An overview of Bootstrap, how to download and use, basic templates and examples, and more.

Looking for Bootstrap 2.3.2 docs? We've moved it to a new home while we push forward with Bootstrap 3. Read the blog for details.

There are a few easy ways to quickly get started with Bootstrap, each one appealing to a different skill level and use case. Read through to see what suits your particular needs.

Download compiled CSS and JS

The fastest way to get started is to get the compiled and minified versions of our CSS and JavaScript. No documentation or original source files are included.

Download Bootstrap

More download options

Download latest source code

Get the original files for all CSS and JavaScript by downloading the latest version directly from GitHub.

Clone or fork via GitHub

Clone the entire project or fork your own version of Bootstrap to make it your own by visiting us on GitHub.

Install with Bower

Install and manage the original files for all CSS and JavaScript, along with a local copy of the docs, using Bower.

$ bower install bootstrap

Use the Bootstrap CDN

The folks over at NetDNA have graciously provided CDN support for Bootstrap's CSS and JavaScript. To use, swap your local instances for the Bootstrap CDN links listed below.

1 <!-- Latest compiled and minified CSS -->
2 <link rel="stylesheet" href="//netdna.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/3.0.0-rc1/css/bootstrap.min.css">
4 <!-- Latest compiled and minified JavaScript -->
5 <script src="//netdna.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/3.0.0-rc1/js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>

LESS compilation

If you download the original files, you need to compile Bootstrap's LESS files into usable CSS. To do that, Bootstrap only officially supports Recess, Twitter's CSS hinter built on top of less.js.

Within the download you'll find the following directories and files, logically grouping common assets and providing both compiled and minified variations.

Once downloaded, unzip the compressed folder to see the structure of (the compiled) Bootstrap. You'll see something like this:

├── css/
│   ├── bootstrap.css
│   ├── bootstrap.min.css
├── js/
│   ├── bootstrap.js
│   ├── bootstrap.min.js

This is the most basic form of Bootstrap: compiled files for quick drop-in usage in nearly any web project. We provide compiled CSS and JS (bootstrap.*), as well as compiled and minified CSS and JS (bootstrap.min.*).

jQuery required

Please note that all JavaScript plugins require jQuery to be included, as shown in the starter template.

Make use of a super basic HTML template, or dive into a few examples we've started for you. We encourage folks to iterate on these examples and not simply use them as an end result.

Copy and paste the HTML from below to get started with a bare bones Bootstrap document.

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>Bootstrap 101 Template</title>
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <!-- Bootstrap -->
    <link href="css/bootstrap.min.css" rel="stylesheet" media="screen">
    <h1>Hello, world!</h1>

    <!-- JavaScript plugins (requires jQuery) -->
    <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery.js"></script>
    <!-- Include all compiled plugins (below), or include individual files as needed -->
    <script src="js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>

    <!-- Enable responsive features in IE8 with Respond.js (https://github.com/scottjehl/Respond) -->
    <script src="js/respond.js"></script>

Looking for more example templates?

Check out the new Examples repository on GitHub, or view them in your browser. Included are over a dozen example templates for building with and extending Bootstrap.

Bootstrap is built to work best in the latest desktop and mobile browsers, meaning older and less advanced browsers might receive a less stylized, though fully functional, version of certain components.

Supported browsers

Specifically, we support the latest versions of the following:

  • Chrome (Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android)
  • Safari (Mac and iOS only, as Windows has more or less been discontinued)
  • Firefox (Mac, Windows)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Opera (Mac, Windows)

Unofficially, Bootstrap should look and behave well enough in Chromium for Linux and Internet Explorer 7, though they are not officially supported.

Internet Explorer 8 and 9

Internet Explorer 8 and 9 are also supported, however, please be aware that many CSS3 properties—e.g., rounded corners and shadows—are not supported by IE8. The placeholder attribute is also not supported in either of these versions.

In addition, Internet Explorer 8 requires the use of respond.js to enable media query support.

IE Compatibility modes

Bootstrap is not supported in the old Internet Explorer compatibility modes. To be sure you're using the latest rendering mode for IE, consider including the appropriate meta tag in your pages.

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">

See this StackOverflow question for more information.

Bootstrap is released under the Apache 2 license and is copyright 2013 Twitter. Boiled down to smaller chunks, it can be described with the following conditions.

