebook Metadata in Jupyter. Note that values are currently only strings. Sample metadata (Jupyter-specific information omitted):

    "nikola": {
        "title": "How to make money",
        "slug": "how-to-make-money",
        "date": "2012-09-15 19:52:05 UTC"

YAML metadata

YAML metadata should be wrapped by a --- separator (three dashes) and in that case, the usual YAML syntax is used:

title: How to make money
slug: how-to-make-money
date: 2012-09-15 19:52:05 UTC

TOML metadata

TOML metadata should be wrapped by a "+++" separator (three plus signs) and in that case, the usual TOML syntax is used:

title = "How to make money"
slug =  "how-to-make-money"
date = "2012-09-15 19:52:05 UTC"

reST docinfo

Nikola can extract metadata from reStructuredText docinfo fields and the document itself, too:

How to make money

:slug: how-to-make-money
:date: 2012-09-15 19:52:05 UTC

To do this, you need USE_REST_DOCINFO_METADATA = True in your conf.py, and Nikola will hide the docinfo fields in the output if you set HIDE_REST_DOCINFO = True.


Keys are converted to lowercase automatically.

This setting also means that the first heading in a post will be removed and considered a title. This is important if you’re mixing metadata styles. This can be solved by putting a reST comment before your title.

Markdown metadata

Markdown Metadata only works in Markdown files, and requires the markdown.extensions.meta extension (see MARKDOWN_EXTENSIONS). The exact format is described in the markdown metadata extension docs.

title: How to make money
slug: how-to-make-money
date: 2012-09-15 19:52:05 UTC

Note that keys are converted to lowercase automatically.

HTML meta tags

For HTML source files, metadata will be extracted from meta tags, and the title from the title tag. Following Pelican's behaviour, tags can be put in a "tags" meta tag or in a "keywords" meta tag. Example:

        <title>My super title</title>
        <meta name="tags" content="thats, awesome" />
        <meta name="date" content="2012-07-09 22:28" />
        <meta name="modified" content="2012-07-10 20:14" />
        <meta name="category" content="yeah" />
        <meta name="authors" content="Conan Doyle" />
        <meta name="summary" content="Short version for index and feeds" />
        This is the content of my super blog post.

Mapping metadata from other formats

If you import posts from other engines, those may not work with Nikola out of the box due to differing names. However, you can create a mapping to convert meta field names from those formats into what Nikola expects.

For Pelican, use:

    "rest_docinfo": {"summary": "description", "modified": "updated"},
    "markdown_metadata": {"summary": "description", "modified": "updated"}
    "html_metadata": {"summary": "description", "modified": "updated"}

For Hugo, use:

    "yaml": {"lastmod": "updated"},
    "toml": {"lastmod": "updated"}

The following source names are supported: yaml, toml, rest_docinfo, markdown_metadata.

Additionally, you can use METADATA_VALUE_MAPPING to perform any extra conversions on metadata for all posts of a given format (nikola metadata is also supported). A few examples:

    "yaml": {"keywords": lambda value: ', '.join(value)},  # yaml: 'keywords' list -> str
    "nikola": {
        "widgets": lambda value: value.split(', '),  # nikola: 'widgets' comma-separated string -> list
        "tags": str.lower  # nikola: force lowercase 'tags' (input would be string)

Multilingual posts

If you are writing a multilingual site, you can also create a per-language post file (for example: how-to-make-money.es.txt with the default TRANSLATIONS_PATTERN, see below). This one can replace metadata of the default language, for example:

  • The translated title for the post or page

  • A translated version of the page name

The pattern used for finding translations is controlled by the TRANSLATIONS_PATTERN variable in your configuration file.

The default is to put the language code before the file extension, so the German translation of some_file.rst should be named some_file.de.rst. This is because the TRANSLATIONS_PATTERN variable is by default set to:

TRANSLATIONS_PATTERN = "{path}.{lang}.{ext}"

Considered languages

Nikola will only look for translation of input files for languages specified in the TRANSLATIONS variable.

In case you translate your posts, you might also want to adjust various other settings so that the generated URLs match the translation. You can find most places in conf.py by searching for (translatable). For example, you might want to localize /categories/ (search for TAG_PATH), /pages/ and /posts/ (search for POSTS and PAGES, or see the next section), or how to adjust the URLs for subsequent pages for indexes (search for INDEXES_PRETTY_PAGE_URL).

Nikola supports multiple languages for a post (we have almost 50 translations!). If you wish to add support for more languages, check out the Transifex page for Nikola

How does Nikola decide where posts should go?

The place where the post will be placed by new_post (the first one that matches the given format) and the final post destination (the first one that matches a given file) is based on the POSTS and PAGES configuration options. The exact mechanism is explained above the config options in the conf.py file, and also reproduced below:

# POSTS and PAGES contains (wildcard, destination, template) tuples.
# The wildcard is used to generate a list of post source files
# (whatever/thing.rst, for example).
# That fragment could have an associated metadata file (whatever/thing.meta),
# and optionally translated files (example for Spanish, with code "es"):
#     whatever/thing.es.rst and whatever/thing.es.meta
#     This assumes you use the default TRANSLATIONS_PATTERN.
# From those files, a set of HTML fragment files will be generated:
# cache/whatever/thing.html (and maybe cache/whatever/thing.html.es)
# These files are combined with the template to produce rendered
# pages, which will be placed at
# output/TRANSLATIONS[lang]/destination/pagename.html
# where "pagename" is the "slug" specified in the metadata file.
# The page might also be placed in /destination/pagename/index.html
# if PRETTY_URLS are enabled.
# The difference between POSTS and PAGES is that POSTS are added
# to feeds, indexes, tag lists and archives and are considered part
# of a blog, while PAGES are just independent HTML pages.
# Finally, note that destination can be translated, i.e. you can
# specify a different translation folder per language. Example:
#     PAGES = (
#         ("pages/*.rst", {"en": "pages", "de": "seiten"}, "page.tmpl"),
#         ("pages/*.md", {"en": "pages", "de": "seiten"}, "page.tmpl"),
#     )

    ("posts/*.rst", "posts", "post.tmpl"),
    ("posts/*.txt", "posts", "post.tmpl"),
    ("posts/*.html", "posts", "post.tmpl"),
    ("pages/*.rst", "pages", "page.tmpl"),
    ("pages/*.txt", "pages", "page.tmpl"),
    ("pages/*.html", "pages", "page.tmpl"),

POSTS and PAGES are not flat!

Even if the syntax may suggest you can't, you can create any directory structure you want inside posts/ or pages/ and it will be reflected in the output. For example, posts/foo/bar.txt would produce output/posts/foo/bar.html, assuming the slug is also bar.

If you have PRETTY_URLS enabled, that would be output/posts/foo/bar/index.html.


Removing the .rst entries is not recommended. Some features (eg. shortcodes) may not work properly if you do that.

The new_post command

new_post will use the first path in POSTS (or PAGES if -p is supplied) that ends with the extension of your desired markup format (as defined in COMPILERS in conf.py) as the directory that the new post will be written into. If no such entry can be found, the post won’t be created.

The new_post command supports some options:

$ nikola help new_post
Purpose: create a new blog post or site page
Usage:   nikola new_post [options] [path]

  -p, --page                Create a page instead of a blog post. (see also: `nikola new_page`)
  -t ARG, --title=ARG       Title for the post.
  -a ARG, --author=ARG      Author of the post.
  --tags=ARG                Comma-separated tags for the post.
  -1                        Create the post with embedded metadata (single file format)
  -2                        Create the post with separate metadata (two file format)
  -e                        Open the post (and meta file, if any) in $EDITOR after creation.
  -f ARG, --format=ARG      Markup format for the post (use --available-formats for list)
  -F, --available-formats   List all available input formats
  -s                        Schedule the post based on recurrence rule
  -i ARG, --import=ARG      Import an existing file instead of creating a placeholder
  -d, --date-path           Create post with date path (eg. year/month/day, see NEW_POST_DATE_PATH_FORMAT in config)

The optional path parameter tells Nikola exactly where to put it instead of guessing from your config. So, if you do nikola new_post posts/random/foo.txt you will have a post in that path, with "foo" as its slug. You can also provide a directory name, in which case Nikola will append the file name for you (generated from title).

The -d, --date-path option automates creation of year/month/day or similar directory structures. It can be enabled on a per-post basis, or you can use it for every post if you set NEW_POST_DATE_PATH = True in conf.py.

# Use date-based path when creating posts?
# Can be enabled on a per-post basis with `nikola new_post -d`.

# What format to use when creating posts with date paths?
# Default is '%Y/%m/%d', other possibilities include '%Y' or '%Y/%m'.


You may not want to show the complete content of your posts either on your index page or in RSS feeds, but to display instead only the beginning of them.

If it's the case, you only need to add a "magical comment" TEASER_END or END_TEASER in your post.

In reStructuredText:


In Markdown (or basically, the resulting HTML of any format):

<!-- TEASER_END -->

By default all your RSS feeds will be shortened (they'll contain only teasers) whereas your index page will still show complete posts. You can change this behavior with your conf.py: INDEX_TEASERS defines whether index page should display the whole contents or only teasers. FEED_TEASERS works the same way for your Atom and RSS feeds.

By default, teasers will include a "read more" link at the end. If you want to change that text, you can use a custom teaser:

.. TEASER_END: click to read the rest of the article

You can override the default value for TEASER_END in conf.py — for example, the following example will work for .. more, and will be compatible with both WordPress and Nikola posts:

import re
TEASER_REGEXP = re.compile('<!--\s*(more|TEASER_END|END_TEASER)(:(.+))?\s*-->', re.IGNORECASE)

Or you can completely customize the link using the READ_MORE_LINK option.

# A HTML fragment with the Read more... link.
# The following tags exist and are replaced for you:
# {link}        A link to the full post page.
# {read_more}   The string “Read more” in the current language.
# {{            A literal { (U+007B LEFT CURLY BRACKET)
# }}            A literal } (U+007D RIGHT CURLY BRACKET)
# READ_MORE_LINK = '<p class="more"><a href="{link}">{read_more}…</a></p>'


If you set the status metadata field of a post to draft, it will not be shown in indexes and feeds. It will be compiled, and if you deploy it it will be made available, so use with care. If you wish your drafts to be not available in your deployed site, you can set DEPLOY_DRAFTS = False in your configuration. This will not work if lazily include nikola build in your DEPLOY_COMMANDS.

