Navigation and Search

Customize site navigation and search for your Docsy site.

Top-level menu

The top level menu (the one that appears in the top navigation bar for the entire site) uses your site’s main menu. All Hugo sites have a main menu array of menu entries, accessible via the .Site.Menus site variable and populatable via page front matter or your site’s config.toml.

To add a page or section to this menu, add it to the site’s main menu in either config.toml or in the destination page’s front matter (in or _index.html for a section, as that’s the section landing page). For example, here’s how we added the Documentation section landing page to the main menu in this site:

title: "Welcome to Docsy"
linkTitle: "Documentation"
    weight: 20
    pre: <i class='fas fa-book'></i>

The menu is ordered from left to right by page weight. So, for example, a section index or page with weight: 30 would appear after the Documentation section in the menu, while one with weight: 10 would appear before it.

If you want to add a link to an external site to this menu, add it in config.toml, specifying the weight.

    name = "GitHub"
    weight = 50
    url = ""

Adding icons to the top-level menu

As described in the Hugo docs, you can add icons to the top-level menu by using the pre and/or post parameter for main menu items defined in your site’s config.toml or via page front matter. For example, the following configuration adds the GitHub icon to the GitHub menu item, and a New! alert to indicate that this is a new addition to the menu.

    name = "GitHub"
    weight = 50
    url = ""
    pre = "<i class='fab fa-github'></i>"
    post = "<span class='alert'>New!</span>" 

You can find a complete list of icons to use in the FontAwesome documentation. Docsy includes the free FontAwesome icons by default.

Adding a version drop-down

If you add some [params.versions] in config.toml, the Docsy theme adds a version selector drop down to the top-level menu.

You can find out more in the guide to versioning your docs.

Adding a language drop-down

If you configure more than one language in config.toml, the Docsy theme adds a language selector drop down to the top-level menu. Selecting a language takes the user to the translated version of the current page, or the home page for the given language.

You can find out more in Multi-language support.

Section menu

The section menu, as shown in the left side of the docs section, is automatically built from the content tree. Like the top-level menu, it is ordered by page or section index weight (or by page creation date if weight is not set), with the page or index’s Title, or linkTitle if different, as its link title in the menu. If a section subfolder has pages other than or _index.html, those pages will appear as a submenu, again ordered by weight. For example, here’s the metadata for this page showing its weight and title:

title: "Navigation and Search"
linkTitle: "Navigation and Search"
date: 2017-01-05
weight: 3
description: >
    Customize site navigation and search for your Docsy site.

To hide a page or section from the left navigation menu, set toc_hide: true in the front matter.

To hide a page from the section summary on a docs section landing page, set hide_summary: true in the front matter. If you want to hide a page from both the TOC menu and the section summary list, you need to set both toc_hide and hide_summary to true in the front matter.

title: "My Hidden Page"
weight: 99
toc_hide: true
hide_summary: true
description: >
    Page hidden from both the TOC menu and the section summary list.

Section menu options

By default, the section menu shows the current section fully expanded all the way down. This may make the left nav too long and difficult to scan for bigger sites. Try setting site parameter ui.sidebar_menu_compact = true in config.toml.

With the compact menu (.ui.sidebar_menu_compact = true), only the current page’s ancestors, siblings and direct descendants are shown. You can use the optional parameter .ui.ul_show to set a desired menu depth to always be visible. For example, with .ui.ul_show = 1 the first menu level is always displayed.

As well as the completely expanded and compact menu options, you can also create a foldable menu by setting the site parameter ui.sidebar_menu_foldable = true in config.toml. The foldable menu lets users expand and collapse menu sections by toggling arrow icons beside the section parents in the menu.

On large sites (default: > 2000 pages) the section menu is not generated for each page, but cached for the whole section. The HTML classes for marking the active menu item (and menu path) are then set using JS. You can adjust the limit for activating the cached section menu with the optional parameter .ui.sidebar_cache_limit.

Add icons to the section menu

You can add icons to the section menu in the sidebar by setting the icon parameter in the page front matter (e.g. icon: fas fa-tools).

You can find a complete list of icons to use in the FontAwesome documentation. Docsy includes the free FontAwesome icons by default.

Out of the box, if you want to use icons, you should define icons for all items on the same menu level in order to ensure an appropriate look. If the icons are used in a different way, individual CSS adjustments are likely necessary.

By default the section menu is entirely generated from your section’s pages. If you want to add a manual link to this menu, such as a link to an external site or a page in a different section of your site, you can do this by creating a placeholder page file in the doc hierarchy with the appropriate weight and some special parameters in its metadata (frontmatter) to specify the link details.

To create a placeholder page, create a page file as usual in the directory where you want the link to show up in the menu, and add a manualLink parameter to its metadata. If a page has manualLink in its metadata, Docsy generates a link for it in the section menu for this page and in the section index (the list of the child pages of a section on a landing page - see description in the Docsy docs), but the link destination is replaced by the value of manualLink. The link text is the title (or linkTitle if set) of your placeholder page. You can optionally also set the title attribute of the link with the parameter manualLinkTitle and a link target with manualLinkTarget - for example if you want an external link to open in a new tab you can set the link target to _blank. Docsy automatically adds rel=noopener to links that open new tabs as a security best practice.

You can also use manualLink to add an additional cross reference to another existing page of your site. For internal links you can choose to use the parameter manualLinkRelref instead of manualLink to use the built-in Hugo function relref. If relref can’t find a unique page in your site, Hugo throws a error message.

Breadcrumb navigation is enabled by default. To disable breadcrumb navigation, set site param ui.breadcrumb_disable = true in config.toml.