It allows you to:

  • Freely download and use Bootstrap, in whole or in part, for personal, company internal or commercial purposes
  • Use Bootstrap in packages or distributions that you create

It forbids you to:

  • Redistribute any piece of Bootstrap without proper attribution
  • Use any marks owned by Twitter in any way that might state or imply that Twitter endorses your distribution
  • Use any marks owned by Twitter in any way that might state or imply that you created the Twitter software in question

It requires you to:

  • Include a copy of the license in any redistribution you may make that includes Bootstrap
  • Provide clear attribution to Twitter for any distributions that include Bootstrap

It does not require you to:

  • Include the source of Bootstrap itself, or of any modifications you may have made to it, in any redistribution you may assemble that includes it
  • Submit changes that you make to Bootstrap back to the Bootstrap project (though such feedback is encouraged)

The full Bootstrap license is located in the project repository for more information.

Customizing Bootstrap is best accomplished when you treat it as another dependency in your development stack. Doing so ensures future upgrades are as easy as possible while also familiarizing yourself to the intricacies of the framework.

Once you've downloaded and included Bootstrap's CSS into your templates, you can move on to customizing the included components. To do so, create a new stylesheet (LESS, if you like, or just plain CSS) to house your customizations.

Compiled or minified?

Unless you plan on reading a good chunk of the compiled CSS, go with the minified. It's the same code, just compacted. Less bandwidth is good, especially in production environments.

From there, include whatever Bootstrap components and HTML content you need to get your template setup. It's best to have a rough idea in mind of modifications to make and content to include, so be sure to spend a brief amount of time on that before moving on.

Customizing components

There are varying degrees to customizing components, but most fall into two camps: light customizations and complete visual overhauls. Luckily, there are plenty of examples of both.

We define light customizations as mostly surface layer changes, things like a color and font changes to existing Bootstrap components. A great example of this is the the Twitter Translation Center (coded by @mdo). Let's look at how to implement the custom button we wrote for this site, .btn-ttc.

Instead of using the provided Bootstrap buttons, which only require just one class to start, .btn, we'll add our own modifier class, .btn-ttc. This will give us a slightly custom look with minimal effort.

<button type="button" class="btn btn-ttc">Save changes</button>

In the custom stylesheet, add the following CSS:

/* Custom button
-------------------------------------------------- */

/* Override base .btn styles */
/* Apply text and background changes to three key states: default, hover, and active (click). */
.btn-ttc:active {
  color: white;
  text-shadow: 0 -1px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25);
  background-color: #007da7;

/* Apply the custom-colored gradients */
/* Note: you'll need to include all the appropriate gradients for various browsers and standards. */
.btn-ttc {
  background-repeat: repeat-x;
  background-image: linear-gradient(top, #009ED2 0%, #007DA7 100%);

/* Set the hover state */
/* An easy hover state is just to move the gradient up a small amount. Add other embellishments as you see fit. */
.btn-ttc:hover {
  background-position: 0 -15px;

Customizing Bootstrap components takes time, but should be straightforward. Look to the source code often and duplicate the selectors you need for your modifications. Placing them after the Bootstrap source makes for easy overriding without complication. To recap, here's the basic workflow:

  • For each element you want to customize, find its code in the compiled Bootstrap CSS. Copy and paste the selector for a component as-is. For instance, to customize the navbar background, just snag .navbar.
  • Add all your custom CSS in a separate stylesheet using the selectors you just copied from the Bootstrap source. No need for prefacing with additional classes or using !important here.
  • Rinse and repeat until you're happy with your customizations.

Going beyond light customizations and into visual overhauls is just as straightforward as the above custom button. For a site like Karma, which uses Bootstrap as a CSS reset with heavy modifications, more extensive work is involved, but well worth it in the end.

Alternate customization methods

While not recommended for folks new to Bootstrap, you may use one of two alternate methods for customization. The first is modifying the source .less files (making upgrades super difficult), and the second is mapping source LESS code to your own classes via mixins. For the time being, neither options are documented here.

Removing potential bloat

Not all sites and applications need to make use of everything Bootstrap has to offer, especially in production environments where bandwidth literally becomes a financial issue. We encourage folks to remove whatever is unused with our Customizer.

Using the Customizer, simply uncheck any component, feature, or asset you don't need. Hit download and swap out the default Bootstrap files with these newly customized ones. You'll get vanilla Bootstrap, but without the features *you* deem unnecessary. All custom builds include compiled and minified versions, so use whichever works for you.