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An Introduction to Bootstrap Glyphicons: How to Add Them

Glyphicons are a set of icons that you can add to your website to help beautify your webpage. In most cases, they are used in place of a text and this further enhances the visual display of the webpage.

These icons were used in Bootstrap 3 but were discontinued in Bootstrap 4, so alternatively you can use the Bootstrap icons.

In this article, you will learn all there is to know about Bootstrap Glyphicons and how to add them to your project.

Let’s dive right in 🚀

Getting Started with Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a powerful front-end toolkit built-in with CSS and JavaScript and includes pre-made components such as navbars, modals, tabs, buttons, etc which can be used in creating mobile-first, responsive websites. Bootstrap helps you craft responsive and dynamic layouts for your website effortlessly in addition to quickly get started with stylings.

For even more tab components, check out the Purecode AI marketplace with 10,000+ Tailwind CSS, CSS3, and MUI components. It is a great resource that can save you time in implementing responsive tab designs.

Setting Up Your Bootstrap Environment

In setting up your Bootstrap environment, you can make use of code editors like VS Code, Sublime Text, etc. But for this article, I will use the VS Code editor.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up Bootstrap for your project.

  1. Open your code editor (VS code) create a folder of your choice and create a new file index.html (you can give it any name of your choice) You can generate a boilerplate same as above by typing ! and the enter key.
  2. To add Bootstrap to your project, there are three ways to do; you could either download the javascript and CSS files and add them directly to your project folder or use the CDN bundle which contains two scripts i.e one for the CSS and one for the Javascript or lastly you could use the npm or yarn to install it locally into our project.
  3. To install Bootstrap using the CDN method, you can just navigate to the Bootstrap website, scroll to the CDN via jsDelivr, and copy the link.
  4. Paste the copied code into your index.html file. Place the CSS link in the header tag and place the javascript tag at the bottom.
  5. At this point, you have successfully installed Bootstrap into your project. You can test if your bootstrap setup is working by typing a few lines of code displaying it on your web browser and noting the difference.

Exploring the Bootstrap Grid System

The Bootstrap grid system is a structure that uses a series of containers, rows, and columns to layout and aligns content and to place elements systematically and responsively on the web page.

The grid system allows a total of 12 columns across the page.

The grid system also has some rules it follows, some of the important ones are;

  • It is a must to place rows inside a .container this aids in proper alignment and padding.

For example:

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
  • The rows should be used to create horizontal group columns. This means that the column element should come immediately after the row.


<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="col-3"></div>
    <div class="col-4"></div>
    <div class="col-3"></div>
    <div class="col-2"></div>

Remember that the Bootstrap grid system only allows 12 groups of columns, so therefore while adding a column to your project make sure it sums up to 12 columns just as the example above.

  • Place your content within the column element.

Leveraging Bootstrap’s Typography and Components

Bootstrap Typography allows you to create components such as headings, paragraphs, ordered lists, unordered lists, etc., responsively and appealingly.

Bootstrap typography is used in styling text elements such as h1 down to h6, p tags, etc. You can note a big difference between when you make use of Bootstrap in your project and when you don’t make use of Bootstrap.

Bootstrap also provides components that can help users speed up their production process which in turn makes the webpage look more appealing. Some of these components include the Bootstrap Alert, Badge, Breadcrumb, Buttons, Card, Dropdown, Forms, Input, List Group, Media Object, Nav, popover, etc.

You can find out more about the bootstrap component from their website.

Importance Of Visual Elements in Development

Adding visual elements to a web page is very important as it gives your webpage a more appealing, engaging, and memorable look. These elements can be utilized in many ways which include grabbing the attention of users, easy explanation of context, communication of a brand, and enhanced user experience.

What are Glyphicons mainly used for in Bootstrap?

Glyphicons can be referred to as a set of graphical texts, icons, and symbols that can be used to represent an object or function on a web page.

These icons can be used in so many ways such as in representing a user interface like buttons, navigation links, etc.