Also if a post has a date in the future, it will not be shown in indexes until you rebuild after that date. This behavior can be disabled by setting FUTURE_IS_NOW = True in your configuration, which will make future posts be published immediately. Posts dated in the future are not deployed by default (when FUTURE_IS_NOW = False). To make future posts available in the deployed site, you can set DEPLOY_FUTURE = True in your configuration. Generally, you want FUTURE_IS_NOW and DEPLOY_FUTURE to be the same value.

Private Posts

If you set the status metadata field of a post to private, it will not be shown in indexes and feeds. It will be compiled, and if you deploy it it will be made available, so it will not generate 404s for people who had linked to it.

Queuing Posts

Some blogs tend to have new posts based on a schedule (for example, every Mon, Wed, Fri) but the blog authors don't like to manually schedule their posts. You can schedule your blog posts based on a rule, by specifying a rule in the SCHEDULE_RULE in your configuration. You can either post specific blog posts according to this schedule by using the --schedule flag on the new_post command or post all new posts according to this schedule by setting SCHEDULE_ALL = True in your configuration. (Note: This feature requires that the FUTURE_IS_NOW setting is set to False)

For example, if you would like to schedule your posts to be on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am, add the following SCHEDULE_RULE to your configuration:


For more details on how to specify a recurrence rule, look at the iCal specification. Or if you are scared of this format, many calendaring applications (eg. Google Calendar) offer iCal exports, so you can copy-paste the repeat rule from a generated iCal (.ics) file (which is a human-readable text file).

Say, you get a free Sunday, and want to write a flurry of new posts, or at least posts for the rest of the week, you would run the new_post command with the --schedule flag, as many times as you want:

$ nikola new_post --schedule
# Creates a new post to be posted on Monday, 7am.
$ nikola new_post -s
# Creates a new post to be posted on Wednesday, 7am.
$ nikola new_post -s
# Creates a new post to be posted on Friday, 7am.

All these posts get queued up according to your schedule, but note that you will anyway need to build and deploy your site for the posts to appear online. You can have a cron job that does this regularly.

Post Types

Nikola supports specifying post types, just like Tumblr does. Post types affect the look of your posts, by adding a post-YOURINPUTHERE CSS class to the post. Each post can have one and exactly one type. Nikola styles the following types in the default themes:





plain text — default value



“small” (short) posts

big serif font


All your posts that are not drafts, private or dated in the future, will be shown in indexes.


Indexes are put in the INDEX_PATH directory, which defaults to an empty string (site root). The “main” index is index.html, and all the further indexes are index-*.html, respectively.

By default, 10 posts are displayed on an index page. This can be changed with INDEX_DISPLAY_POST_COUNT. Indexes can show full posts or just the teasers, as controlled by the INDEX_TEASERS setting (defaults to False).

Titles of the pages can be controlled by using INDEXES_TITLES, INDEXES_PAGES and INDEXES_PAGES_MAIN settings.

Categories and tags use simple lists by default that show only titles and dates; however, you can switch them to full indexes by using CATEGORY_PAGES_ARE_INDEXES and TAG_PAGES_ARE_INDEXES, respectively.

Something similar happens with authors. To use full indexes in authors, set AUTHOR_PAGES_ARE_INDEXES to True.

Static indexes

Nikola uses static indexes by default. This means that index-1.html has the oldest posts, and the newest posts past the first 10 are in index-N.html, where N is the highest number. Only the page with the highest number and the main page (index-N.html and index.html) are rebuilt (the others remain unchanged). The page that appears when you click Older posts on the index page, index-N.html, might contain less than 10 posts if there are not enough posts to fill up all pages.

This can be disabled by setting INDEXES_STATIC to False. In that mode, index-1.html contains all the newest posts past the first 10 and will always contain 10 posts (unless you have less than 20). The last page, index-N.html, contains the oldest posts, and might contain less than 10 posts. This is how many blog engines and CMSes behave. Note that this will lead to rebuilding all index pages, which might be a problem for larger blogs (with a lot of index pages).

Post taxonomy

There are two taxonomy systems in Nikola, or two ways to organize posts. Those are tags and categories. They are visible on the Tags and Categories page, by default available at /categories/. Each tag/category has an index page and feeds.


Tags are the smallest and most basic of the taxonomy items. A post can have multiple tags, specified using the tags metadata entry (comma-separated). You should provide many tags to help your readers, and perhaps search engines, find content on your site.

Please note that tags are case-sensitive and that you cannot have two tags that differ only in case/punctuation (eg. using nikola in one post and Nikola in another will lead to a crash):

ERROR: Nikola: You have tags that are too similar: Nikola and nikola
ERROR: Nikola: Tag Nikola is used in: posts/second-post.rst
ERROR: Nikola: Tag nikola is used in: posts/1.rst

You can also generate a tag cloud with the tx3_tag_cloud plugin or get a data file for a tag cloud with the tagcloud plugin.


The next unit for organizing your content are categories. A post can have only one category, specified with the category meta tag. They are displayed alongside tags. You can have categories and tags with the same name (categories’ RSS and HTML files are prefixed with cat_ by default).

Categories are handy to organize different parts of your blog, parts that are about different topics. Unlike tags, which you should have tens (hundreds?) of, the list of categories should be shorter.

Nikola v7 used to support a third taxonomy, called sections. Those have been removed, but all the functionality can be recreated by using the CATEGORY_DESTPATH settings.

Configuring tags and categories

There are multiple configuration variables dedicated to each of the two taxonomies. You can set:

  • TAG_PATH, TAGS_INDEX_PATH, CATEGORY_PATH, CATEGORY_PREFIX to configure paths used for tags and categories

  • TAG_TITLES, CATEGORY_TITLES to set titles and descriptions for index pages

  • TAG_DESCRIPTIONS, CATEGORY_DESCRIPTIONS to set descriptions for each of the items


  • TAG_PAGES_ARE_INDEXES and CATEGORY_PAGES_ARE_INDEXES to display full-size indexes instead of simple post lists

  • HIDDEN_TAGS. HIDDEN_CATEGORIES to make some tags/categories invisible in lists

  • CATEGORY_DESTPATH_AS_DEFAULT to use the destination path as the category if none is specified in the post

  • CATEGORY_DESTPATH_TRIM_PREFIX to trim the prefix that comes from POSTS for the destination path

  • CATEGORY_DESTPATH_FIRST_DIRECTORY to only use the first directory name for the defaulted category

  • CATEGORY_DESTPATH_NAMES to specify friendly names for defaulted categories

  • CATEGORY_PAGES_FOLLOW_DESTPATH to put category pages next to their related posts (via destpath)

What if I don’t want a blog?

If you want a static site that does not have any blog-related elements, see our Creating a Site (Not a Blog) with Nikola guide.

Creating a Page

Pages are the same as posts, except that:

  • They are not added to the front page

  • They don't appear on the RSS feed

  • They use the page.tmpl template instead of post.tmpl by default

The default configuration expects the page's metadata and text files to be on the pages folder, but that can be changed (see PAGES option above).

You can create the page's files manually or use the new_post command with the -p option, which will place the files in the folder that has use_in_feed set to False.

In some places (including default directories and templates), pages are called stories for historic reasons. Both are synonyms for the same thing: pages that are not blog posts.

Supported input formats

Nikola supports multiple input formats. Out of the box, we have compilers available for:

  • reStructuredText (default and pre-configured)

  • Markdown

  • Jupyter Notebook

  • HTML

  • PHP

  • anything Pandoc supports (including Textile, DocBook, LaTeX, MediaWiki, TWiki, OPML, Emacs Org-Mode, txt2tags, Microsoft Word .docx, EPUB, Haddock markup)

Plus, we have specialized compilers in the Plugins Index for:

Configuring other input formats

In order to use input formats other than reStructuredText, you need some extra setup.

  1. Make sure you have the compiler for the input format you want. Some input formats are supported out-of-the-box, but others must be installed from the Plugins repository. You may also need some extra dependencies. You will get helpful errors if you try to build when missing something.

  2. You must ensure the compiler and your desired input file extension is included in the COMPILERS dict and does not conflict with any other format. This is extremely important for the pandoc compiler.

  3. Finally, you must configure the POSTS and PAGES tuples. Follow the instructions and the format set by pre-existing entries. Make sure to use the same extension as is set in COMPILERS and configure the outputs properly.


To use Markdown in your posts/pages, make sure markdown is in your COMPILERS and that at least one of your desired extensions is defined in POSTS and PAGES.

You can use Python-Markdown extensions by setting the MARKDOWN_EXTENSIONS config option:

MARKDOWN_EXTENSIONS = ['fenced_code', 'codehilite', 'extra']

Nikola comes with some Markdown Extensions built-in and enabled by default, namely a gist directive, a podcast directive, and ~~strikethrough~~ support.

Jupyter Notebook

To use Jupyter Notebooks as posts/pages, make sure ipynb is in your COMPILERS and that the .ipynb extension is defined in POSTS and PAGES.

The -f argument to new_post should be used in the ipynb@KERNEL format. It defaults to Python in the version used by Nikola if not specified.

Jupyter Notebooks are also supported in stand-alone listings, if Jupyter support is enabled site-wide.


To use plain HTML in your posts/pages, make sure html is in your COMPILERS and that the .html extension is defined in POSTS and PAGES.


There are two ways of using PHP within Nikola:

  1. To use PHP in your posts/pages (inside your site, with the theme and everything), make sure php is in your COMPILERS and that the .php extension is defined in POSTS and PAGES.

  2. To use PHP as standalone files (without any modifications), put them in files/ (or whatever FILES_FOLDERS is configured to).


To use Pandoc, you must uncomment the entry in COMPILERS and set the extensions list to your desired extensions while also removing them from their original compilers. The input format is inferred from the extension by Pandoc.

Using Pandoc for reStructuredText, Markdown and other input formats that have a standalone Nikola plugin is not recommended as it disables plugins and extensions that are usually provided by Nikola.


