Utilities

Layout grid

Use our flexible grid system to structure website content. The grid is mobile-first, powered by flexbox, and based on a 12-column system.

How it works

The grid system uses a series of containers, rows, and columns to lay out and align content. The following row and corresponding code are an example of and in-depth look at how the grid comes together.

tablet:grid-col
tablet:grid-col
tablet:grid-col
<div class="grid-container">
  <div class="grid-row">
    <div class="tablet:grid-col">tablet:grid-col</div>
    <div class="tablet:grid-col">tablet:grid-col</div>
    <div class="tablet:grid-col">tablet:grid-col</div>
  </div>
</div>

This example code creates three equal-width columns on tablet, desktop, and widescreen devices by using our predefined grid classes. Those columns are centered in the page with the parent grid-container container.

The following sections break the layout grid down and describe how it works.

Containers, rows, and columns

  • Containers: grid-container centers the container and gives it a maximum width of desktop (1024px). If you would like the grid to span the full width of the page, do not use grid-container.
    • grid-container can also accept any breakpoint width, like grid-container-tablet-lg or grid-container-widescreen. Set the default max width with $theme-grid-container-max-width in uswds-theme-spacing.scss.
    • By default, grid-containers have padding-x of 2 units, with a padding-x of 4 units at desktop and wider. Control these values with the values of $theme-site-margins-mobile-width, $theme-site-margins-width and $theme-site-margins-breakpoint in uswds-theme-spacing.scss.
  • Rows: Columns must have a grid-row as a parent.
  • Columns: grid-col-[1-12] indicates the number of columns the item spans out of a possible 12 per row. So, if you want three equal-width columns across, use grid-col-4 for each item.

Additional functionality

  • Equal-width columns: With flexbox, grid columns without a specified width will display as equal-width columns. For example, four instances of grid-col will display as one-quarter-width columns across all sizes. Refer to the auto-layout columns section for more examples.
  • Gutters: Rows and columns don’t have any gutters by default, but gutters can be added by including grid-gap-sm, grid-gap, or grid-gap-lg at the row level. Refer to gutters for more info.
  • Media queries: Grid breakpoints are based on minimum-width media queries, meaning they apply to that specific width and all greater widths (e.g., tablet:col-4 applies to tablet, desktop, and widescreen devices but not at mobile-lg or any width below the tablet breakpoint). Refer to responsive variants for a full list.
  • Sass mixins: You can use predefined grid classes (like grid-col-4) for presentational markup or Sass mixins for more semantic markup.

Responsive variants

Default responsive sizes
Width Size Utility class Columns Gutters Nestable
Smallest ≥0px .grid-col 12 0 Yes
Mobile large ≥480px .mobile-lg:grid-col 12 0 Yes
Tablet ≥640px .tablet:grid-col 12 0 Yes
Desktop ≥1024px .desktop:grid-col 12 0 Yes

Auto layout columns

Variable-width content

.grid-col-auto items fit the natural width of their content.

.grid-col and .grid-col-fill items flex to fill the available space as illustrated in the following example row and code.

.grid-col-auto
.grid-col
.grid-col
.grid-col-auto
<div class="grid-container">
  <div class="grid-row">
    <div class="grid-col-auto">.grid-col-auto</div>
    <div class="grid-col-fill">.grid-col</div>
    <div class="grid-col-fill">.grid-col</div>
    <div class="grid-col-auto">.grid-col-auto</div>
  </div>
</div>

Responsive classes

Same at all breakpoints

For columns that should maintain the same proportion at any viewport width, use the .grid-col and .grid-col-* classes. Specify a numbered class when you need a column of a specific width; otherwise, use .grid-col.

.grid-col-[1-12] sets a fixed width of [n] grid columns in a 12-column grid.

