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Kendo UI provides options for creating custom themes.

To implement the desired customization, 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.

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.

Overriding Primitives

For the full list of primitives, refer to the Overview article.

Usually, a CSS property that is 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 snippet 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 have 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 need a custom CSS class or ID, and include it in the CSS selectors. The Menu from 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;
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