This feature is "inspired" (copied wholesale) from Hugo so I will steal part of their docs too.

A shortcode is a simple snippet inside a content file that Nikola will render using a predefined template or custom code from a plugin.

To use them from plugins, please see Extending Nikola

Using a shortcode

In your content files, a shortcode can be called by using this form:

{{% name parameters %}}

Shortcode parameters are space delimited. Parameters with spaces can be quoted (or backslash escaped).

The first word is always the name of the shortcode. Parameters follow the name. Depending upon how the shortcode is defined, the parameters may be named, positional or both. The format for named parameters models that of HTML with the format name="value".

Some shortcodes use or require closing shortcodes. Like HTML, the opening and closing shortcodes match (name only), the closing being prepended with a slash.

Example of a paired shortcode (note that we don't have a highlight shortcode yet ;-):

{{% highlight python %}} A bunch of code here {{% /highlight %}}

Shortcodes and reStructuredText

In reStructuredText shortcodes may fail because docutils turns URL into links and everything breaks. For some shortcodes there are alternative docutils directives (example, you can use the media directive instead of the media shortcode.

Also, you can use the shortcode role:

:sc:`{{% shortcode here %}}`

That role passes text unaltered, so shortcodes behave correctly.

Built-in shortcodes


Some of the shortcodes are implemented as bindings to reST directives. In order to use them, you need at least one entry for *.rst in POSTS/PAGES.


Create charts via PyGal. This is similar to the chart directive except the syntax is adapted to shortcodes. This is an example:

{{% chart Bar title='Browser usage evolution (in %)'
x_labels='["2002","2003","2004","2005","2006","2007"]' %}}
        'Firefox', [None, None, 0, 16.6, 25, 31]
        'Chrome',  [None, None, None, None, None, None]
        'IE',      [85.8, 84.6, 84.7, 74.5, 66, 58.6]
        'Others',  [14.2, 15.4, 15.3, 8.9, 9, 10.4]
        {{% /chart %}}

Additionally, you can use a file_data argument which can point to a JSON or YAML file, and will be used for both arguments and data. Example:

    "x_labels": ["2002","2003","2004","2005","2006","2007"],
    "data": {
        "Firefox": [null, null, 0, 16.6, 25, 31],
        "Chrome": [null, null, null, null, null, null],
        "IE": [85.8, 84.6, 84.7, 74.5, 66, 58.6],
        "Others": [14.2, 15.4, 15.3, 8.9, 9, 10.4]

Which can be used like this:

{{% chart Bar title='Browser usage evolution (in %)' data_file="posts/browsers.json" %}}
        {{% /chart %}}

If the data or any option is available in both the data_file and the document, the document has priority.


Will link to a document in the page, see Doc role for details. Example:

Take a look at {{% doc %}}my other post {{% /doc %}} about theme creating.

Insert an emoji. For example:

{{% emoji crying_face %}}

This generates a span with emoji CSS class, so you can style it with a nice font if you want.


Show GitHub gists. If you know the gist's ID, this will show it in your site:

{{% gist 2395294 %}}


Used to show a code listing. Example:

{{% listing hello.py python linenumbers=True %}}

It takes a file name or path, an optional language to highlight, and a linenumbers option to enable/disable line numbers in the output.


Display media embedded from a URL, for example, this will embed a youtube video:

{{% media url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nck6BZga7TQ" %}}

Will show a list of posts, see the Post List directive for details.


Passes the content along, mostly used so I can write this damn section and you can see the shortcodes instead of them being munged into shortcode output. I can't show an example because Inception.


Display image thumbnails, with optional captions. Examples:

{{% thumbnail "/images/foo.png" %}}{{% /thumbnail %}}
{{% thumbnail "/images/foo.png" alt="Foo Image" align="center" %}}{{% /thumbnail %}}
{{% thumbnail "/images/foo.png" imgclass="image-grayscale" figclass="figure-shadow" %}}<p>Image caption</p>{{% /thumbnail %}}
{{% thumbnail "/images/foo.png" alt="Foo Image" title="Insert title-text joke here" align="right" %}}<p class="caption">Foo Image (right-aligned) caption</p>{{% /thumbnail %}}

The following keyword arguments are supported:

  • alt (alt text for image)

  • align (image alignment, left/center/right)

  • linktitle (title text for the link, shown by e.g. baguetteBox)

  • title (title text for image)

  • imgclass (class for image)

  • figclass (class for figure, used only if you provide a caption)

Looks similar to the reST thumbnail directive. Caption should be a HTML fragment.

Community shortcodes

Shortcodes created by the community are available in the shortcodes repository on GitHub.

Template-based shortcodes

If you put a template in shortcodes/ called mycode.tmpl then Nikola will create a shortcode called mycode you can use. Any options you pass to the shortcode will be available as variables for that template. Non-keyword options will be passed in a tuple variable named _args.

The post in which the shortcode is being used is available as the post variable, so you can access the title as post.title, and data loaded via the data field in the metadata using post.data(key).

If you use the shortcode as paired, then the contents between the paired tags will be available in the data variable. If you want to access the Nikola object, it will be available as site. Use with care :-)


Template-based shortcodes use the same template engine as your site’s theme.

See Extending Nikola for detailed information.

For example, if your shortcodes/foo.tmpl contains this:

This uses the bar variable: ${bar}

And your post contains this:

{{% foo bar=bla %}}

Then the output file will contain:

This uses the bar variable: bla

Finally, you can use a template shortcode without a file, by inserting the template in the shortcode itself:

{{% template %}}
% for foo in bar:
% endfor
{{% /template %}}

In that case, the template engine used will be your theme's and the arguments you pass, as well as the global context from your conf.py, are available to the template you are creating.

You can use anything defined in your configuration's GLOBAL_CONTEXT as variables in your shortcode template, with a caveat: Because of an unfortunate implementation detail (a name conflict), data is called global_data when used in a shortcode.

If you have some template code that you want to appear in both a template and shortcode, you can put the shared code in a separate template and import it in both places. Shortcodes can import any template inside templates/ and themes, and call any macros defined in those.

For example, if you define a macro foo(x, y) in templates/shared_sc.tmpl, you can include shared_foo.tmpl in templates/special_post.tmpl and shortcodes/foo.tmpl and then call the ${shared_foo.foo(x, y)} macro.

The Global Context and Data files

There is a GLOBAL_CONTEXT field in your conf.py where you can put things you want to make available to your templates.

It will also contain things you put in a data/ directory within your site. You can use JSON, YAML or TOML files (with the appropriate file extensions: json/js, yaml/yml, toml/tml) that decode to Python dictionaries. For example, if you create data/foo.json containing this:

{"bar": "baz"}

Then your templates can use things like ${data['foo']['bar']} and it will be replaced by "baz".

Individual posts can also have a data file. Those are specified using the data meta field (path relative to conf.py, can be different in different post languages). Those are accessible as eg. ${post.data['bar']} in templates. Template-based shortcodes are a good idea in this case.

Data files can be useful for eg. auto-generated sites, where users provide JSON/YAML/TOML files and Nikola generates a large page with data from all data files. (This is especially useful with some automatic rebuild feature, like those documented in Deployment)

Data files are also available as global_data, to avoid name conflicts in shortcodes. (global_data works everywhere.)


If you need a page to be available in more than one place, you can define redirections in your conf.py:

# A list of redirection tuples, [("foo/from.html", "/bar/to.html")].
# A HTML file will be created in output/foo/from.html that redirects
# to the "/bar/to.html" URL. notice that the "from" side MUST be a
# relative URL.
# If you don't need any of these, just set to []

REDIRECTIONS = [("index.html", "/weblog/index.html")]

It's better if you can do these using your web server's configuration, but if you can't, this will work.


The configuration file is called conf.py and can be used to customize a lot of what Nikola does. Its syntax is python, but if you don't know the language, it still should not be terribly hard to grasp.

The default conf.py you get with Nikola should be fairly complete, and is quite commented.

You surely want to edit these options:

# Data about this site
BLOG_AUTHOR = "Your Name"  # (translatable)
BLOG_TITLE = "Demo Site"  # (translatable)
SITE_URL = "https://getnikola.com/"
BLOG_EMAIL = "joe@demo.site"
BLOG_DESCRIPTION = "This is a demo site for Nikola."  # (translatable)

Some options are marked with a (translatable) comment above or right next to them. For those options, two types of values can be provided:

  • a string, which will be used for all languages

  • a dict of language-value pairs, to have different values in each language


It is possible to load the configuration from another file by specifying --conf=path/to/other.file on Nikola's command line. For example, to build your blog using the configuration file configurations/test.conf.py, you have to execute nikola build --conf=configurations/test.conf.py.

Customizing Your Site

There are lots of things you can do to personalize your website, but let's see the easy ones!

CSS tweaking

Using the default configuration, you can create a assets/css/custom.css file under files/ or in your theme and then it will be loaded from the <head> blocks of your site pages. Create it and put your CSS code there, for minimal disruption of the provided CSS files.

If you feel tempted to touch other files in assets, you probably will be better off with a custom theme.

If you want to use LESS or Sass for your custom CSS, or the theme you use contains LESS or Sass code that you want to override, you will need to install the LESS plugin or SASS plugin create a less or sass directory in your site root, put your .less or .scss files there and a targets file containing the list of files you want compiled.

Template tweaking and creating themes

If you really want to change the pages radically, you will want to do a custom theme.

Navigation Links

The NAVIGATION_LINKS option lets you define what links go in a sidebar or menu (depending on your theme) so you can link to important pages, or to other sites.

The format is a language-indexed dictionary, where each element is a tuple of tuples which are one of:

  1. A (url, text) tuple, describing a link

  2. A (((url, text), (url, text), (url, text)), title) tuple, describing a submenu / sublist.


        ('/archive.html', 'Archives'),
        ('/categories/index.html', 'Tags'),
        ('/rss.xml', 'RSS'),
        ((('/foo', 'FOO'),
          ('/bar', 'BAR')), 'BAZ'),


  1. Support for submenus is theme-dependent. Only one level of submenus is supported.

  2. Some themes, including the default Bootstrap theme, may present issues if the menu is too large. (in Bootstrap, the navbar can grow too large and cover contents.)

