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KDE Human Interface Guidelines

The KDE Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) offer application designers and developers a set of recommendations. Their aim is to improve the experience for users by making application interfaces more consistent and hence more intuitive and learnable.

Getting Started

  • Design Vision and Principles - The overall vision and principles that guide the design and development of user interfaces for KDE software.
  • Concept - Creating a project vision, determining the users, and the scenarios of use.
  • Organization - Guidelines on how an application’s content and functionality are ordered and categorized.


This section contains guidelines for application behaviour.

  • Viewing and Navigation - Guidelines on controls and patterns to use for viewing, navigating and performing actions on application content.
  • Editing and Manipulation - Guidelines on controls and patterns to use for selection and input.
  • User Assistance - Guidelines on tooltips, notifications, messages and help.
  • Patterns - Guidelines on how to use controls in different combinations to accomplish specific behaviors.


Presentation deals with the visual design of the user interface.

  • Layout - Guidelines regarding the placement and ordering of onscreen elements. Includes guidance on layout patterns, alignment, size and spacing.
  • Style - Guidelines on the use of colour, icon design and the typography to communicate with a consistent visual vocabulary.
  • Text - Guidelines for the written, language-based elements of the interface. Includes guidelines on wording, capitalization and localization.

Tools and Resources

The following tools and resources are offered to help with following these guidelines.

  • Controls List - A complete listing of all user interface controls and their guidelines in alphabetical order.
  • Mockup Toolkit - Includes UI controls stencils, color swatches and fonts to help create the visual design your application.
  • About the HIG - Learn more about the philosophy behind the KDE HIG.
  • Visual Design Group forum - Ask for help and share your design ideas.

Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.