Set a theme

The theme of a story includes everything from its background and recommended colors to the size and style of its fonts to the symbols in the express maps. Themes blend all of these elements together. ArcGIS StoryMaps offers one-click themes so you can use a predefined visual style for all elements in a story. Authors can also create themes in the theme builder and customize certain elements of a theme to change the specific look and feel of the story.

Create a theme

You can create custom themes to match your organization's branding guidelines or to better fit the tone of your story. When you create a theme, you can customize the following theme elements: colors, typography, buttons, quotes, links, separators, and logo.


You can add a custom logo to the story or collection header under the Customize section of the Design panel. However, if you select a theme with a logo, the theme logo overwrites the custom logo, and the logo options under the Customize section are disabled.

Use the following steps to create a theme:

  1. Browse to the Themes page in ArcGIS StoryMaps by clicking Themes in the website header or from the story builder by clicking Manage my themes in the Theme section of the Design panel.
  2. Click + New theme to launch the theme builder.

    The theme builder displays a sample story with content blocks and a panel for the theme builder options.

  3. Give your theme a title by replacing the Untitled theme text at the top of the panel.
  4. Build your theme by selecting from the following options:

    Theme element



    Story header and footer

    Story background

    Accent colors

    Typography (font and color)

    Title and headings

    Paragraph text

    Caption text


    You can add a font family from Google Fonts for more options when creating a theme. You can also change the font style weights for the selected font family.


    To enable Google Fonts when creating themes for ArcGIS Enterprise accounts, the portal administrator must provide a valid Google Fonts API Key in Organization settings.


    Style and color


    Style, color, and alignment


    Style and color


    Style, color, and position


    Logo image

    Logo link

    Logo alternative text

    As you build your theme, the theme preview scrolls to the active element and the sample story updates to preview how the theme looks with each of the content blocks.

  5. Click Publish to complete the theme building process.

A new item of StoryMap Theme type is added in the ArcGIS Content menu. When a theme is published, you can apply it to a story by selecting it from the Browse themes section of the Design panel.

The parameters of the six standard themes are provided in the table below. These may be useful if you want to create a custom theme based on one of the out-of-the-box options.








Background color







Accent color







Title and heading font family

Avenir Next

Charter BT



Ocean Sans


Title and heading font color







Paragraph font family

Noto Serif

Basic Commercial

Real Head


Mahsuri Sans

Swift Neue

Paragraph font color







Caption font color





# bac8d6


Change the theme

To change the visual style of your story, you can change the theme, which switches the colors, fonts, and other themed elements of the story. You can change the story's theme in the story builder's Design panel.

Use the following steps to change the theme:

  1. Click Design in the header to display the Design panel.

    The current theme card is highlighted in the panel under the Theme section.

  2. Select the theme you want to apply to your story by choosing one of the six standard themes, or click Browse themes to apply a custom theme. You can click Manage my themes to edit a theme or create a new one.

    The My Organization tab includes themes from a designated group in your organization. An administrator can choose which group of themes authors have access to from Organization settings in the user profile menu. You can create custom roles with some administrative privileges to give authors access to Organization settings without giving them the full set of privileges an administrator has. For more information, see Custom roles.

  3. Click outside the panel or click the close button to close the Design panel.

The selected theme is active, and all of the visual elements associated with the new theme are applied.


Collections can also be themed using standard or custom themes. The font pairing of Avenir and Noto Serif is best for stories written in a language other than English. If you are authoring a story in a non-English language, and using a theme other than Summit, you may get better results if you select the Avenir and Noto Serif font pairing in your custom theme.

Use themes with express maps

Express maps are designed to match the look and feel of a story by adopting elements from the available standard themes. For example, each of the six standard themes includes a curated set of basemaps for express maps that complement the story's colors and fonts. Additionally, you can assign the theme's recommended and custom accent colors as layer colors for the drawn features on express maps. For more information, see Add maps.