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.grid-col-1
.grid-col-2
.grid-col-3
.grid-col-4
.grid-col-2
.grid-col-8
.grid-col-2
.grid-col-2
<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="grid-col-1">.grid-col-1</div>
  <div class="grid-col-2">.grid-col-2</div>
  <div class="grid-col-3">.grid-col-3</div>
  <div class="grid-col-4">.grid-col-4</div>
  <div class="grid-col-2">.grid-col-2</div>
</div>

<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="grid-col-8">.grid-col-8</div>
  <div class="grid-col-2">.grid-col-2</div>
  <div class="grid-col-2">.grid-col-2</div>
</div>

Stacked columns at narrow widths

Columns are full-width until the narrowest breakpoint specified in a .grid-col class. For instance, using a single set of tablet:grid-col-* classes, you can create a basic grid system that starts out stacked before displaying as columns at the tablet breakpoint (tablet:) as illustrated in the following rows and corresponding code.

.tablet:grid-col
.tablet:grid-col
.tablet:grid-col
.tablet:grid-col-4
.tablet:grid-col-8
<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="tablet:grid-col">.tablet:grid-col</div>
  <div class="tablet:grid-col">.tablet:grid-col</div>
  <div class="tablet:grid-col">.tablet:grid-col</div>
</div>

<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="tablet:grid-col-4">.tablet:grid-col-4</div>
  <div class="tablet:grid-col-8">.tablet:grid-col-8</div>
</div>

Mix and match

Don’t want your columns to simply stack in some breakpoints? Use a combination of different classes for each breakpoint as needed. See the following example rows and corresponding code for a better idea of how it all works.

.tablet:grid-col-8
.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4
.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4
.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4
.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4
.col-6
.col-6
<!-- Stack the columns on mobile by making one full-width and the other half-width -->
<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="tablet:grid-col-8">.tablet:grid-col-8</div>
  <div class="grid-col-6 tablet:grid-col-4">.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4</div>
</div>

<!-- Columns start at 50% wide on mobile and bump up to 33.3% wide on desktop -->
<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="grid-col-6 tablet:grid-col-4">.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4</div>
  <div class="grid-col-6 tablet:grid-col-4">.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4</div>
  <div class="grid-col-6 tablet:grid-col-4">.col-6 .tablet:grid-col-4</div>
</div>

<!-- Columns are always 50% wide, on mobile and desktop -->
<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="grid-col-6">.col-6</div>
  <div class="grid-col-6">.col-6</div>
</div>

Offsetting columns

.grid-offset-[1-12] offsets an item by the specified number of grid columns as shown in the following example.

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.grid-col-8.grid-offset-4
<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="grid-col-8 grid-offset-4">.grid-col-8.grid-offset-4</div>
</div>

Column wrapping

Items wrap when the sum of the grid columns is more than 12 as shown in the following example.

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.grid-col-8
.grid-col-3
.grid-col-5
<div class="grid-row">
  <div class="grid-col-8">.grid-col-8</div>
  <div class="grid-col-3">.grid-col-3</div>
  <div class="grid-col-5">.grid-col-5</div>
</div>

Gutters

Default gutter

Add grid-gap to a grid row to add a gap (or gutter) between each column in the row. The default gap width is 2 units and 4 units at desktop and higher. Customize the width of the gap by adjusting the value of $theme-column-gap in project settings as shown in the following example.

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.grid-col-4
.grid-col-4
.grid-col-4
<div class="grid-row grid-gap">
  <div class="grid-col-4">
    <div>.grid-col-4</div>
  </div>
  <div class="grid-col-4">
    <div>.grid-col-4</div>
  </div>
  <div class="grid-col-4">
    <div>.grid-col-4</div>
  </div>
</div>

Large gutter

grid-gap-lg adds a larger gap (or gutter) between each column in a row than `grid-gap`. The default large-gap width is 32px (4 spacing units). Customize the width of the large gap by adjusting the value of $theme-column-gap-lg in project settings. There is also a .grid-gap-sm (2px) set with $theme-column-gap-sm. Also, you can add the following system values with grid-gap:

  • grid-gap-2px
  • grid-gap-05
  • grid-gap-1
  • grid-gap-2
  • grid-gap-3
  • grid-gap-4
  • grid-gap-5
  • grid-gap-6

The following example row and code illustrate large gutters.