Site search options

Docsy offers multiple options that let your readers search your site content, so you can pick one that suits your needs. You can choose from:

  • Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE), the default option, which uses Google’s index of your public site to generate a search results page.
  • Algolia DocSearch, which uses Algolia’s indexing and search mechanism, and provides an organized dropdown of search results when your readers use the search box. Algolia DocSearch is free for public documentation sites.
  • Local search with Lunr, which uses Javascript to index and search your site without the need to connect to external services. This option doesn’t require your site to be public.

If you enable any of these search options in your config.toml, a search box displays in the right of your top navigation bar. By default a search box also displays at the top of the section menu in the left navigation pane, which you can disable if you prefer, or if you’re using a search option that only works with the top search box.

Be aware that if you accidentally enable more than one search option in your config.toml you may get unexpected results (for example, if you have added the .js for Algolia DocSearch, you’ll get Algolia results if you enable GCSE search but forget to disable Algolia search).

By default, the search box appears in both the top navigation bar and at the top of the sidebar left navigation pane. If you don’t want the sidebar search box, set sidebar_search_disable to true in config.toml:

sidebar_search_disable = true

Configure search with a Google Custom Search Engine

By default Docsy uses a Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE) to search your site. To enable this feature, you’ll first need to make sure that you have built and deployed a production version of your site, as otherwise your site won’t be crawled and indexed.

  1. Create a Google Custom Search Engine for your deployed site by clicking New search engine on the Custom Search page and following the instructions. Make a note of the ID for your new search engine.

  2. Add any further configuration you want to your search engine using the Edit search engine options. In particular you may want to do the following:

    • Select Look and feel. Change from the default Overlay layout to Results only, as this option means your search results are embedded in your search page rather than appearing in a separate box. Click Save to save your changes.
    • Edit the default result link behavior so that search results from your site don’t open in a new tab. To do this, select Search Features - Advanced - Websearch Settings. In the Link Target field, type “_parent”. Click Save to save your changes.

Adding the search page

Once you have your search engine set up, you can add the feature to your site:

  1. Ensure you have a Markdown file in content/en/ (and one per other languages if needed) to display your search results. It only needs a title and layout: search, as in the following example:

    title: Search Results
    layout: search
  2. Add your Google Custom Search Engine ID to the site params in config.toml. You can add different values per language if needed.

    # Google Custom Search Engine ID. Remove or comment out to disable search.
    gcs_engine_id = "011737558837375720776:fsdu1nryfng"

If you don’t specify a Google Custom Search Engine ID for your project and haven’t enabled any other search options, the search box won’t appear in your site. If you’re using the default config.toml from the example site and want to disable search, just comment out or remove the relevant line.

Configure Algolia DocSearch

As an alternative to GCSE, you can use Algolia DocSearch with this theme. Algolia DocSearch is free for public documentation sites. Docsy supports Algolia DocSearch v3.

Sign up for Algolia DocSearch

Complete the form at

If you are accepted to the program, you will receive the code to add to your documentation site from Algolia by email.

Adding Algolia DocSearch

  1. Enable Algolia DocSearch in config.toml.

    # Enable Algolia DocSearch
    algolia_docsearch = true
  2. Remove or comment out any GCSE ID in config.toml and ensure local search is set to false as you can only have one type of search enabled. See Disabling GCSE search.

  3. Disable the sidebar search in config.toml as this is not currently supported for Algolia DocSearch. See Disabling the sidebar search box.

  4. Add the CSS and JS to use Algolia to the head and body of every page in your site, following the instructions in Add code to head or before body end.

    • In head-end.html add the DocSearch CSS:

      <link rel="stylesheet" href="" />
    • In body-end.html add the DocSearch script, replacing the docsearch details with the snippet you get from Algolia (the example below is Algolia’s own site index!). You must provide #docsearch as your container value as that’s the ID of the div we provide in Docsy’s layout:

      <script src=""></script>
      <script type="text/javascript">docsearch({
        container: '#docsearch',
        appId: 'R2IYF7ETH7',
        apiKey: '599cec31baffa4868cae4e79f180729b',
        indexName: 'docsearch',

You can find out more about how to configure DocSearch in the Algolia DocSearch V3 Getting started guide.

When you’ve completed these steps, Algolia search should be enabled on your site. Search results are displayed as a drop-down under the search box, so you don’t need to add any search results page.

Configure local search with Lunr

Lunr is a Javascript-based search option that lets you index your site and make it searchable without the need for external, server-side search services. This is a good option particularly for smaller or non-public sites.

To add Lunr search to your Docsy site:

  1. Enable local search in config.toml.

    # Enable local search
    offlineSearch = true
  2. Remove or comment out any GCSE ID in config.toml and ensure Algolia DocSearch is set to false, as you can only have one type of search enabled. See Disabling GCSE search.

Once you’ve completed these steps, local search is enabled for your site and results appear in a drop down when you use the search box.

Changing the summary length of the local search results

You can customize the summary length by setting offlineSearchSummaryLength in config.toml.

#Enable offline search with Lunr.js
offlineSearch = true
offlineSearchSummaryLength = 200

You can customize the maximum result count by setting offlineSearchMaxResults in config.toml.

#Enable offline search with Lunr.js
offlineSearch = true
offlineSearchMaxResults = 25

Changing the width of the local search results popover

The width of the search results popover will automatically widen according to the content.

If you want to limit the width, add the following scss into assets/scss/_variables_project.scss.

body {
    .popover.offline-search-result {
        max-width: 460px;

Excluding pages from local search results

To exclude pages from local search results, add exclude_search: true to the the frontmatter of each page:

title: "Index"
weight: 10
exclude_search: true