How to override Bootstrap's default styles

How to override Bootstrap's default styles

Bootstrap, a widely used front-end framework, provides a plethora of pre-designed styles and components that expedite web development. However, to create a unique and tailored design, it’s often necessary to diverge from Bootstrap’s default look. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the art of overriding Bootstrap’s default styles, giving you the creative freedom to craft a website that truly reflects your vision.

Understanding Bootstrap’s Default Styles

Bootstrap’s default styles offer consistency and a polished appearance out of the box. However, they can also limit your design’s distinctiveness. Bootstrap’s CSS is organized into a series of classes that apply predefined styles to elements, making it easy to implement consistent designs across your project.

Why Override Bootstrap’s Styles

While Bootstrap’s styles are versatile, there are several compelling reasons to override them:

  1. Unique Branding: To create a website that aligns with your brand’s identity, you need the flexibility to apply your own color scheme, typography, and design elements.
  2. Visual Cohesion: Bootstrap’s default styles might not perfectly match your desired aesthetic. Overriding styles ensures your design elements work harmoniously together.
  3. Tailored Layouts: Sometimes, the default grid system and spacing might not suit your content. Customizing these aspects allows you to create layouts that enhance content presentation.

Techniques for Overriding Bootstrap Styles

1. Specificity

One way to override Bootstrap styles is to use CSS specificity. When you’re more specific in your selectors, your custom styles will take precedence over Bootstrap’s defaults.

<div class="my-custom-button">Custom Button</div>
.my-custom-button {
  background-color: teal;
  color: white;
  /* More specific styles */

2. !important

While it’s generally recommended to avoid using !important, it can be useful for overriding particularly stubborn Bootstrap styles.

.my-custom-button {
  background-color: purple !important;

3. Custom CSS

Create a custom CSS file and link it after the Bootstrap CSS in your HTML. This allows you to define your styles, which will override Bootstrap’s defaults.

<link href="path/to/bootstrap.css" rel="stylesheet">
<link href="path/to/custom-styles.css" rel="stylesheet">

4. Using Sass Variables

If you’re using the Sass version of Bootstrap, you can customize the look by modifying the Sass variables in the variables.scss file.

$primary-color: #ff5733;
$secondary-color: #6c757d;
// ...

5. Customizing Components

Bootstrap components often come with their own set of classes for customization. Read Bootstrap’s documentation to discover how to modify individual components while maintaining consistency.

6. Utilizing Utility Classes

Bootstrap’s utility classes offer quick adjustments to elements. For example, bg-primary applies the primary color background.

<div class="bg-primary text-white">Custom Element</div>

Ensuring Compatibility

While customization is empowering, it’s essential to strike a balance between your design vision and usability. Here are some tips to ensure compatibility:

  1. Thorough Testing: Test your customized design across various devices and browsers to ensure it remains responsive and functional.
  2. Documentation Reference: Regularly refer to Bootstrap’s official documentation to understand class interactions and potential conflicts.
  3. Backup Styles: Keep a record of your customizations, as updates to Bootstrap might affect your custom styles. This will help you quickly adapt your design to any changes.


Customizing Bootstrap’s default styles is an essential skill for any developer aiming to create a unique and visually appealing website. Balancing creativity with usability is key; while you have the freedom to diverge from the defaults, you should ensure your design remains intuitive and responsive. Remember that effective customization is a mix of experimentation, reference, and meticulous testing. By mastering the art of overriding Bootstrap’s styles, you can achieve a website that stands out while maintaining a professional and user-friendly appearance.