To save you from having to type the same value in your theme over and over, or to allow you to base one value on another, the theme language supports variables.

Define a variable

Variables consist of the key name preceded by a dollar sign ($) (e.g., $base-font-size). Any qualified key that has already been defined can be referenced in the value of another key. In order words, as soon as the key is assigned, it’s available to be used as a variable.

Variables are defined from top to bottom (i.e., in document order). Therefore, a variable must be defined before it is referenced. In other words, the path the variable refers to must be above the usage of that variable.

For example, once the following line is processed,

  font-color: #333333

the variable $base-font-color will be available for use in subsequent lines and will resolve to #333333.

Let’s say you want to make the font color of the sidebar title the same as the heading font color. Just assign the value $heading-font-color to the $sidebar-title-font-color.

  font-color: #191919
    font-color: $heading-font-color

Use a variable in a math expression

You can also use variables in math expressions to use one value to build another. This is commonly done to set font sizes proportionally. It also makes it easy to test different values very quickly.

  font-size: 12
  font-size-large: $base-font-size * 1.25
  font-size-small: $base-font-size * 0.85

We’ll cover more about math expressions later.

Custom variables

You can define arbitrary key names to make custom variables. This is one way to group reusable values at the top of your theme file. If you are going to do this, it’s recommended that you organize the keys under a custom namespace, such as brand.

For instance, here’s how you can define your brand colors:

  primary-color: #E0162B (1)
  secondary-color: '#FFFFFF' (2)
  alert-color: '0052A5' (3)
1 To align with CSS, you may add # in front of the hex color value to coerce it to a string. A YAML preprocessor is used to ensure the value is not treated as a comment as would normally be the case in YAML.
2 You may put single quotes around the CSS-style hex value to make it friendly to a YAML editor or validation tool.
3 The leading # on a hex value is entirely optional. However, we recommend that you always use either a leading # or surrounding quotes (or both) to prevent YAML from mangling the value (for example, 000000 would become 0, so use '000000' or #000000 instead).

You can now use these custom variables later in the theme file:

  font-color: $brand-primary-color