Getting Started with Glyphicons

There are three methods that you can use in adding the bootstrap glypicons to your project and they include using the npm, CDN, or downloading the icons into your local storage and adding them directly from your local storage.

To add the Bootstrap Glyphicon using the CDN method, firstly you have to navigate to the icon website, where you can see all the available icons. Scroll down to the install section and then copy the CDN link and paste it into your html file.

By completing the above step, you have successfully added the bootstrap icons to your project.

You can also include the Bootstrap glyphicons icon into your html file by writing the code in between the <body> opening and closing tags.

Here is an example of how you can add the Glyphicon in Bootstrap 5;

      <a href="#"> <i class="bi bi-house"></i> Home </a>
      <a href="#"> <i class="bi bi-telephone-fill"></i> Contact Us </a>
Creating a new file in VS Code

Adding the Bootstrap Glyphicon in Bootstrap 3 has a different method. The YouTube video will show you how to go about adding a glyphicon to your Bootstrap 3 project.

Overview of the Glyphicon Halflings Set

The Glyphicon halfling set consists of a collection variety of small resizable vector icons which is designed for use in web development to easily enhance the visual presentation and provide a more user-friendly interface.

Glyphicons Halflings are not accessed for free and they require licensing, but the creators of these icons have offered them to the bootstrap framework for free. It was first introduced as a part of the Bootstrap 3 framework and can be put into any type of container but most often they are used in a <span> or <i> tag.

Glyphicons Basics

Understanding the structure of Glyphicons

In Bootstrap, each icon is identified with a specific class and wrapped inside either a <span> or <i> tag.

In Bootstrap 3, the glyphicons can be structured as follows;

<span class="glyphicon glyphicon-home">

Bootstrap 5 is mostly structured differently because Bootstrap 5 does not include the Glyphicons by default. They were only used by default in Bootstrap 3 but were removed in Bootstrap 4.

Here is how to add the Glyphicons in Bootstrap 5;

<i class="bi bi-telephone-fill"></i>

You can also choose to make your icons a clickable link. You can achieve this by embedding the glyphicons into an anchor (a) tag.

For example;

      <a href="#"> <i class="bi bi-house"></i> Home </a>
      <a href="#"> <i class="bi bi-telephone-fill"></i> Contact Us </a>
      <a href="#"><i class="bi bi-list"></i> Menu </a>
      <a href="#"><i class="bi bi-truck"></i> Delivery </a>

Available Glyphs

The Glyphicon includes over 250 available glyphs in font format from the Glyphicon Halfling set and is made available for Bootstrap free of cost and can be used anywhere in your project.

Some of these icons include;

glyphicon glyphicon-signal
glyphicon glyphicon-cog
glyphicon glyphicon-trash
glyphicon glyphicon-baby
glyphicon glyphicon-sort
glyphicon glyphicon-triangle
glyphicon glyphicon-indent
glyphicon fullscreen
glyphicon bookmark
glyphicon glyphicon-home
glyphicon glyphicon-file
glyphicon glyphicon-time
glyphicon glyphicon-road
glyphicon glyphicon-download-alt
glyphicon glyphicon-download
glyphicon glyphicon-upload
glyphicon glyphicon-volume-down
glyphicon glyphicon-volume-off
glyphicon glyphicon-camera
glyphicon glyphicon-font
glyphicon glyphicon-bold
glyphicon glyphicon-tag
glyphicon glyphicon-tags
glyphicon glyphicon-books
glyphicon glyphicon-shopping cart
glyphicon glyphicon-align right
glyphicon glyphicon-lock
glyphicon glyphicon-align-left
glyphicon glyphicon-align-center
glyphicon glyphicon-align-justify
glyphicon play-circle
glyphicon glyphicon-star
glyphicon glyphicon-envelope
glyphicon glyphicon-save
glyphicon glyphicon-ok-sign
glyphicon glyphicon-thumbs-down
glyphicon glyphicon-print
glyphicon glyphicon-sort
glyphicon glyphicon-hand-down
glyphicon glyphicon-folder
glyphicon glyphicon-exclamation-sign
glyphicon circle-arrow-left
glyphicon circle-arrow-down
glyphicon dashboard
glyphicon circle-arrow-up
glyphicon picture
glyphicon resize-vertical

Categorization and classification of glyphs

The Glyphicons are categorized into eleven major sets and they include the Basic Set, Halflings set, filetypes set, Smileys set, Humans set, Mind set, Weather set, Camera set, Contagion set, Arrows set, Farm set.

