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Less-Based Themes

All Kendo UI widgets support a set of predefined themes.

Figure 1: Kendo UI themes for the Web

Kendo UI Web Themes

This is how the same themes are rendered in widgets that visualize data, such as Gauges, Charts, Barcodes, Diagrams, and Maps.

Figure 2: Kendo UI themes for widgets rendering data visualization

Kendo UI DataViz Themes

Getting Started

The LESS-based themes support only the default value of the Size styling option.

As of 2022 R1, components receive the default value for the Rounded styling option through the k-rounded-md class. Check the Backwards Compatibility section for more details.

Setting a Kendo UI theme for any of the Kendo UI widgets, such as Kendo UI Grid, or Kendo UI Bar Chart, requires you to include the following two stylesheets to your project:

  • kendo.common.css—This is a common (base) stylesheet. It applies styles related to element positioning and widget dimensions. It is a must for the widgets to look and function in a proper way.
  • kendo.[theme].css—This stylesheet applies theme-specific styles such color palette, background gradients and patterns, etc.

Kendo UI Gauges, Charts, Barcodes, Diagrams, and Maps use a mix of browser technologies to attain the required precision and responsiveness. Visualization is rendered as vector graphics with computed layout. In contrast, interactive features are built using traditional HTML elements. As a result, the appearance settings of these widgets are split between declarative options and traditional CSS.

The appearance of the Kendo UI widgets entirely depends on styles defined by the applied CSS classes. No inline styles are used, except for some very specific cases, in which these styles must be set with JavaScript, depending on the browser or configuration.

  • The common CSS file must be registered before the theme CSS file. This is because the theme CSS file may need to override common styles via selectors with the same CSS specificity.
  • Only one pair of common and theme CSS file has to be registered on the page at any given time.

The following example demonstrates how to define a theme for a Kendo UI Chart.

    theme: "[theme]"

The following example demonstrates how to include the stylesheets to your project.

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="[file path]/kendo.common.min.css" />
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="[file path]/kendo.default.min.css" />

Common CSS Files

Some themes require a different common (base) stylesheet that applies different dimensions. There are four common stylesheets shipped with Kendo UI.

CSS Files Contents and Application
kendo.common.css This is the default base stylesheet, which is required by the majority of the Kendo UI themes.
kendo.common-bootstrap.css The base stylesheet for the Bootstrap (v3) theme. Use this file instead of kendo.common.css and only with kendo.bootstrap.css theme file to achieve Bootstrap-like widget dimensions.
kendo.common-material.css The base stylesheet for the Material and MaterialBlack themes. Use this file instead of kendo.common.css and only with kendo.material.css or kendo.materialblack.css theme files.
kendo.common-nova.css The base stylesheet for the Nova theme. Use this file instead of kendo.common.css and only with kendo.nova.css.
kendo.common-fiori.css The base stylesheet for the Fiori theme available in the enterprise bundles of Kendo UI. Use this file instead of kendo.common.css and only with kendo.fiori.css.
kendo.common-office365.css The base stylesheet for the Office365 theme available in the enterprise bundles of Kendo UI. Use this file instead of kendo.common.css and only with kendo.office365.css.

Apart from the common stylesheet and theme stylesheet, the following folders must be available in your application.

  • /ThemeName/—This is the folder, which contains all images required by the used Kendo UI theme. The folder name matches the theme name, e.g. Default, Bootstrap, Silver, etc. The theme image folders for unused themes can be removed.
  • /fonts/—This is where the KendoUIGlyphs and DejaVu font files reside. The KendoUIGlyphs font describes the Kendo UI font icons used by the web widgets. The DejaVu font is used by default during PDF export.
  • /images/—This where the Kendo UI font icons for the mobile widgets reside.
  • /textures/—This is where some fallback theme images are stored for browsers that do not support the CSS3 linear gradients.

Browser-Specific CSS

While most of the CSS code is cross-browser compatible, some layouts require different styles for different browsers. Kendo UI targets specific browsers by adding browser-specific classes to the document root element instead of relying on CSS parsing hacks.

The example below demonstrates how to take advantage of these classes.

.k-ie { /* styles to be applied to all versions of Internet Explorer */ }
.k-ie9 { /* styles to be applied to IE9 only */ }
.k-ff { /* styles to be applied to all versions of Firefox */ }

The syntax of the generated classes is k-[browser] k-[browser][majorVersion].