  3. If you link to directories, make sure to follow STRIP_INDEXES. If it’s set to True, end your links with a /, otherwise end them with /index.html — or else they won’t be highlighted when active.

There’s also NAVIGATION_ALT_LINKS. Themes may display this somewhere else, or not at all. Bootstrap puts it on the right side of the header.

The SEARCH_FORM option contains the HTML code for a search form based on duckduckgo.com which should always work, but feel free to change it to something else.


CONTENT_FOOTER is displayed, small at the bottom of all pages, I use it for the copyright notice. The default shows a text formed using BLOG_AUTHOR, BLOG_EMAIL, the date and LICENSE. Note you need to use CONTENT_FOOTER_FORMATS instead of regular str.format or %-formatting, for compatibility with the translatable settings feature.


This option lets you define a HTML snippet that will be added at the bottom of body. The main usage is a Google analytics snippet or something similar, but you can really put anything there. Good place for JavaScript.


The SOCIAL_BUTTONS_CODE option lets you define a HTML snippet that will be added at the bottom of body. It defaults to a snippet for AddThis, but you can really put anything there. See social_buttons.html for more details.

Fancy Dates

Nikola can use various styles for presenting dates.


The date format to use if there is no JS or fancy dates are off. Compatible with CLDR syntax.


The date format to use if fancy dates are on. Compatible with moment.js syntax.


Fancy dates are off, and DATE_FORMAT is used.


Dates are recalculated in user’s timezone. Requires JavaScript.


Dates are recalculated as relative time (eg. 2 days ago). Requires JavaScript.

In order to use fancy dates, your theme must support them. The built-in Bootstrap family supports it, but other themes might not by default.

For Mako:

<!-- required scripts -- best handled with bundles -->
<script src="/assets/js/moment-with-locales.min.js"></script>
<script src="/assets/js/fancydates.js"></script>

<!-- fancy dates code -->
fancydates(${date_fanciness}, ${js_date_format});
<!-- end fancy dates code -->

For Jinja2:

<!-- required scripts -- best handled with bundles -->
<script src="/assets/js/moment-with-locales.min.js"></script>
<script src="/assets/js/fancydates.js"></script>

<!-- fancy dates code -->
moment.locale("{{ momentjs_locales[lang] }}");
fancydates({{ date_fanciness }}, {{ js_date_format }});
<!-- end fancy dates code -->

Adding Files

Any files you want to be in output/ but are not generated by Nikola (for example, favicon.ico) should be placed in files/. Remember that you can't have files that collide with files Nikola generates (it will give an error).


Don't put any files manually in output/. Ever. Really. Maybe someday Nikola will just wipe output/ (when you run nikola check -f --clean-files) and then you will be sorry. So, please don't do that.

If you want to copy more than one folder of static files into output you can change the FILES_FOLDERS option:

# One or more folders containing files to be copied as-is into the output.
# The format is a dictionary of "source" "relative destination".
# Default is:
# FILES_FOLDERS = {'files': '' }
# Which means copy 'files' into 'output'

Custom Themes

If you prefer to have a custom appearance for your site, and modifying CSS files and settings (see Customizing Your Site for details) is not enough, you can create your own theme. See the Theming Nikola and Creating a Theme for more details. You can put them in a themes/ folder and set THEME to the directory name. You can also put them in directories listed in the EXTRA_THEMES_DIRS configuration variable.

Getting Extra Themes

There are a few themes for Nikola. They are available at the Themes Index. Nikola has a built-in theme download/install mechanism to install those themes — the theme command:

$ nikola theme -l

$ nikola theme -i blogtxt
[2013-10-12T16:46:13Z] NOTICE: theme: Downloading:
[2013-10-12T16:46:15Z] NOTICE: theme: Extracting: blogtxt into themes

And there you are, you now have themes/blogtxt installed. It's very rudimentary, but it should work in most cases.

If you create a nice theme, please share it! You can do it as a pull request in the GitHub repository.

One other option is to tweak an existing theme using a different color scheme, typography and CSS in general. Nikola provides a subtheme command to create a custom theme by downloading free CSS files from http://bootswatch.com and http://hackerthemes.com

$ nikola subtheme -n custom_theme -s flatly -p bootstrap4
[2013-10-12T16:46:58Z] NOTICE: subtheme: Creating 'custom_theme' theme
from 'flatly' and 'bootstrap4'
[2013-10-12T16:46:58Z] NOTICE: subtheme: Downloading:
[2013-10-12T16:46:58Z] NOTICE: subtheme: Downloading:
[2013-10-12T16:46:59Z] NOTICE: subtheme: Theme created. Change the THEME setting to "custom_theme" to use it.

Play with it, there's cool stuff there. This feature was suggested by clodo.


If you can specify your deployment procedure as a series of commands, you can put them in the DEPLOY_COMMANDS option, and run them with nikola deploy.

You can have multiple deployment presets. If you run nikola deploy, the default preset is executed. You can also specify the names of presets you want to run (eg. nikola deploy default, multiple presets are allowed).

One caveat is that if any command has a % in it, you should double them.

Here is an example, from my own site's deployment script:

DEPLOY_COMMANDS = {'default': [
    'rsync -rav --delete output/ ralsina@lateral.netmanagers.com.ar:/srv/www/lateral',
    'rdiff-backup output ~/blog-backup',
    "links -dump 'http://www.twingly.com/ping2?url=lateral.netmanagers.com.ar'",

Other interesting ideas are using git as a deployment mechanism (or any other VCS for that matter), using lftp mirror or unison, or Dropbox. Any way you can think of to copy files from one place to another is good enough.

Deploying to GitHub

Nikola provides a separate command github_deploy to deploy your site to GitHub Pages. The command builds the site, commits the output to a gh-pages branch and pushes the output to GitHub. Nikola uses the ghp-import command for this.

In order to use this feature, you need to configure a few things first. Make sure you have nikola and git installed on your PATH.

  1. Initialize a Nikola site, if you haven’t already.

  2. Initialize a git repository in your Nikola source directory by running:

    git init .
    git remote add origin git@github.com:user/repository.git
  3. Setup branches and remotes in conf.py:

    • GITHUB_DEPLOY_BRANCH is the branch where Nikola-generated HTML files will be deployed. It should be gh-pages for project pages and master for user pages (user.github.io).

    • GITHUB_SOURCE_BRANCH is the branch where your Nikola site source will be deployed. We recommend and default to src.

    • GITHUB_REMOTE_NAME is the remote to which changes are pushed.

    • GITHUB_COMMIT_SOURCE controls whether or not the source branch is automatically committed to and pushed. We recommend setting it to True, unless you are automating builds with Travis CI.

  4. Create a .gitignore file. We recommend adding at least the following entries:

  5. If you set GITHUB_COMMIT_SOURCE to False, you must switch to your source branch and commit to it. Otherwise, this is done for you.

  6. Run nikola github_deploy. This will build the site, commit the output folder to your deploy branch, and push to GitHub. Your website should be up and running within a few minutes.

If you want to use a custom domain, create your CNAME file in files/CNAME on the source branch. Nikola will copy it to the output directory. To add a custom commit message, use the -m option, followed by your message.

Automated rebuilds with Travis CI

If you want automated rebuilds and GitHub Pages deployment, allowing you to blog from anywhere in the world, follow this guide: Automating Nikola rebuilds with Travis CI.

Automated rebuilds with GitLab

GitLab also offers rebuild automation if you want to use Nikola with GitLab Pages. Check out the example Nikola site on GitLab.


While Nikola creates static sites, there is a minimum level of user interaction you are probably expecting: comments.

Nikola supports several third party comment systems:

By default it will use DISQUS, but you can change by setting COMMENT_SYSTEM to one of "disqus", "intensedebate", "livefyre", "moot", "facebook", "isso" or "commento"

To use comments in a visible site, you should register with the service and then set the COMMENT_SYSTEM_ID option.

I recommend 3rd party comments, and specially DISQUS because:

  1. It doesn't require any server-side software on your site

  2. They offer you a way to export your comments, so you can take them with you if you need to.

  3. It's free.

  4. It's damn nice.

You can disable comments for a post by adding a "nocomments" metadata field to it:

.. nocomments: True

DISQUS Support

In some cases, when you run the test site, you won't see the comments. That can be fixed by adding the disqus_developer flag to the templates but it's probably more trouble than it's worth.

Moot Support

Moot doesn't support comment counts on index pages, and it requires adding this to your conf.py:

BODY_END = """
<script src="//cdn.moot.it/1/moot.min.js"></script>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="//cdn.moot.it/1/moot.css">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width">
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge,chrome=1">

Facebook Support

You need jQuery, but not because Facebook wants it (see Issue #639).

Images and Galleries

To create an image gallery, all you have to do is add a folder inside galleries, and put images there. Nikola will take care of creating thumbnails, index page, etc.

If you click on images on a gallery, or on images with links in post, you will see a bigger image, thanks to the excellent baguetteBox. If don’t want this behavior, add an .islink class to your link. (The behavior is caused by <a class="reference"> if you need to use it outside of galleries and reST thumbnails.)

The gallery pages are generated using the gallery.tmpl template, and you can customize it there (you could switch to another lightbox instead of baguetteBox, change its settings, change the layout, etc.).

Images in galleries may be provided with captions and given a specific ordering, by creating a file in the gallery directory called metadata.yml. This YAML file should contain a name field for each image in the gallery for which you wish to provide either a caption or specific ordering. You can also create localized versions (metadata.xx.yml).

Only one metadata.yml is needed per gallery. Here is an example, showing names, captions and ordering. caption and order are given special treatment, anything else is available to templates, as keys of photo_array images.

name: ready-for-the-acid-wash.jpg
name: almost-full.jpg
caption: The pool is now almost full
name: jumping-in.jpg
caption: We're enjoying the new pool already
order: 4
name: waterline-tiles.jpg
order: 2
custom: metadata is supported

Images to be used in normal posts can be placed in the images folder. These images will be processed and have thumbnails created just as for galleries, but will then be copied directly to the corresponding path in the output directory, so you can reference it from whatever page you like, most easily using the thumbnail reST extension. If you don't want thumbnails, just use the files folder instead.

