The theme’s main.css stylesheet is built from several SCSS partials located in /assets/_scss/ and are structured as follows:

minimal mistakes
├── assets
|  ├── _scss
|  |  ├── vendor               # vendor SCSS partials
|  |  |   ├── breakpoint       # media query mixins
|  |  |   ├── font-awesome     # Font Awesome icons
|  |  |   ├── magnific-popup   # Magnific Popup lightbox
|  |  |   └── susy             # Susy grid system
|  |  ├── _animations.scss     # animations
|  |  ├── _archive.scss        # archives (list, grid, feature views)
|  |  ├── _base.scss           # base HTML elements
|  |  ├── _buttons.scss        # buttons
|  |  ├── _footer.scss         # footer
|  |  ├── _masthead.scss       # masthead
|  |  ├── _mixins.scss         # mixins (em function, clearfix)
|  |  ├── _navigation.scss     # nav links (breadcrumb, priority+, toc, pagination, etc.)
|  |  ├── _notices.scss        # notices
|  |  ├── _page.scss           # pages
|  |  ├── _print.scss          # print styles
|  |  ├── _reset.scss          # reset
|  |  ├── _sidebar.scss        # sidebar
|  |  ├── _syntax.scss         # syntax highlighting
|  |  ├── _tables.scss         # tables
|  |  ├── _utilities.scss      # utility classes (text/image alignment)
|  |  ├── _variables.scss      # theme defaults (fonts, colors, etc.)
|  |  └── main.scss            # all SCSS partials are imported here
|  ├── css
|  |  └── main.css             # compiled theme stylesheet


The settings in /assets/_scss/_variables.scss can modify the following aspects of the theme:

Paragraph Indention

To mimic the look of type set in a printed book or manuscript you may want to enable paragraph indention. When $paragraph-indent is set to true indents are added to each sibling and the margin below each paragraph is removed.

indented paragraph example
Example of indented paragraphs.

The size of the indent can also be customized by changing the value of $indent-var.

Font Stacks

By default the theme uses system fonts for all of the font stacks (serif, sans-serif, and monospace). This is done in part to provide a clean base for you to build off of and to improve performance since we aren’t loading any custom webfonts1 by default.

/* system typefaces */
$serif      : Georgia, Times, serif;
$sans-serif : -apple-system, ".SFNSText-Regular", "San Francisco", "Roboto", "Segoe UI", "Helvetica Neue", "Lucida Grande", Arial, sans-serif;
$monospace  : Monaco, Consolas, "Lucida Console", monospace;

Sans-serif fonts have been used for most of the type, with serifs reserved for captions. If you wish to change this you’ll need to poke around the various SCSS partials and modify font-family declarations.

ProTip: To use webfonts from services like Adobe TypeKit or Google Fonts simply update the font stacks and then add their scripts to _includes/head/custom.html.

Typography from Older Versions

Not a fan of the refreshed typography of the theme and want to revert back an older version? Easy enough.

1. Add this Google Fonts script to _includes/head/custom.html:

<link href=",700|PT+Serif:400,700,400italic" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">

2. Update the following variables in assets/_scss/_variables.scss:

$serif              : "PT Serif", Georgia, Times, serif;
$sans-serif-narrow  : "PT Sans Narrow", $sans-serif;

$global-font-family : $serif;
$header-font-family : $sans-serif-narrow;

3. Rebuild main.css by running npm run build:css. See below for more info on the build process.

Type Scale

Wherever possible type scale variables have been used instead of writing out fixed sizes. This makes updating much easier by changing values in one file, _variables.scss.


.page__lead {
  font-family: $global-font-family;
  font-size: $type-size-4;

Type sizes are set in ems to proportional scale as the screen size changes. Large headlines that look great on desktop monitors will shrink ever so slightly as to not be too big on mobile devices. To adjust this hierarchy simply edit the default values:

/* type scale */
$type-size-1 : 2.441em;  // ~39.056px
$type-size-2 : 1.953em;  // ~31.248px
$type-size-3 : 1.563em;  // ~25.008px
$type-size-4 : 1.25em;   // ~20px
$type-size-5 : 1em;      // ~16px
$type-size-6 : 0.75em;   // ~12px
$type-size-7 : 0.6875em; // ~11px
$type-size-8 : 0.625em;  // ~10px


Change the mood of your site by altering a few color variables. $body-color, $background-color, $text-color, $link-color, and $masthead-link-color will have the most affect when changed.

Breakpoints and Grid Stuff

Probably won’t need to touch these, but they’re there if you need to. Width variables are used with the @include breakpoint() mixin to adapt the design of certain elements.

And $susy is used for setting the grid the theme uses. Uncommenting the lines under debug can be useful if you want to show the columns when adjusting the layout.

Susy grid overlay for debugging
Susy grid debug overlay enabled.

The theme does not leverage Jekyll’s built-in support for preprocessing Sass files. Why is that you ask? Autoprefixer! As part of a build step the stylesheet is post processed with Autoprefixer to add vendor prefixes — something not currently possible without a plugin2.

If you plan on making any changes to the .scss partials you will need to rebuild the stylesheet outside of the normal Jekyll workflow.

Sass/SCSS files: You can of course modify the structure of the CSS files to have Jekyll natively process main.scss for you. Just be sure to update the partials to include any vendor prefixes or else things may look off in older browsers.

Build Process

In an effort to reduce dependencies a set of npm scripts are used to build the CSS instead of task runners like Gulp or Grunt. If those tools are more your style then by all means use them instead :wink:.

To get started:

  1. Install Node.js.
  2. cd to the root of your project.
  3. Install all of the dependencies by running npm install.

Note: If you upgraded from a previous version of the theme be sure you copied over package.json prior to running npm install.

If all goes well, running npm run build:css will process all SCSS files into main.css, which should then pipe through Autoprefixer.

Rendering Complete, saving .css file...
Wrote CSS to \assets\css\main.css
  1. Apart from Font Awesome icon webfonts. 

  2. A better solution would be to use the fantastic jekyll-assets plugin to manage your assets if you aren’t hosting with GitHub Pages. Autoprefixer support is built-in :smile: