Getting Started

The Morningstar Design System is a collection of brand, visual, UX, and technical standards built into a central library so that teams can quickly build high-quality, consistent experiences.

For Designers

The System is organized into three primary sections: Visual Language, Libraries, and About MDS. Exploring these sections will help familiarize you with Morningstar design principles and patterns, and show you which existing components you can use in your product.

Visual Language

Visual Language contains the critical building blocks of the look and feel of Morningstar products. Here, you will find details and guidelines on Color, Typography, Iconography, and Space, defined as reusable variables called Constants. Constants are threaded throughout MDS components to maintain a consistent visual style.


Libraries are collections of pre-built components, concepts, and guidelines that solve common design challenges in Morningstar products. To ensure consistency and reusability, components are built using Constants defined in the Visual Language section, and are accompanied by detailed documentation and guidelines for use.

About MDS

About MDS includes a plethora of useful information on topics like Accessibility, Contributing to MDS, Reporting Bugs, and the MDS team’s Development Process.

Sketch Design Assets

This Sketch file contains visual language elements and pre-built designs for each MDS component, defined as reusable symbols.

Download MDS Design Assets (2018-10-29)

Sketch Library Setup

The Craft Library has been retired because Sketch added a native library feature, allowing you to define any .sketch file as a library and access all of its symbols from any file. Library symbols aren't added to your file's symbols page, so your file stays lean and updates to the library file are automatically synced across all files.

By hosting an MDS Sketch Library in a OneDrive folder, we can share a single, centrally managed library of symbols that will automatically update as we add new components and styles to MDS.

Follow the below steps to set up the MDS Sketch Library on your machine:

1. Join the MDS Design Assets Office365 group.

2. Go to the MDS Design Assets SharePoint page and click follow in the top right corner. This will add the group's shared files to your personal OneDrive page.

3. Head to your personal OneDrive page and click the MDS Design Assets group in the left navigation.

4. Click the Sync button in the toolbar to sync the MDS Design Assets folder to your machine. If you haven't installed OneDrive on your machine yet, you'll need to download the application through the App Store and follow the setup instructions.

5. In Sketch, open the preferences pane and navigate to the Libraries tab. Click Add Library... in the lower left corner and select the MDS Sketch Library file in the local OneDrive folder you set up in the previous step.

6. You're all set! You can now access all the MDS Sketch Library symbols in any file from the Insert menu.

Usage Tips

  • If an update is available for the MDS Sketch Library, you will see a notification in the top right corner of Sketch. Click the message to review the updates and apply them to your files.
  • If you double click a library symbol in your file you will see a dialog that says "This Symbol belongs to an external Library." Always choose Unlink from Library. The shared MDS Sketch Library file is locked to prevent accidental editing.
  • To convert a library symbol into a folder with workable layers, right click the symbol and choose Detach from Symbol.

Icon Creation Templates

Use these Adobe Illustrator templates when creating new icons for MDS.

Download Default Icon Template (v1.0)

Download Small Icon Template (v1.0)

Brand Guidelines

Morningstar's brand guidelines are documented on a separate documentation site where you can find details on topics such as:

  • Brand philosophy
  • Logo files and usage
  • Print specifications
  • Morningstar's intellectual property
  • Presentation templates
  • Event planning and design

The brand guide is password protected, if you need credentials to access these resources please reach out on Slack in the #design channel or email

For Engineers

Installing MDS

Install MDS using Node package management (NPM).

  1. Add an .npmrc file to your product (or update your existing one) with the following line:

    registry =

    This will point your product to Morningstar‘s internal NPM server where the latest version of MDS can be retrieved.

  2. Then, install MDS in your product via NPM:

    npm install morningstar-design-system --save


If you cannot use NPM, install MDS by downloading a ZIP file containing the latest release. This process will be repeated each time you upgrade MDS.


Load MDS styles externally by using Morningstar’s CDN service:

MDS v1

1.16.0 latest published on CDN

<link rel="stylesheet" href="[version_number]/dist/docs/assets/styles/mds_library.css">

MDS v2

2.9.0 latest published on CDN

<link rel="stylesheet" href="[version_number]/dist/mds.css">

Update [version_number] in the URL address to reflect the version of MDS you would like to load.

  • Please note each major version of MDS has a different file path.

