GNOME Human Interface Guidelines

Whether you are a developer or a designer, these guidelines contain everything you need to design effective applications using GTK. They cover design principles for GNOME 3, common guidelines such as how to write text and use images and icons, as well as a library of design patterns which you can use in your application.

While the HIG places an emphasis on designing for GNOME 3, it can also be used to create cross-platform applications, as well as for applications that have previously followed the GNOME 2 Human Interface Guidelines. The compatibility guidelines contain more information on this.

Core material

Patterns and user interface elements form the core of the HIG. Together, they are the building blocks for application design. If you are new to the HIG, it is recommended that you start with the page on design principles and then browse the patterns, before going on to other material.

Design principles

General design guidelines and advice.


Essential and optional design components.

User interface elements

Guidelines on common elements, such as buttons, progress bars and popovers.

Common guidelines

These guidelines apply to the full range of design elements. It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with them.

Application basics

Basic application behavior and characteristics.


Using the HIG for cross-platform or GNOME 2 style applications.

Visual layout

Arranging elements within user interfaces.

Writing style

Writing text for your user interface, including capitalization rules.

Icons and artwork

Guidelines on selecting and creating icons.


Advice on font sizes, weights and styles, as well as special characters.

Pointer and touch input

Mouse, touchpad and touchscreen interaction.

Keyboard input

Keyboard navigation, access and shortcut keys.

Display compatibility

How to support different device and display types.