Icons are used for admonition labels, callout numbers and inline symbols. Asciidoctor provides three strategies for display icons: as text, as images, or as characters selected from an icon font. The strategy is controlled using the icons attribute. When an image or font-base icon isn’t available, Asciidoctor displays the icon macro’s fallback text.

Images as icons

If you want icons to display using images, set the icons attribute to an empty value in the document header. This strategy is recommended if you are converting to DocBook or you want an easy way to make HTML for viewing offline. The DocBook toolchain provides images for the admonition and callout icons, which you can replace with your own custom icons. If you use the inline icon macro, you’ll need to provide the images for those icons.

Font-based icons

Alternatively, you can have Asciidoctor “draw” icons using the Font Awesome font-based icon set. To use this feature, set the value of the icons document attribute to font in the document header. You can see the available icons on the icons page. Using Font Awesome provides many more images, but requires online access by default.

The default CSS stylesheet is required when using font-based icons.

Admonition icons

Here’s an example using font icons, starting with the AsciiDoc source:

Set icons attribute in the document header
= Document Title
:icons: font

NOTE: Asciidoctor supports font-based admonition icons, powered by Font Awesome!

Asciidoctor will then emit HTML markup that selects an appropriate font character from the Font Awesome font for each admonition block:

Result: HTML output when the icons attribute is set
<div class="admonitionblock note">
<td class="icon">
<i class="fa icon-note" title="Note"></i>
<td class="content">
Asciidoctor supports font-based admonition icons, powered by Font Awesome!

This is how the admonition looks rendered.

Result: Admonition block label is displayed as an icon when the icons attribute is set
Asciidoctor supports font-based admonition icons, powered by Font Awesome!

Asciidoctor adds a reference to the Font Awesome stylesheet and font files served from a CDN to the document header:

<link rel="stylesheet"

Unicode admonition icons

Instead of image or font-based icons, it’s possible to use Unicode glyphs for admonition icons by applying a little trick.

If the icons attribute is not set on the document, Asciidoctor outputs a textual label that identifies the admonition type. The text for this label comes from an AsciiDoc attribute. The name of the attribute is <type>-caption, where <type> is the admonition type in lowercase. For example, the attribute for a tip admonition is tip-caption.

Instead of a word, you can assign a Unicode glyph to this attribute:

:tip-caption: 💡

It's possible to use Unicode glyphs as admonition icons.

Here’s the HTML that Asciidoctor outputs for the icon cell:

<td class="icon">
<div class="title">💡</div>

Instead of entering the glyph directly, you can enter a character reference instead. However, since you’re defining the character reference in an attribute entry, you (currently) have to disable substitutions on the value.

:tip-caption: pass:[&#128161;]

It's possible to use Unicode glyphs as admonition icons.

On GitHub, the HTML output that Asciidoctor emits is run through a postprocessing filter that substitutes emoji shortcodes with emoji symbols. That means you can use these shortcodes in the value of the attribute:

:tip-caption: :bulb:

It's possible to use emojis as admonition icons on GitHub.

When the document is processed through the GitHub interface, the shortcodes get replaced with real emojis. This is the only known way to get admonition icons to work on GitHub. Give it a try!

Inline icon macro

An icon can be inserted at an arbitrary place in paragraph content with an inline macro.

Here’s an example that inserts the Font Awesome tags icon in front of a list of tag names.

Inline icon macro syntax
icon:tags[] ruby, asciidoctor

Here’s how the HTML converter converts the above syntax when the icons attribute is assigned the font value.

Result: HTML output
<div class="paragraph">
<p><span class="icon"><i class="fa fa-tags"></i></span> ruby, asciidoctor</p>

More importantly, here’s how it looks!

Result: Inline icon macro

ruby, asciidoctor

You can even give the icon color by assigning it a role.

Inline icon macro and role syntax
icon:tags[role="blue"] ruby, asciidoctor
Result: Inline icon macro and role

ruby, asciidoctor

If you aren’t using font-based icons, Asciidoctor looks for icon images on disk, in the iconsdir, naturally. Here’s how the HTML converter converts an icon macro when the icons attribute is not set or empty.

Result: HTML output
<div class="paragraph">
<p><span class="image"><img src="./images/icons/tags.png" alt="tags"></span> ruby, asciidoctor</p>

Here’s how the DocBook converter converts to icon macro. DocBook does not support font-based icons, so the DocBook output is not affected by the value of the icons attribute.

Result: DocBook output
    <imagedata fileref="./images/icons/tags.png"/>
</inlinemediaobject> ruby, asciidoctor
Relationship to the inline image macro

The inline icon macro is similar to the inline image macro with a few exceptions:

  • If the icons attribute has the value font, the macro will translate to a font-based icon in the HTML converter (e.g., <i class="icon-tags"></i>)

  • If the icons attribute does not have the value font, or the converter is DocBook, the macro will insert an image into the document that resolves to a file in the iconsdir directory (e.g., <img src="./images/icons/tags.png">)

The file resolution strategy when using image-based icons is the same used to locate images for the admonition icons. The file extension is set using the icontype attribute, which defaults to PNG (png).

Size, rotate, and flip attributes

The icon macro has a few attributes that can be used to modify the size and orientation of the icon. At the moment, these are specific to Font Awesome and therefore only apply to HTML output when icon fonts are enabled.


First positional attribute; scales the icon; values: 1x (default), 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, lg, fw


Rotates the icon; values: 90, 180, 270


Flips the icon; values: horizontal, vertical

The first unnamed attribute is assumed to be the size. For instance, to make the icon twice the size as the default, simply add 2x inside the square brackets.


This is equivalent to:


And this is how the displays.

The previous example emits the following HTML:

<span class="icon"><i class="fa fa-heart fa-2x"></i></span>

If you want to line up icons so that you can use them as bullets in a list, use the fw size as follows:

icon:bolt[fw] bolt
icon:heart[fw] heart

To rotate and flip the icon, specify these options using attributes:

icon:shield[rotate=90, flip=vertical]

The looks like this.

The previous example emits the following HTML:

<span class="icon"><i class="fa-shield fa-rotate-90 fa-flip-vertical"></i></span>

Like an inline image, it’s possible to add additional metadata to an inline icon.

Below are the possible attributes that apply to both font-based and image-based icons:


The URI target used for the icon, which will wrap the converted icon in a link


The target window of the link (when the link attribute is specified) (HTML converter)

Here’s an example of an icon with a link:


The previous example emits the following HTML:

<span class="icon"><a class="image" href="http://rubygems.org/downloads/asciidoctor-1.5.7.gem"><i class="fa-download"></i></a></span>

Image icon attributes

Below are the possible attributes that apply in the case that font-based icons are not in use:


The alternative text on the <img> tag (HTML backend) or text for <inlinemediaobject> (DocBook converter)


The width applied to the image


The height applied to the image


The title of the image displayed when the mouse hovers over it (HTML converter)


The role applied to the element that surrounds the icon

Currently, the inline icon macro doesn’t support any options to change its physical position (such as alignment left or right).