Kendo UI widgets use primitives, meaning that different HTML elements in different widgets use the same CSS classes to provide a level of abstraction and allow common styling.

You can use some CSS classes to apply borders and background colors to containers—for example, k-info-colored, k-success-colored, and k-error-colored. For more examples, refer to the StylingPanels demo.

Common CSS Classes

CSS Class Behavior
k-widget The class is applied to the widget wrapper to set a border, text and background color. In addition to k-widget, every widget has its own specific CSS class, such as k-menu, k-panelbar, k-tabstrip, etc.
k-header Applied to Grid headers, Menu top level items, PanelBar top level items, TabStrip items, and DropDownLists to set a background image and a background color.
k-link Applied to hyperlinks and clickable text items to set a text color.
k-button Applied to elements that are expected to look like push buttons. The class sets a text color, background color, background image, and hover styling. This is the recommended class for styling form buttons.
k-input Applied to textboxes inside input widgets like ComboBox and AutoComplete to set border, text and background color.
k-textbox Same as k-input, but used for standalone (generic) input elements that are not part of a widget. This is the recommended class for styling form input elements as it provides the same look, height, and vertical alignment as the Kendo UI input widgets.
k-checkbox Applied to checkboxes inside the TreeView widget, when checkboxes are enabled for it.
k-group and k-content Applied to various containers to set a background and border color.
k-popup Applied to popup containers that are detached from their opener component and are placed in the body element.
k-icon and k-sprite Applied to elements that display part of a sprite image as background to initialize their dimensions.
k-image Applied to inline images to set their dimensions.
k-item Applied to various repeating widget items, e.g. Menu, TabStrip, TreeView, PanelBar, ComboBox, DropDownList, etc. This CSS class does not apply any particular global styles and sports display: block.
k-first and k-last Set on the first and the last k-item respectively, where a special type of styling is needed, e.g. rounded corners and removing borders.

The k-state Classes

The appearance of a component may well depend on its state, which is also tied to CSS classes.

k-state Class Behavior
k-state-default This class is applied on items to set their default appearance background and colors.
k-state-hover Set to items when they are hovered to apply their hovered look.
k-state-focused Applied on focused, mostly input elements and the DropDownList.
k-state-active Set on activated k-link elements.
k-state-selected Set to selected items to apply their selected look like in the PanelBar and TabStrip.
k-state-disabled Applied to disabled items.
k-state-error Can be used with form fields that have an invalid value.

Overriding Primitives

Usually, a CSS property defined by a primitive class is used by all widgets which use that class, unless overridden by a higher specificity selector.

.k-link {
    color: blue;

The previous code snipper will not affect the following setting because the latter uses a descendant selector and is therefore more specific (20 versus 10, to be precise).

.k-panelbar .k-link {
    color: red;

For more information about the CSS specificity, refer to this article in the Smashing Magazine.

To override the styling for a given widget type, you can use a CSS selector with the CSS class of the widget. Make sure to register the custom rules after the respective theme CSS files. Otherwise you need to use higher specificity and longer complex CSS selectors.

.k-menu .k-link {
    color: red;

To customize the appearance of a particular widget instance, you will need a custom CSS class or ID, and include it in the CSS selectors. The Menu form the following example can be styled by using its ID. The CSS rule will not affect any other widget instances which are outside #menu1.

<ul id="menu1" class="k-widget k-menu">
    <!-- menu items here -->

// Style the Menu by its id.
#menu1 .k-link {
    color: red;

Customizing Themes

To create a custom theme with Kendo UI, use either of the following approaches:

  1. Use the Kendo UI ThemeBuilder. For detailed information on how to configure its options, refer to the section on the Less Theme Builder.
  2. Modify a .less file to achieve a theme of your liking. To do so, choose one of the available kendo.*.less files depending on what you want to achieve. Copy it to your project and rename it. Change the colors and run the Less command-line compiler on it.

Using the Less Theme Builder

The Kendo UI ThemeBuilder enables you to modify Kendo UI themes to match the look and feel of your website or application.