The conf.py options affecting images and gallery pages are these:

# One or more folders containing galleries. The format is a dictionary of
# {"source": "relative_destination"}, where galleries are looked for in
# "source/" and the results will be located in
# "OUTPUT_PATH/relative_destination/gallery_name"
# Default is:
GALLERY_FOLDERS = {"galleries": "galleries"}
# More gallery options:

# If set to False, it will sort by filename instead. Defaults to True

# Folders containing images to be used in normal posts or pages.
# IMAGE_FOLDERS is a dictionary of the form {"source": "destination"},
# where "source" is the folder containing the images to be published, and
# "destination" is the folder under OUTPUT_PATH containing the images copied
# to the site. Thumbnail images will be created there as well.
IMAGE_FOLDERS = {'images': 'images'}

# Images will be scaled down according to IMAGE_THUMBNAIL_SIZE and MAX_IMAGE_SIZE
# options, but will have to be referenced manually to be visible on the site
# (the thumbnail has ``.thumbnail`` added before the file extension by default,
# but a different naming template can be configured with IMAGE_THUMBNAIL_FORMAT).
IMAGE_THUMBNAIL_FORMAT = '{name}.thumbnail{ext}'

If you add a reST file in galleries/gallery_name/index.txt its contents will be converted to HTML and inserted above the images in the gallery page. The format is the same as for posts.

If you add some image filenames in galleries/gallery_name/exclude.meta, they will be excluded in the gallery page.

If USE_FILENAME_AS_TITLE is True the filename (parsed as a readable string) is used as the photo caption. If the filename starts with a number, it will be stripped. For example 03_an_amazing_sunrise.jpg will be render as An amazing sunrise.

Here is a demo gallery of historic, public domain Nikola Tesla pictures taken from this site.

Embedding Images

Assuming that you have your pictures stored in a folder called images (as configured above), you can embed the same in your posts with the following reST directive:

.. image:: /images/tesla.jpg

Which is equivalent to the following HTML code:

<img src="/images/tesla.jpg">

Please take note of the leading forward-slash / which refers to the root output directory. (Make sure to use this even if you’re not deploying to web server root.)

You can also use thumbnails with the .. thumbnail:: reST directive. For more details, and equivalent HTML code, see Thumbnails.

Handling EXIF Data

Your images contain a certain amount of extra data besides the image itself, called the EXIF metadata. It contains information about the camera you used to take the picture, when it was taken, and maybe even the location where it was taken.

This is both useful, because you can use it in some apps to locate all the pictures taken in a certain place, or with a certain camera, but also, since the pictures Nikola publishes are visible to anyone on the Internet, a privacy risk worth considering (Imagine if you post pictures taken at home with GPS info, you are publishing your home address!)

Nikola has some support for managing it, so let's go through a few scenarios to see which one you prefer.

Strip all EXIF data

Do this if you want to be absolutely sure that no sensitive information should ever leak:


Preserve all EXIF data

Do this if you really don't mind people knowing where pictures were taken, or camera settings:

EXIF_WHITELIST = {'*': '*'}

Preserve some EXIF data

Do this if you really know what you are doing. EXIF data comes separated in a few IFD blocks. The most common ones are:


Information about the image itself


Information about the camera and the image


Information about embedded thumbnails (usually nothing)


An embedded thumbnail, in JPEG format (usually nothing)


Geolocation information about the image


Not too interesting at this point.

Each IFD in turn contains a number of tags. For example, 0th contains a ImageWidth tag. You can tell Nikola exactly which IFDs to keep, and within each IFD, which tags to keep, using the EXIF_WHITELIST option.

Let's see an example:

    "0th": ["Orientation", "ImageWidth", "ImageLength"],
    "Interop": "*",

So, we preserve EXIF data, and the whitelisted IFDs are "0th" and "Interop". That means GPS, for example, will be totally deleted.

Then, for the Interop IFD, we keep everything, and for the 0th IFD we only keep three tags, listed there.

There is a huge number of EXIF tags, described in the standard

Handling ICC Profiles

Your images may contain ICC profiles. These describe the color space in which the images were created or captured.

Most desktop web browsers can use embedded ICC profiles to display images accurately. As of early 2018 few mobile browsers consider ICC profiles when displaying images. A notable exception is Safari on iOS.

By default Nikola strips out ICC profiles when preparing images for your posts and galleries. If you want Nikola to preserve ICC profiles, add this in your conf.py:


You may wish to do this if, for example, your site contains JPEG images that use a wide-gamut profile such as "Display P3".

Post Processing Filters

You can apply post processing to the files in your site, in order to optimize them or change them in arbitrary ways. For example, you may want to compress all CSS and JS files using yui-compressor.

To do that, you can use the provided helper adding this in your conf.py:

  ".css": ["filters.yui_compressor"],
  ".js": ["filters.yui_compressor"],

Where "filters.yui_compressor" points to a helper function provided by Nikola in the filters module. You can replace that with strings describing command lines, or arbitrary python functions.

If there's any specific thing you expect to be generally useful as a filter, contact me and I will add it to the filters library so that more people use it.

The currently available filters are:


Prettify HTML 5 documents with tidy5


Prettify HTML 5 documents wrapped at 80 characters with tidy5


Prettify HTML 5 documents and wrap lines and attributes with tidy5


Minify HTML 5 into smaller documents with tidy5


Run tidy5 with tidy5.conf as the config file (supplied by user)


Minify HTML5 using html5lib_minify


Format using html5lib


Improve typography using typogrify


Same as typogrify without the widont filter


THIS FILTER HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A NOOP and currently does nothing.


Pass HTML through LXML to normalize it. For example, it will resolve &quot; to actual quotes. Usually not needed.


Compress CSS/JavaScript using YUI compressor


Compile, compress, and optimize JavaScript Google Closure Compiler


Compress PNG files using optipng


Compress JPEG files using jpegoptim


Minify CSS using http://cssminifier.com/ (requires Internet access)


Minify JS using http://javascript-minifier.com/ (requires Internet access)


Minify JSON files (strip whitespace and use minimal separators).


Minify XML files. Suitable for Nikola’s sitemaps and Atom feeds.


Add links next to every header, Sphinx-style. You will need to add styling for the headerlink class, in custom.css, for example:

/* Header permalinks */
h1:hover .headerlink, h2:hover .headerlink,
h3:hover .headerlink, h4:hover .headerlink,
h5:hover .headerlink, h6:hover .headerlink {
    display: inline;

.headerlink {
    display: none;
    color: #ddd;
    margin-left: 0.2em;
    padding: 0 0.2em;

.headerlink:hover {
    opacity: 1;
    background: #ddd;
    color: #000;
    text-decoration: none;

Additionally, you can provide a custom list of XPath expressions which should be used for finding headers ({hx} is replaced by headers h1 through h6). This is required if you use a custom theme that does not use "e-content entry-content" as a class for post and page contents.

# Default value:
HEADER_PERMALINKS_XPATH_LIST = ['*//div[@class="e-content entry-content"]//{hx}']
# Include *every* header (not recommended):

Prevent duplicated IDs in HTML output. An incrementing counter is added to offending IDs. If used alongside add_header_permalinks, it will fix those links (it must run after that filter)

IDs are numbered from the bottom up, which is useful for indexes (updates appear at the top). There are exceptions, which may be configured using DEDUPLICATE_IDS_TOP_CLASSES — if any of those classes appears sin the document, the IDs are rewritten top-down, which is useful for posts/pages (updates appear at the bottom).

Note that in rare cases, permalinks might not always be permanent in case of edits.

  DEDUPLICATE_IDS_TOP_CLASSES = ('postpage', 'storypage')

You can also use a file blacklist (``HEADER_PERMALINKS_FILE_BLACKLIST``),
useful for some index pages. Paths include the output directory (eg.

You can apply filters to specific posts or pages by using the filters metadata field:

.. filters: filters.html_tidy_nowrap, "sed s/foo/bar"

Optimizing Your Website

One of the main goals of Nikola is to make your site fast and light. So here are a few tips we have found when setting up Nikola with Apache. If you have more, or different ones, or about other web servers, please share!

  1. Use a speed testing tool. I used Yahoo's YSlow but you can use any of them, and it's probably a good idea to use more than one.

  2. Enable compression in Apache:

    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/plain text/xml text/css text/javascript
  3. If even after you did the previous step the CSS files are not sent compressed:

    AddType text/css .css
  4. Optionally you can create static compressed copies and save some CPU on your server with the GZIP_FILES option in Nikola.

  5. The bundles Nikola plugin can drastically decrease the number of CSS and JS files your site fetches.

  6. Through the filters feature, you can run your files through arbitrary commands, so that images are recompressed, JavaScript is minimized, etc.

  7. The USE_CDN option offloads standard JavaScript and CSS files to a CDN so they are not downloaded from your server.


Nikola supports math input via MathJax (by default) or KaTeX. It is activated via the math roles and directives of reStructuredText and the usual LaTeX delimiters for other input formats.


Nikola uses MathJax by default. If you want to use KaTeX (faster and prettier, but may not support every feature yet), set USE_KATEX = True in conf.py.

To use mathematics in a post, you must set the has_math metadata field to true. (Exception: posts that are Jupyter Notebooks are automatically marked as math)

By default, Nikola will accept \​(...\​) for inline math; \​[...\​] and $​$...$​$ for display math. If you want to use the old $...$ syntax as well (which may conflict with running text!), you need to use special config for your renderer:

<script type="text/x-mathjax-config">
    tex2jax: {
        inlineMath: [ ['$','$'], ["\\\(","\\\)"] ],
        displayMath: [ ['$$','$$'], ["\\\[","\\\]"] ],
        processEscapes: true
    displayAlign: 'center', // Change this to 'left' if you want left-aligned equations.
    "HTML-CSS": {
        styles: {'.MathJax_Display': {"margin": 0}}

delimiters: [
    {left: "$$", right: "$$", display: true},
    {left: "\\\[", right: "\\\]", display: true},
    {left: "$", right: "$", display: false},
    {left: "\\\(", right: "\\\)", display: false}

(Note: the previous paragraph uses invisible characters to prevent rendering TeX for display, so don’t copy the examples with three dots to your posts)

Inline usage

Inline mathematics are produced using the reST math role or the LaTeX backslash-parentheses delimiters:

Euler’s formula: \(e^{ix} = \cos x + i\sin x\)

In reST:

Euler’s formula: :math:`e^{ix} = \cos x + i\sin x`

In HTML and other input formats:

Euler’s formula: \(e^{ix} = \cos x + i\sin x\)

Note that some input formats (including Markdown) require using double backslashes in the delimiters (\\(inline math\\)). Please check your output first before reporting bugs.