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.grid-col-4
.grid-col-4
.grid-col-4
<div class="grid-row grid-gap-lg">
  <div class="grid-col-4">
    <div>.grid-col-4</div>
  </div>
  <div class="grid-col-4">
    <div>.grid-col-4</div>
  </div>
  <div class="grid-col-4">
    <div>.grid-col-4</div>
  </div>
</div>

Sass mixins

When generating your CSS from USWDS source files, you have the option of customizing many system defaults by modifying project theme variables. USWDS also provides grid mixins for adding grid functionality to custom semantic component CSS.

Variables

Variables and maps determine the number of columns, gutter width, and media-query point at which to begin floating columns. We use variables to generate the predefined grid classes documented on this page, as well as for the custom mixins noted under USWDS-theme-spacing.scss and USWDS-theme-utilities.scss.

uswds-theme-spacing.scss

// Values are set as units tokens.

$theme-column-gap-sm:               2px;
$theme-column-gap-md:               2;
$theme-column-gap-lg:               3;
$theme-column-gap-mobile:           2;
$theme-column-gap-desktop:          4;
$theme-grid-container-max-width:    'desktop';
$theme-site-margins-breakpoint:     'desktop';
$theme-site-margins-width:          4;
$theme-site-margins-mobile-width:   2;

uswds-theme-utilities.scss

// Turn on or off breakpoints
$theme-utility-breakpoints: (
  'card':              false,   // 160px
  'card-lg':           false,   // 240px
  'mobile':            false,   // 320px
  'mobile-lg':         true,    // 480px
  'tablet':            true,    // 640px
  'tablet-lg':         false,   // 880px
  'desktop':           true,    // 1024px
  'desktop-lg':        false,   // 1200px
  'widescreen':        false,   // 1400px
);

Mixins

Mixins can be used in conjunction with grid variables to add grid functionality to semantic component Sass.

// Creates a wrapper for a series of rows
// $container-size can be mobile, mobile-lg, tablet, tablet-lg, desktop, desktop-lg, or widescreen
@include grid-container;
@include grid-container($container-size);

// Creates a wrapper for a series of columns
@include grid-row;

// Specify the width between columns
// $gap-size can be sm, md, lg, 2px, 05, 1, 3, 4, 6
@include grid-gap;
@include grid-gap($gap-size);

// Make the element full-width
@include u-width(full);

// Specify the number of columns the element should span
// $columns can be auto, fill, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
@include grid-col;
@include grid-col($columns);

// Get fancy by offsetting or changing the display order
// $offset can be none, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
@include grid-offset($offset);

// $order can be first, last, initial, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
@include u-order($order);

Example usage

You can modify the variables to your custom values or just use the mixins with their default values. Here’s an example of using the default settings to create a two-column layout with a gap.

.example-container {
  @include grid-container;
}

.example-row {
  @include grid-row;

  // Add column gaps
  &.content-row {
    @include grid-gap;
  }
}

.example-content-main {
  @include u-width(full);

  @include at-media(tablet) {
    @include grid-col(6);
  }

  @include at-media(desktop) {
    @include grid-col(8);
  }
}

.example-content-secondary {
  @include u-width(full);

  @include at-media(tablet) {
    @include grid-col(6);
  }

  @include at-media(desktop) {
    @include grid-col(4);
  }
}

Latest updates

Meaningful code and guidance updates are listed in the following table:

Date USWDS version Affects Breaking Description
2022-03-11 N/A
  • Guidance
  • Styles
No

Updated value of tablet-lg from 800px to 880px. More information: uswds-site#1474

2021-12-02 N/A
  • Guidance
No

Updated value of desktop from 1040px to 1024px. More information: uswds-site#1361