Using CSS

The easiest way to include MDS styles is by adding a link to the precompiled mds.css file:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/path/to/mds.css">

In the NPM package this file is found at: /dist/mds.css

Font Paths

mds.css expects the MDS font files to be located at ../fonts. When adding mds.css to your product, place it in a directory at the same level as the directory containing the MDS fonts:

├── fonts
└── styles
    └── mds.css

Using SCSS

Use MDS source SCSS files to mix MDS constants, mixins and components with your own product‘s SCSS files.

Importing SCSS

You can @import individual MDS component SCSS files as needed. Each component's SCSS file will automatically include all the necessary visual-language and util SCSS files needed. For example, if your project needs MDS form elements and buttons, include:

/* your-project.scss */
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/form/form';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/button/button';

To include all MDS components using full NPM package paths:

@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/constants/constants';

@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/utils/accessibility';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/borders';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/color';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/fonts';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/layering';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/shape';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/size';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/typography';

@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/alert/alert';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/button/button';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/button_group/button_group';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/card/card';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/combo_box/combo_box';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/container/container';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/data_table/data_table';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/dialog/dialog';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/form/form';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/icon/icon';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/layout_grid/layout_grid';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/link/link';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/list_group/list_group';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/loader/loader';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/masthead/masthead';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/menu/menu';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/modal/modal';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/navigation_container/navigation_container';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/notification/notification';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/page_shell/page_shell';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/pagination/pagination';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/popover/popover';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/range_slider/range_slider';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/search_field/search_field';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/site_navigation/site_navigation';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/stepper/stepper';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/switch/switch';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/tag/tag';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/tooltip/tooltip';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/components/top_hat/top_hat';

Overriding MDS Styles with SCSS

By controlling which SCSS files you @import into your product, you can control when and how you override the styles MDS provides. The MDS Core team expects products to override and modify imported SCSS files on an as-needed basis.

Font Asset Path

Override the default font asset path, ../fonts/, as needed by setting the $mds-font-asset-path variable before importing MDS fonts.

$mds-font-asset-path: 'my/path/to/fonts/';
@import 'node_modules/morningstar-design-system/styles/visual-language/fonts';

Applying Visual Style


MDS threads global variables, or Constants, throughout the component library for visual consistency. Use MDS constants as SCSS variables to apply the MDS Visual Language to your product‘s components.

  • SCSS variables node_modules/morningstar-design-system/constants/constants.scss


MDS uses an SVG icon sprite that contains all MDS Icons. The icon sprite is located at:


Place the sprite in the webroot of your product to use an absolute path reference.

<svg class="mds-icon" aria-hidden="true">
    <use xlink:href="/your/path/to/mds.svg#heart">

The icon sprite uses a hash syntax to retrieve the correct icon (in the example above, the #heart icon). Refer to the Icons documentation for all of the icon sprite names.

IE 11 Support

The MDS icons depend on the svg4everybody polyfill for IE 11 compatibility.

Using Components

Refer to UI Component pages such as Button for how to implement components individually. In general, you should:

  • Structure component markup exactly as depicted in documentation examples. Any deviation in DOM structure may result in broken layouts and user interface bugs.
  • Extend components using BEM CSS methodology that's used as the foundation of MDS.
  • Use JavaScript conventions required for your application framework for creating and destroying elements within the DOM.

External Dependencies


The Morningstar Design System has no external stylesheet dependencies. All the styles required to render UI Components are contained in mds.css.

SCSS Compiler

A SCSS compiler is required when using MDS constants. See the Using SCSS section for information about using .scss files in your project.

SCSS Post Processing

MDS optimizes for performance and widens browser support using two CSS post processors: CleanCSS and AutoPrefixer. If you're compiling MDS SCSS files, add these post processors to your build toolchain to comply with MDS' browser support and performance requirements.

AutoPrefixer Config

Configure AutoPrefixer with the following:

    browsers: ['last 2 versions'],
    grid: true

CleanCSS Config

Configure CleanCSS with the following:

    level: 2


MDS does not provide JavaScript with UI Components.

JavaScript examples in MDS documentation are for demonstration purposes only. The Morningstar Design System team cannot provide technical support for JavaScript-based issues.

All component markup and styles provided are intended for production use, and the MDS core team expects that any JavaScript necessary to create or manipulate components will be provided by product teams.

Three System UI Components require third-party JavaScript libraries to function:

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