Display usage

Display mathematics are produced using the reST math directive or the LaTeX backslash-brackets delimiters:

\begin{equation*} \int \frac{dx}{1+ax}=\frac{1}{a}\ln(1+ax)+C \end{equation*}

In reST:

.. math::

   \int \frac{dx}{1+ax}=\frac{1}{a}\ln(1+ax)+C

In HTML and other input formats:

\[\int \frac{dx}{1+ax}=\frac{1}{a}\ln(1+ax)+C\]

Note that some input formats (including Markdown) require using double backslashes in the delimiters (\\[display math\\]). Please check your output first before reporting bugs.

reStructuredText Extensions

Nikola includes support for a few directives and roles that are not part of docutils, but which we think are handy for website development.


Nikola supports the standard reStructuredText include directive, but with a catch: filenames are relative to Nikola site root (directory with conf.py) instead of the post location (eg. posts/ directory)!


This directive lets you embed media from a variety of sites automatically by just passing the URL of the page. For example here are two random videos:

.. media:: http://vimeo.com/72425090

.. media:: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyRpAat5oz0

It supports Instagram, Flickr, Github gists, Funny or Die, and dozens more, thanks to Micawber


To link to a YouTube video, you need the id of the video. For example, if the URL of the video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N_tupPBtWQ what you need is 8N_tupPBtWQ

Once you have that, all you need to do is:

.. youtube:: 8N_tupPBtWQ

Supported options: height, width, align (one of left, center, right) — all are optional. Example:

.. youtube:: 8N_tupPBtWQ
   :align: center


To link to a Vimeo video, you need the id of the video. For example, if the URL of the video is http://www.vimeo.com/20241459 then the id is 20241459

Once you have that, all you need to do is:

.. vimeo:: 20241459

If you have internet connectivity when generating your site, the height and width of the embedded player will be set to the native height and width of the video. You can override this if you wish:

.. vimeo:: 20241459
   :height: 240
   :width: 320

Supported options: height, width, align (one of left, center, right) — all are optional.


This directive lets you share music from http://soundcloud.com You first need to get the ID for the piece, which you can find in the "share" link. For example, if the WordPress code starts like this:

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/78131362" …/]

The ID is 78131362 and you can embed the audio with this:

.. soundcloud:: 78131362

You can also embed playlists, via the soundcloud_playlist directive which works the same way.

Supported options: height, width, align (one of left, center, right) — all are optional.


The code directive has been included in docutils since version 0.9 and now replaces Nikola's code-block directive. To ease the transition, two aliases for code directive are provided: code-block and sourcecode:

.. code-block:: python

   print("Our virtues and our failings are inseparable")


To use this, you have to put your source code files inside listings or whatever folders your LISTINGS_FOLDERS variable is set to fetch files from. Assuming you have a foo.py inside one of these folders:

.. listing:: foo.py python

Will include the source code from foo.py, highlight its syntax in python mode, and also create a listings/foo.py.html page (or in another directory, depending on LISTINGS_FOLDER) and the listing will have a title linking to it.

The stand-alone listings/ pages also support Jupyter notebooks, if they are supported site-wide.

Listings support the same options reST includes support (including various options for controlling which parts of the file are included), and also a linenos option for Sphinx compatibility.

The LISTINGS_FOLDER configuration variable allows to specify a list of folders where to fetch listings from together with subfolder of the output folder where the processed listings should be put in. The default is, LISTINGS_FOLDERS = {'listings': 'listings'}, which means that all source code files in listings will be taken and stored in output/listings. Extending LISTINGS_FOLDERS to {'listings': 'listings', 'code': 'formatted-code'} will additionally process all source code files in code and put the results into output/formatted-code.


Formerly, start-at and end-at options were supported; however, they do not work anymore (since v6.1.0) and you should now use start-after and end-before, respectively. You can also use start-line and end-line.


You can easily embed GitHub gists with this directive, like this:

.. gist:: 2395294

Producing this:

This degrades gracefully if the browser doesn't support JavaScript.


To include an image placed in the images folder (or other folders defined in IMAGE_FOLDERS), use the thumbnail directive, like this:

.. thumbnail:: /images/tesla.jpg
   :alt: Nikola Tesla

The small thumbnail will be placed in the page, and it will be linked to the bigger version of the image when clicked, using baguetteBox by default. All options supported by the reST image directive are supported (except target). Providing alt is recommended, as this is the image caption. If a body element is provided, the thumbnail will mimic the behavior of the figure directive instead:

.. thumbnail:: /images/tesla.jpg
   :alt: Nikola Tesla

   Nikola Tesla, the man that invented the 20th century.

If you want to include a thumbnail in a non-reST post, you need to produce at least this basic HTML:

<a class="reference" href="images/tesla.jpg" alt="Nikola Tesla"><img src="images/tesla.thumbnail.jpg"></a>


This directive is a thin wrapper around Pygal and will produce charts as SVG files embedded directly in your pages.

Here's an example of how it works:

.. chart:: Bar
   :title: 'Browser usage evolution (in %)'
   :x_labels: ["2002", "2003", "2004", "2005", "2006", "2007"]

   'Firefox', [None, None, 0, 16.6, 25, 31]
   'Chrome',  [None, None, None, None, None, None]
   'IE',      [85.8, 84.6, 84.7, 74.5, 66, 58.6]
   'Others',  [14.2, 15.4, 15.3, 8.9, 9, 10.4]

The argument passed next to the directive (Bar in that example) is the type of chart, and can be one of Line, StackedLine, Bar, StackedBar, HorizontalBar, XY, DateY, Pie, Radar, Dot, Funnel, Gauge, Pyramid. For examples of what each kind of graph is, check here

It can take a lot of options to let you customize the charts (in the example, title and x_labels). You can use any option described in the pygal docs

Finally, the content of the directive is the actual data, in the form of a label and a list of values, one series per line.

You can also specify a :data_file: option as described in the documentation for the chart shortcut.


This role is useful to make links to other post or page inside the same site.

Here's an example:

Take a look at :doc:`my other post <creating-a-theme>` about theme creating.

In this case we are giving the portion of text we want to link. So, the result will be:

Take a look at my other post about theme creating.

If we want to use the post's title as the link's text, just do:

Take a look at :doc:`creating-a-theme` to know how to do it.

and it will produce:

Take a look at Creating a Theme to know how to do it.

Post List


Any post or page that uses this directive will be considered out of date, every time a post is added or deleted, causing maybe unnecessary rebuilds.

On the other hand, it will sometimes not be considered out of date if a post content changes, so it can sometimes be shown outdated, in those cases, use nikola build -a to force a total rebuild.

This directive can be used to generate a list of posts. You could use it, for example, to make a list of the latest 5 blog posts, or a list of all blog posts with the tag nikola:

Here are my 5 latest and greatest blog posts:

.. post-list::
   :stop: 5

These are all my posts about Nikola:

.. post-list::
   :tags: nikola

Using shortcode syntax (for other compilers):

{{% post-list stop=5 %}}{{% /post-list %}}

The following options are recognized:

  • startinteger

    The index of the first post to show. A negative value like -3 will show the last three posts in the post-list. Defaults to None.

  • stopinteger

    The index of the last post to show. A value negative value like -1 will show every post, but not the last in the post-list. Defaults to None.

  • reverseflag

    Reverse the order of the post-list. Defaults is to not reverse the order of posts.

  • sort: string

    Sort post list by one of each post's attributes, usually title or a custom priority. Defaults to None (chronological sorting).

  • date: string

    Show posts that match date range specified by this option. Format:

    • comma-separated clauses (AND)

    • clause: attribute comparison_operator value (spaces optional)
      • attribute: year, month, day, hour, month, second, weekday, isoweekday; or empty for full datetime

      • comparison_operator: == != <= >= < >

      • value: integer, 'now' or dateutil-compatible date input

  • tagsstring [, string...]

    Filter posts to show only posts having at least one of the tags. Defaults to None.

  • require_all_tagsflag

    Change tag filter behaviour to show only posts that have all specified tags. Defaults to False.

  • categoriesstring [, string...]

    Filter posts to show only posts having one of the categories. Defaults to None.

  • slugsstring [, string...]

    Filter posts to show only posts having at least one of the slugs. Defaults to None.

  • post_type (or type)string

    Show only posts, pages or all. Replaces all. Defaults to posts.

  • allflag

    (deprecated, use post_type instead) Shows all posts and pages in the post list. Defaults to show only posts.

  • langstring

    The language of post titles and links. Defaults to default language.

  • templatestring

    The name of an alternative template to render the post-list. Defaults to post_list_directive.tmpl

  • idstring

    A manual id for the post list. Defaults to a random name composed by 'post_list_' + uuid.uuid4().hex.

The post list directive uses the post_list_directive.tmpl template file (or another one, if you use the template option) to generate the list's HTML. By default, this is an unordered list with dates and clickable post titles. See the template file in Nikola's base theme for an example of how this works.

The list may fail to update in some cases, please run nikola build -a with the appropriate path if this happens.

We recommend using pages with dates in the past (1970-01-01) to avoid dependency issues.

If you are using this as a shortcode, flags (reverse, all) are meant to be used with a True argument, eg. all=True.

Importing your WordPress site into Nikola

If you like Nikola, and want to start using it, but you have a WordPress blog, Nikola supports importing it. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Get an XML dump of your site 1

  2. nikola import_wordpress mysite.wordpress.2012-12-20.xml

After some time, this will create a new_site folder with all your data. It currently supports the following:

  • All your posts and pages

  • Keeps “draft” status

  • Your tags and categories

  • Imports your attachments and fixes links to point to the right places

  • Will try to add redirects that send the old post URLs to the new ones

  • Will give you a URL map so you know where each old post was

    This is also useful for DISQUS thread migration, or server-based 301 redirects!