When you customize a theme, you can either:

  1. Use a newly created theme, or
  2. Use the Less output.

Using Newly Created Themes

To use newly created themes:

  1. Adjust the theme with the ThemeBuilder.
  2. Click Download theme. As a result, the following files become available:

    • kendo.custom.css—The custom theme for most widgets. You can use this theme instead of any kendo.[theme].css one.
    • kendo.custom.json—The custom theme for widgets that use SVG/Canvas rendering (charting widgets). Use the contents of this file to create a custom Chart theme. Set a custom theme name by using the theme configuration option.
    • kendo.custom.less—The Less that includes the custom theme. Use this file when you compile the theme dynamically.
  • Always register the common CSS file on the page, even when using Theme Builder-generated custom themes.
  • Use the common CSS file, which corresponds to the Kendo UI theme that is used as a base for your custom theme. For example, if you have created a custom theme from the built-in Material theme, then register kendo.common-material.min.css.
  • When you deploy your themed application to an internal network, the images in the Theme Builder output are inferred from the page. If you are using the Theme Builder through the Kendo UI page, the images are located on the Kendo UI CDN and may be blocked if your customers are within an internal network without access to the CDN. In such cases, copy the image resources locally and change the references in the CSS or Less output.

Using Less Output

The Less output of the Theme Builder depends on the Less files that are distributed along with the Kendo UI source, so make sure the file reference points to the existing files.

For the various ways to process the Less output, refer to the official Less documentation.

  • As of the Kendo UI Q2 2015 release, Kendo UI introduces a new Theme Builder. It follows a notable CSS code overhaul, which made the themes more consistent and simpler to implement and to customize.
  • The new Theme Builder does not provide an import functionality. Kendo UI dropped this feature because it cannot be implemented to be as good and flexible as desired. Although it may not seem like the best option, it is recommended to recreate the custom themes after upgrading the Kendo UI version. This ensures that the generated CSS code is clean and includes all styles required by the new widgets or features.


The Theme Builder generates CSS, Less, and JS code which is compatible with the current official Kendo UI version. If your project requires a custom theme for an older Kendo UI version, implement it through manual coding or overrides.

Modifying Themes

Kendo UI supports a number of .less files, which are only used when you want to modify the Kendo UI CSS source code and create a custom theme. In the Kendo UI Q1 2014 release, the Kendo UI web.common.less file was split, which resulted in the construction of .less files for each widget. The Kendo UI mobile platform themes were also divided in parts to create files per widget. The Kendo UI .less files, including the styling of the Kendo UI hybrid widgets, can be built by using the Less 3.0.0 version.

  • As of 2019.1 versions and onwards Kendo UI for jQuery distributes a single and identical set of themes for both Kendo UI Professional and Kendo UI Core.
  • Kendo UI versions earlier than and including 2015.2.805 had to be built with Telerik Less fork located on GitHub. This is no longer a requirement.

The Less command-line compiler is used for building the LESS source files to CSS skins and themes. The .less files, which can be passed to the compiler, are located in the first-level folders inside styles/folderstyles/web/ and styles/mobile/. Kendo UI files for mobile are self-explanatory. Except meego.less, which is deprecated, the rest of the files can be built by using the .less files modification and produce all platform themes. Some use CSS files, including

The following list demonstrates the names of the .less files that are supported by Kendo UI.

Less Files Contents and Application
kendo.[theme-name].less The file contains theme variables, but does not include styles for hybrid widgets. Building it produces a theme file.
kendo.[theme-name].mobile.less Contains styling for all widgets, including hybrid ones. Building it produces a theme file for all widgets.
kendo.common.less This a default sizing file for all Kendo UI widgets. Building it produces a common file for all Kendo UI widgets.
kendo.common-[theme-name].less Contains sizing adjustments for [theme-name] for all Kendo UI widgets. Building it produces a common file for all Kendo UI widgets.
kendo.rtl.css Contains styles for widgets in RTL mode, CSS only.
type-[theme-name].less Contains supporting files that cannot be built. Translates the colors from kendo.[theme-name].less to the theme colors to a usable theme.

Backwards Compatibility

Rounded Components with High Contrast Theme

As of 2022 R1, the default rounded value of the components is set to medium.

To revert back to the previous border-radius (9999px) value you can:

  • Set the rounded option of the component to full:

    <button type="button" class="k-button k-rounded-full">
        <span class="k-button-text">Text</span>
    • If you are using widget initialization:

  • Override the .k-rounded-md class:

    .k-rounded-md { /* Global rule */
        border-radius: 9999px !important!
    .k-button.k-rounded-md { /* Scoped rule */
        border-radius: 9999px !important!

See Also

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