Check out the glyphicon website to view each set category.

Here are examples of commonly used glyphicons and how they can be represented/structured.

Home Icon:

<span class="glyphicon glyphicon-home"></span>


<i  class="bi bi-house"></i>

Search Icon:

<span class="glyphicon glyphicon-search"></span>


<i  class="bi bi-search"></i>

Email Icon:

<span class="glyphicon glyphicon-envelope"></span>


<i class="bi bi-envelope"></i>

User Icon:

<span class="glyphicon glyphicon-user"></span>


<i class="bi bi-person-circle"></i>

Info Icon:

<span class="glyphicon glyphicon-info-sign"></span>


<i class="bi bi-info-circle"></i>

Integration with Bootstrap Components

The glyphicons can be used along with the bootstrap components such as the buttons, badge, card, etc to style some active text on the web page.

Here is how you can go about styling an element for example a button component along with the glyphicon.

<div class="container">
    <button class="btn btn-primary">Delete <i class="bi bi-trash"></i></button>
    <button class="btn btn-secondary">Recycle <i class="bi bi-recycle"></i></button>
    <button class="btn btn-success">Submit <i class="bi bi-file-arrow-down"></i></button>

Just as you can add glyphicons to the button component, you can also use these icons to style and enhance your form’s looks.

You can learn about this through the YouTube link below.

Customization and Styling

In Bootstrap, you can also modify the size and color of Glyphicons using the default Bootstrap utility color or size classes.

Size Modification

To modify the size of glyphicons, you can make use of utility classes like text, lg, sm, etc, or by using custom styles.

Here is an example of how to use these classes;

<div class="container">
  <!-- works perfectly in bootstrap 3 -->
    <span class="glyphicon glyphicon-trash text-lg"></span>
    <span class="glyphicon glyphicon-trash text-sm"></span>

Using Custom style;

<!-- works perfectly in bootstrap 5 -->
  .trash_can {
<div class="container">
    <i class="bi bi-trash trash_can"></i>

Color Modification

Just as in modifying size, Bootstrap also has a default color which you can use in modifying the glyphicon color. These colors include;

$theme-colors: (
  "primary":    $primary,
  "secondary":  $secondary,
  "success":    $success,
  "info":       $info,
  "warning":    $warning,
  "danger":     $danger,
  "light":      $light,
  "dark":       $dark

To add these default colors to your project, firstly you must add them inside a class element with the bootstrap command i.e. btn-success, btn btn-primary, etc.

Here is how you can use these colors on your glyphicon;

  <span class="glyphicon glyphicon-home btn btn-primary"></span>
  <i class="bi bi-home btn btn-primary"></i>

From the example above, you can see how to apply colors to a glyphicon. When you use btn btn-primary, it gives the icon a blue color just as displayed in the image above.

Accessibility Considerations

Glyphicons have proven to be of great importance especially in web development as they help bring out the beauty of a web page and also help convey meaningful content in a web page to users including those with disabilities.

Glyphicons provide descriptive information that can be read easily by screen readers and in turn passed to individuals who make use of these screen readers.

Some of the best practices for screen readers include;

  • Make sure you prepare a website that can be read by digital tools for screen readers.

  • Making use of alt text for images in case those images don’t load on time.