  • Allows you to export your comments with each post

  • Exports information on attachments per post

  • There are different methods to transfer the content of your posts:

    • You can convert them to HTML with the WordPress page compiler plugin for Nikola. This will format the posts including supported shortcodes the same way as WordPress does. Use the --transform-to-html option to convert your posts to HTML.

      If you use this option, you do not need to install the plugin permanently. You can ask Nikola to install the plugin into the subdirectory plugins of the current working directory by specifying the --install-wordpress-compiler option.

    • You can leave the posts the way they are and use the WordPress page compiler plugin to render them when building your new blog. This also allows you to create new posts using the WordPress syntax, or to manually add more shortcode plugins later. Use the --use-wordpress-compiler option to not touch your posts.

      If you want to use this option, you have to install the plugin permanently. You can ask Nikola to install the plugin into your new site by specifying the --install-wordpress-compiler option.

    • You can let Nikola convert your posts to Markdown. This is not error free, because WordPress uses some unholy mix of HTML and strange things. This is the default option and requires no plugins.

    You will find your old posts in new_site/posts/post-title.html in the first case, new_site/posts/post-title.wp in the second case or new_site/posts/post-title.md in the last case if you need to edit or fix any of them.

    Please note that the page compiler currently only supports the [code] shortcode, but other shortcodes can be supported via plugins.

    Also note that the WordPress page compiler is licensed under GPL v2 since it uses code from WordPress itself, while Nikola is licensed under the more liberal MIT license.

This feature is a work in progress, and the only way to improve it is to have it used for as many sites as possible and make it work better each time, so we are happy to get requests about it.


The dump needs to be in 1.2 format. You can check by reading it, it should say xmlns:excerpt="http://wordpress.org/export/1.2/excerpt/" near the top of the file. If it says 1.1 instead of 1.2 you will have to update your WordPress before dumping.

Other versions may or may not work.

Importing to a custom location or into an existing site

It is possible to either import into a location you desire or into an already existing Nikola site. To do so you can specify a location after the dump:

$ nikola import_wordpress mysite.wordpress.2012-12-20.xml -o import_location

With this command Nikola will import into the folder import_location.

If the folder already exists Nikola will not overwrite an existing conf.py. Instead a new file with a timestamp at the end of the filename will be created.

Using Twitter Cards

Nikola supports Twitter Card summaries, but they are disabled by default.

Twitter Cards enable you to show additional information in Tweets that link to your content. Nikola supports Twitter Cards. They are implemented to use Open Graph tags whenever possible.


To use Twitter Cards you need to opt-in on Twitter. To do so, please visit https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator

Images displayed come from the previewimage meta tag.

You can specify the card type by using the card parameter in TWITTER_CARD.

To enable and configure your use of Twitter Cards, please modify the corresponding lines in your conf.py:

    'use_twitter_cards': True,  # enable Twitter Cards
    'card': 'summary',          # Card type, you can also use 'summary_large_image',
                                # see https://dev.twitter.com/cards/types
    'site': '@website',         # twitter nick for the website
    'creator': '@username',     # Username for the content creator / author.

Custom Plugins

You can create your own plugins (see Extending Nikola) and use them in your own site by putting them in a plugins/ folder. You can also put them in directories listed in the EXTRA_PLUGINS_DIRS configuration variable.

Getting Extra Plugins

If you want extra plugins, there is also the Plugins Index.

Similarly to themes, there is a nice, built-in command to manage them — plugin:

$ nikola plugin -l

$ nikola plugin --install helloworld
[2013-10-12T16:51:56Z] NOTICE: install_plugin: Downloading: https://plugins.getnikola.com/v6/helloworld.zip
[2013-10-12T16:51:58Z] NOTICE: install_plugin: Extracting: helloworld into plugins
[2013-10-12T16:51:58Z] NOTICE: install_plugin: This plugin has Python dependencies.
[2013-10-12T16:51:58Z] NOTICE: install_plugin: Installing dependencies with pip...

[2013-10-12T16:51:59Z] NOTICE: install_plugin: Dependency installation succeeded.
[2013-10-12T16:51:59Z] NOTICE: install_plugin: This plugin has a sample config file.
Contents of the conf.py.sample file:

    # Should the Hello World plugin say “BYE” instead?
    BYE_WORLD = False

Then you also can uninstall your plugins:

$ nikola plugin --uninstall tags
[2014-04-15T08:59:24Z] WARNING: plugin: About to uninstall plugin: tags
[2014-04-15T08:59:24Z] WARNING: plugin: This will delete /home/ralsina/foo/plugins/tags
Are you sure? [y/n] y
[2014-04-15T08:59:26Z] WARNING: plugin: Removing /home/ralsina/foo/plugins/tags

And upgrade them:

$ nikola plugin --upgrade
[2014-04-15T09:00:18Z] WARNING: plugin: This is not very smart, it just reinstalls some plugins and hopes for the best
Will upgrade 1 plugins: graphviz
Upgrading graphviz
[2014-04-15T09:00:20Z] INFO: plugin: Downloading: https://plugins.getnikola.com/v7/graphviz.zip
[2014-04-15T09:00:20Z] INFO: plugin: Extracting: graphviz into /home/ralsina/.nikola/plugins/
[2014-04-15T09:00:20Z] NOTICE: plugin: This plugin has third-party dependencies you need to install manually.
Contents of the requirements-nonpy.txt file:


You have to install those yourself or through a package manager.

You can also share plugins you created with the community! Visit the GitHub repository to find out more.

You can use the plugins in this repository without installing them into your site, by cloning the repository and adding the path of the plugins directory to the EXTRA_PLUGINS_DIRS list in your configuration.

Advanced Features


For pdb debugging in Nikola, you should use doit.tools.set_trace() instead of the usual pdb call. By default, doit (and thus Nikola) redirects stdout and stderr. Thus, you must use the different call. (Alternatively, you could run with nikola build -v 2, which disables the redirections.)

To show more logging messages, as well as full tracebacks, you need to set an environment variable: NIKOLA_DEBUG=1. If you want to only see tracebacks, set NIKOLA_SHOW_TRACEBACKS=1.

Shell Tab Completion

Since Nikola is a command line tool, and this is the 21st century, it's handy to have smart tab-completion so that you don't have to type the full commands.

To enable this, you can use the nikola tabcompletion command like this, depending on your shell:

$ nikola tabcompletion --shell bash --hardcode-tasks > _nikola_bash
$ nikola tabcompletion --shell zsh --hardcode-tasks > _nikola_zsh

The --hardcode-tasks adds tasks to the completion and may need updating periodically.

Please refer to your shell’s documentation for help on how to use those files.


Nikola is released under the MIT license, which is a free software license. Some components shipped along with Nikola, or required by it are released under other licenses.

If you are not familiar with free software licensing, here is a brief explanation (this is NOT legal advice): In general, you can do pretty much anything you want — including modifying Nikola, using and redistributing the original version or the your modified version. However, if you redistribute Nikola to someone else, either a modified version or the original version, the full copyright notice and license text must be included in your distribution. Nikola is provided “as is”, and the Nikola contributors are not liable for any damage caused by the software. Read the full license text for details.

Welcome to Nikola

Nikola Tesla Corner by nicwest, on Flickr

If you can see this in a web browser, it means you managed to install Nikola, and build a site using it. Congratulations!

Next steps:

System Message: WARNING/2 (<string>, line 13)

Bullet list ends without a blank line; unexpected unindent.

System Message: WARNING/2 (<string>, line 14)

Explicit markup ends without a blank line; unexpected unindent.

Send feedback to info@getnikola.com!

Theming Nikola


Roberto Alsina <ralsina@netmanagers.com.ar>

This document is a reference about themes. If you want a tutorial, please read Creating a Theme. If you’re looking for a ready-made theme for your site, check out the Themes Index.

The Structure

Themes are located in the themes folder where Nikola is installed, and in the themes folder of your site, one folder per theme. The folder name is the theme name.

A Nikola theme consists of the following folders (they are all optional):


This is where you would put your CSS, JavaScript and image files. It will be copied into output/assets when you build the site, and the templates will contain references to them. The default subdirectories are css, js, xml and fonts (Bootstrap).

The included themes use Bootstrap, baguetteBox, Justified Layout by Flickr and Moment.js, so they are in assets, along with CSS files for syntax highlighting, reStructuredText and Jupyter, as well as a minified copy of jQuery.

If you want to base your theme on other frameworks (or on no framework at all) just remember to put there everything you need for deployment. (Not all of the listed assets are used by base)


This contains the templates used to generate the pages. While Nikola will use a certain set of template names by default, you can add others for specific parts of your site.


Nikola tries to be multilingual. This is where you put the strings for your theme so that it can be translated into other languages.

less, sass

Files to be compiled into CSS using LESS and Sass (both require plugins)

This mandatory file:


An INI file containing theme meta data. The file format is described in detail below, in the Theme meta files section.

And these optional files:

parent, engine

One-line text files that contain the names of parent and engine themes, respectively. Those are needed for older versions (Nikola v7.8.5 and older).


A config file containing a list of files to be turned into bundles. For example:


This creates a file called "assets/css/all.css" in your output that is the combination of all the other file paths, relative to the output file. This makes the page much more efficient because it avoids multiple connections to the server, at the cost of some extra difficult debugging.

Bundling applies to CSS and JS files.

Templates should use either the bundle or the individual files based on the use_bundles variable, which in turn is set by the USE_BUNDLES option.

Theme meta files

As of Nikola v7.8.6, Nikola uses meta files for themes. Those are INI files, with the same name as your theme, and a .theme extension, eg. bootstrap3.theme. Here is an example, from the bootstrap3 theme:

engine = mako
parent = base
author = The Nikola Contributors
author_url = https://getnikola.com/
based_on = Bootstrap 3 <http://getbootstrap.com/>
license = MIT
tags = bootstrap

family = bootstrap3
jinja_version = bootstrap3-jinja
variants = bootstrap3-gradients, bootstrap3-gradients-jinja

bootswatch = True

The following keys are currently supported:

  • Theme — contains information about the theme.

    • engine — engine used by the theme. Should be mako or jinja.

    • parent — the parent theme. Any resources missing in this theme, will be looked up in the parent theme (and then in the grandparent, etc).

