Asciidoctor PDF Theming

Asciidoctor PDF includes a theming system that allows you to control the layout and styling of the PDF that Asciidoctor PDF generates from AsciiDoc. The theming system comes with a default theme as well as several additional built-in themes.

If you’re just seeking a professional-looking result, the default theme may suit your needs. Other built-in themes offer variations on this style for different needs, such as print-optimized styling, extended character support (including emoji), or a sans serif font.

If you want to customize the layout and styling of the PDF, you can extend one of the built-in themes to change or add styles or you can develop a custom theme from scratch.

Theme configuration and language

The Asciidoctor PDF theming system is driven by a YAML data file. The Asciidoctor PDF theme language is described using YAML and incorporates many concepts from CSS and SASS, such as selectors, properties, and inheritance. Therefore, if you have a background in web design, the terminology should be immediately familiar to you. Note, however, that the theming system is not actually CSS.

When a theme file is loaded, it gets converted to a flat theme map. The converter uses the information stored in the keys of the theme map to help construct the PDF.

You can use the built-in themes found in the data/themes directory of the project’s repository as a reference.

Theme capabilities

The theme can generally influence PDF settings, page numbering, font properties, background and borders, character selections, spacings, and running content. It has limited influence over the layout of elements on the page. If your theming requirements demand more than what this theming system can accommodate, you can extend the converter to gain more control over the layout and style.

Built-in themes

Asciidoctor PDF provides the following built-in themes:


A barebones theme that provides rudimentary styling to support AsciiDoc content. Useful as a starting point when developing a custom theme.


Used if no theme is specified. Optimized for screen. Uses a serif base font.


A variation of the default theme that includes fallback fonts to provide extended Unicode character support, including emoji and commonly used CJK characters.


A variation of the default theme that is optimized for print. Used if no theme is specified and media=print or media=prepress.


A combination of the default and default-with-font-fallback themes.


A variation of the default theme that uses a sans base font.


A variation of the default-sans theme that includes fallback fonts to provide extended Unicode character support, including emoji and commonly used CJK characters.

Refer to Apply a Theme to learn how to apply a theme.

Syntax highlighter style

If you’ve enabled a source highlighter, you can control the style (aka theme) it applies to source blocks using the coderay-style, pygments-style, and rouge-style attributes, respectively. For example, to configure Rouge to use the built-in monokai theme, run Asciidoctor PDF as follows:

$ asciidoctor-pdf -a rouge-style=monokai basic-example.adoc

It’s possible to develop your own theme for Rouge. Refer to Source Highlighting Themes for details.