Color schemes (light/dark) with django CMS#


These notes about the color scheme apply only to the django CMS admin and editing interfaces. The visitor-facing published site is wholly independent of this, and the responsibility of the site developer.

The admin interfaces will only reflect the described behavior if the package djangocms-admin-style is installed (version 3.2 or later). If it is not installed, the admin interface is managed by your underlying Django installation, which usually uses the browser’s color scheme.

Setting the color scheme#

Django CMS’ default color scheme is "light". To change the color scheme use the CMS_COLOR_SCHEME setting in your project’s


This is the default appearance and shows the interface with dark text on a white background.


This so-called dark mode shows light text on a dark background.


The auto mode chooses either light or dark color scheme based on the browser or operating system setting of the user.


If you plan to fix the color scheme to either light or dark, add a corresponding data-theme attribute to the html tag in your base template, e.g.

<html data-theme="light">

This will pin the color scheme early when loading pages and avoid potential flickering if the browser preference differs from the CMS_COLOR_SCHEME setting.

Changed in version 3.11.4: Before version 3.11.4 the color scheme was set by data-color-scheme. Since version 3.11.4 django CMS uses data-theme just as Django since version 4.2.


Not all plugin admin interfaces might support a dark color scheme, especially if plugin forms contain custom widgets.

Toggle button for the color scheme#

The setting CMS_COLOR_SCHEME_TOGGLE in the project’s determines if a toggle icon (sun/moon/auto) is shown in the toolbar. It allows a user to switch their color scheme for their session.

By default, CMS_COLOR_SCHEME_TOGGLE is set to True.

Make your own admin CSS color scheme aware#

Plugin forms or any admin forms use Django’s admin app which itself supports light and dark color schemes. djangocms-admin-style introduces django CMS’ color scheme to the admin app. Just as Django does, djangocms-admin-style defines CSS variables for frequent colors.

We recommend writing at least your reusable apps in a way which allows them to respect the color scheme with djangocms-admin-style and with Django’s admin style.

Here are some recommendations for making your app work as seamlessly as possible:

  • Try avoiding using color, background-color, or other color styles where possible and meaningful.

  • If necessary, use as few as possible standard django CMS colors (preferably from the list below with plain Django fallback colors)

  • Use the following pattern: var(--dca-color-var, var(--fallback-color-var, #xxxxxx)) where #xxxxxx represents the light version of the color. This tries django CMS color scheme first and falls back to Django color scheme if djangocms-admin-style is not available.

  • Avoid media queries like @media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) since they would ignore forced settings to light or dark.

The admin frontend pulls the style from django admin styles and - if present - from djangocms-admin-style. Django itself also uses CSS variables to implement admin mode, these can be used as dark mode-aware fall-back colors.

Here’s a table of django CMS’ CSS color variables and their Django fallbacks:

Variable name






































This leaves these recommendations for color scheme dependent colors:

white:          var(--dca-white, var(--body-bg, #fff))
gray:           var(--dca-gray, var(--body-quiet-color, #666))
gray-lightest:  var(--dca-gray-lightest, var(--darkened-bg, #f2f2f2))
gray-lighter    var(--dca-gray-lighter, var(--border-color, #ddd))
gray-light:     var(--dca-gray-lightest, var(--darkened-bg, #f2f2f2))
gray-primary:   var(--dca-primary, var(--primary, #0bf))
black:          var(--dca-black, var(--body-fg), #000))