      The parent is so you don’t have to create a full theme each time: just create an empty theme, set the parent, and add the bits you want modified. You must define a parent, otherwise many features won’t work due to missing templates, messages, and assets.

      The following settings are recommended:

      • If your theme uses Bootstrap 3, inherit the bootstrap3 theme.

      • If your theme uses Jinja as a template engine, inherit base-jinja or bootstrap3-jinja

      • In any other case, inherit base.

    • author, author_url — used to identify theme author.

    • based_on — optional list of inspirations, frameworks, etc. used in the theme. Should be comma-separated, the format Name <URL> is recommended.

    • license — theme license. Pick MIT if you have no preference.

    • tags — optional list of tags (comma-separated) to describe the theme.

  • Family — contains information about other related themes. All values optional. (Do not use unless you have related themes.)

    • family — the name of the main theme in a family, which is also used as the family name.

    • mako_version, jinja_version — name of the mako/jinja version of the theme.

    • variants — comma-separated list of stylistic variants (other than the mako/jinja version listed above)

  • Nikola — Nikola-specific information, currently optional.

    • bootswatch — whether or not theme supports Bootswatch styling (optional, defaults to False)

    • ignored_assets — comma-separated list of assets to ignore (relative to the assets/ directory, eg. css/theme.css)


In templates there is a number of files whose name ends in .tmpl. Those are the theme’s page templates. They are done using the Mako or Jinja2 template languages. If you want to do a theme, you should learn one first. What engine is used by the theme is declared in the engine file.


If you are using Mako templates, and want some extra speed when building the site you can install Beaker and make templates be cached

Both template engines have a nifty concept of template inheritance. That means that a template can inherit from another and only change small bits of the output. For example, base.tmpl defines the whole layout for a page but has only a placeholder for content so post.tmpl only define the content, and the layout is inherited from base.tmpl.

Another concept is theme inheritance. You do not need to duplicate all the default templates in your theme — you can just override the ones you want changed, and the rest will come from the parent theme. (Every theme needs a parent.)

Apart from the built-in templates listed below, you can add other templates for specific pages, which the user can then use in his POSTS or PAGES option in conf.py. Also, you can specify a custom template to be used by a post or page via the template metadata, and custom templates can be added in the templates/ folder of your site.

If you want to modify (override) a built-in template, use nikola theme -c <name>.tmpl. This command will copy the specified template file to the templates/ directory of your currently used theme.

Keep in mind that your theme is yours, so you can require whatever data you want (eg. you may depend on specific custom GLOBAL_CONTEXT variables, or post meta attributes). You don’t need to keep the same theme structure as the default themes do (although many of those names are hardcoded). Inheriting from at least base (or base-jinja) is heavily recommended, but not strictly required (unless you want to share it on the Themes Index).

Built-in templates

These are the templates that come with the included themes:


This template defines the basic page layout for the site. It’s mostly plain HTML but defines a few blocks that can be re-defined by inheriting templates.

It has some separate pieces defined in base_helper.tmpl, base_header.tmpl and base_footer.tmpl so they can be easily overridden.


Template used to render the multipost indexes. The posts are in a posts variable. Some functionality is in the index_helper.tmpl helper template.

archive_navigation_helper.tmpl (internal)

Code that implements archive navigation (previous/up/next). Included by archive templates.


Used to display archives, if ARCHIVES_ARE_INDEXES is True. By default, it just inherits index.tmpl, with added archive navigation and feeds.


Used to display author pages.


Used to display author indexes, if AUTHOR_PAGES_ARE_INDEXES is True. By default, it just inherits index.tmpl, with added feeds.

comments_helper.tmpl (internal)

This template handles comments. You should probably never touch it :-) It uses a bunch of helper templates, one for each supported comment system (all of which start with comments_helper)

ui_helper.tmpl, pagination_helper.tmpl

These templates help render specific UI items, and can be tweaked as needed.


Template used for image galleries. Interesting data includes:

  • post: A post object, containing descriptive post.text() for the gallery.

  • crumbs: A list of link, crumb to implement breadcrumbs.

  • folders: A list of folders to implement hierarchical gallery navigation.

  • enable_comments: To enable/disable comments in galleries.

  • thumbnail_size: The THUMBNAIL_SIZE option.

  • photo_array: a list of dictionaries, each containing:

    • url: URL for the full-sized image.

    • url_thumb: URL for the thumbnail.

    • title: The title of the image.

    • size: A dict containing w and h, the real size of the thumbnail.

  • photo_array_json: a JSON dump of photo_array, used by the justified-layout script


Template used to display generic lists of links, which it gets in items, a list of (text, link, count) elements.


Template used to display generic lists of posts, which it gets in posts.


Used to display code listings.

math_helper.tmpl (internal)

Used to add MathJax/KaTeX code to pages.


Template used by default for blog posts, gets the data in a post object which is an instance of the Post class. Some functionality is in the post_helper.tmpl and post_header.tmpl templates.


Template used by the post_list reStructuredText directive.


Used to display section indexes, if POST_SECTIONS_ARE_INDEXES is True. By default, it just inherits index.tmpl, with added feeds.


Used for pages that are not part of a blog, usually a cleaner, less intrusive layout than post.tmpl, but same parameters.


Used to show the contents of a single tag or category.


Used to show the contents of a single tag or category, if TAG_PAGES_ARE_INDEXES is True. By default, it just inherits index.tmpl, with added feeds and some extra features.


Used to display the list of tags and categories.

Variables available in templates

The full, complete list of variables available in templates is maintained in a separate document: Template variables

Customizing themes to user color preference and section colors

The user’s preference for theme color is exposed in templates as theme_color set in the THEME_COLOR option.

Each section has an assigned color that is either set by the user or auto selected by adjusting the hue of the user’s THEME_COLOR. The color is exposed in templates through post.section_color(lang). The function that generates the colors from strings and any given color (by section name and theme color for sections) is exposed through the colorize_str_from_base_color(string, hex_color) function

Hex color values, like that returned by the theme or section color can be altered in the HSL colorspace through the function color_hsl_adjust_hex(hex_string, adjust_h, adjust_s, adjust_l). Adjustments are given in values between 1.0 and -1.0. For example, the theme color can be made lighter using this code:

<!-- Mako -->
<span style="color: ${color_hsl_adjust_hex(theme_color, adjust_l=0.05)}">
<!-- Jinja2 -->
<span style="color: {{ color_hsl_adjust_hex(theme_color, adjust_l=0.05) }}">

Identifying and customizing different kinds of pages with a shared template

Nikola provides a pagekind in each template contexts that can be used to modify shared templates based on the context it’s being used. For example, the base_helper.tmpl is used in all pages, index.tmpl is used in many contexts and you may want to add or remove something from only one of these contexts.

Example of conditionally loading different resources on all index pages (archives, author pages, and tag pages), and others again to the front page and in every post pages:

<!-- Mako -->
    % if 'index' in pagekind:
        <link href="/assets/css/multicolumn.css" rel="stylesheet">
    % endif
    % if 'front_page' in pagekind:
        <link href="/assets/css/fancy_homepage.css" rel="stylesheet">
        <script src="/assets/js/post_carousel.js"></script>
    % endif
    % if 'post_page' in pagekind:
        <link href="/assets/css/article.css" rel="stylesheet">
        <script src="/assets/js/comment_system.js"></script>
    % endif
<!-- Jinja2 -->
    {% if 'index' in pagekind %}
        <link href="/assets/css/multicolumn.css" rel="stylesheet">
    {% endif %}
    {% if 'front_page' in pagekind %}
        <link href="/assets/css/fancy_homepage.css" rel="stylesheet">
        <script src="/assets/js/post_carousel.js"></script>
    {% endif %}
    {% if 'post_page' in pagekind %}
        <link href="/assets/css/article.css" rel="stylesheet">
        <script src="/assets/js/comment_system.js"></script>
    {% endif %}

Promoting visits to the front page when visiting other filtered index.tmpl page variants such as author pages and tag pages. This could have been included in index.tmpl or maybe in base.tmpl depending on what you want to achieve.

<!-- Mako -->
% if 'index' in pagekind:
    % if 'author_page' in pagekind:
        <p>These posts were written by ${author}. See posts by all
           authors on the <a href="/">front page</a>.</p>
    % elif 'tag_page' in pagekind:
        <p>This is a filtered selection of posts tagged “${tag}”, visit
           the <a href="/">front page</a> to see all posts.</p>
    % endif
% endif
<!-- Jinja2 -->
{% if 'index' in pagekind %}
    {% if 'author_page' in pagekind %}
        <p>These posts were written by {{ author }}. See posts by all
           authors on the <a href="/">front page</a>.</p>
    {% elif 'tag_page' in pagekind %}
        <p>This is a filtered selection of posts tagged “{{ tag }}”, visit
           the <a href="/">front page</a> to see all posts.</p>
    {% endif %}
{% endif %}

List of page kinds provided by default plugins:

  • front_page

  • index

  • index, archive_page

  • index, author_page

  • index, main_index

  • index, section_page

  • index, tag_page

  • list

  • list, archive_page

  • list, author_page

  • list, section_page

  • list, tag_page

  • list, tags_page

  • post_page

  • page_page

  • story_page

  • listing

  • generic_page

  • gallery_front

  • gallery_page

Messages and Translations

The included themes are translated into a variety of languages. You can add your own translation at https://www.transifex.com/projects/p/nikola/

If you want to create a theme that has new strings, and you want those strings to be translatable, then your theme will need a custom messages folder.

LESS and Sass


The LESS and Sass compilers were moved to the Plugins Index in Nikola v7.0.0.

If you want to use those CSS extensions, you can — just store your files in the less or sass directory of your theme.

In order to have them work, you need to create a list of .less or .scss/.sass files to compile — the list should be in a file named targets in the respective directory (less/sass).

The files listed in the targets file will be passed to the respective compiler, which you have to install manually (lessc which comes from the Node.js package named less or sass from a Ruby package aptly named sass). Whatever the compiler outputs will be saved as a CSS file in your rendered site, with the .css extension.


Conflicts may occur if you have two files with the same base name but a different extension. Pay attention to how you name your files or your site won’t build! (Nikola will tell you what’s wrong when this happens)