  • Make use of clear fonts on your website

  • Reduce/remove unnecessary animations on your web page

  • Make use of the right color on your web page

Troubleshooting and Common Pitfalls

This section below addresses common pitfalls when working with Bootstrap glyphicons:

Addressing Common Issues when Working with Glyphicons

  • Glyphicons not rendering – check the path to glyphicons CSS/font files

  • Glyphicons showing as boxes – verify glyphicon font is being imported correctly

  • Incorrect positioning – check for conflicts with other CSS rules

  • Improper spacing around glyphicons – set line height to match container

Debugging Tips for Glyphicon Rendering Problems

  • Use browser developer tools to inspect glyphicon elements

  • Check if the glyphicon font is being requested and loaded

  • Toggle glyphicon classes on elements to isolate issues

  • Test with CSS resets like Bootstrap reboot to clear other styles

Handling Browser Compatibility Issues

  • Some browsers may not fully support glyphicon fonts

  • Use @font-face format alternatives like WOFF2/WOFF/TTF

  • Implement fallbacks like PNG sprites or webfonts

  • Check browser support for CSS features like animations

Advanced Usage

You can also animate the glypicons in your project. You can archive this by using the transform and webkit properties in CSS.

Even in responsive designs, the Glyphicons play an important role as they can be used to replace text in most situations. For example, glyphicons can be used in the navigation section to replace the navigation text when the website is reduced to a mobile view.


How to display Glyphicons in Bootstrap 4?

To display a Glyphicon in Bootstrap 4, add the glyphicon and icon class like glyphicon-search to an inline element like <span>. Glyphicons can be sized, colored, and aligned easily.

What is the difference between Glyphicons and Font Awesome?

Glyphicons contains around 250 icons while Font Awesome provides over 1500 icons. Font Awesome has more icon options but needs to be added separately while Glyphicons comes built-in with Bootstrap 3 and 4.

Does Bootstrap 5 support Glyphicons?

No, Glyphicons have been removed from Bootstrap 5. The recommended alternative is to use Font Awesome or Bootstrap Icons.

What are the alternatives to Glyphicons in Bootstrap 5?

The main alternatives are Font Awesome and Bootstrap Icons. Both provide thousands of icons and can be customized in a similar way to Glyphicons.

How to style and customize icons in Bootstrap?

Bootstrap icons can be styled using regular CSS like changing color, font-size, margin, padding, animations, and more. Advanced customization like shadows and gradients are also possible.

Key Differences Between Using Glyphicons in Different Versions of Bootstrap

Table link

The table above summarizes some of the key differences between using Glyphicons in Bootstrap 3, Bootstrap 4, and Bootstrap 5. It highlights that while Glyphicons were built into Bootstrap 3, they have been removed from the latest versions. The table also shows some of the customization and accessibility best practices that still apply when using alternatives like Font Awesome or Bootstrap Icons.

What You Have Learned

Bootstrap can be seen as a powerful front-end toolkit built-in with CSS and JavaScript and includes pre-made components such as navbars, modals, tabs, buttons, etc which can be used in creating mobile-first, responsive websites.

Glyphicons are a set of icons that you can add to your website to help beautify your webpage. In most cases, they are used in place of a text and this further enhances the visual display of the webpage.

Also, the Glyphicons are categorized into eleven major sets and they include the Basic Set, Halflings set, filetypes set, Smileys set, Humans set, Mind set, Weather set, Camera set, Contagion set, Arrows set, Farm set.

Remember, if you need pre-made, responsive tab components for your sites and applications, be sure to leverage Purecode AI’s vast library of over 10,000 Tailwind CSS, CSS3, and MUI elements. With customizable tab designs just a few clicks away, you can focus on rapidly building instead of repeatedly crafting tab components from scratch.

Emmanuel Uchenna

Emmanuel Uchenna

Emmanuel is an experienced and enthusiastic software developer and technical writer with 4+ proven years of professional experience. He focuses on full-stack web development. He is fluent in React, TypeScript, VueJS, and NodeJS and familiar with industry-standard technologies such as version control, headless CMS, and JAMstack. He is passionate about knowledge sharing.