Aww yeah, Material-UI v4 is here!


As components can be used in different contexts, Material-UI supports different types of customization requirements going from the most specific to the most generic.

  1. Specific variation for a one-time situation
  2. Dynamic variation for a one-time situation
  3. Specific variation of a component re-used in different contexts
  4. Material Design variations such as with the button component
  5. Global theme variation

1. Specific variation for a one-time situation

You might need to change the style of a component for a specific implementation, for which you have the following solutions available:

Overriding with class names

The first way to override the style of a component is to use class names. Every component provides a className property which is always applied to the root element.

This example uses the withStyles() higher-order component to inject custom styles into the DOM, and to pass the class name to the ClassNames component via its classes property. You can choose any other styling solution, or even plain CSS to create the styles, but be sure to consider the CSS injection order, as the CSS injected into the DOM by Material-UI to style a component has the highest specificity possible, since the <link> is injected at the bottom of the <head /> to ensure the components always render correctly.

Overriding with classes

When the className property isn't enough, and you need to access deeper elements, you can take advantage of the classes property to customize all the CSS injected by Material-UI for a given component. The list of classes for each component is documented in the Component API section. For instance, you can have a look at the Button CSS API. Alternatively, you can always look at the implementation details.

This example also uses withStyles() (see above), but here, ClassesNesting is using Button's classes prop to provide an object that maps the names of classes to override (style rules) to the CSS class names to apply (values). The component's existing classes will continue to be injected, so it is only necessary to provide the specific styles you wish to add or override.

Notice that in addition to the button styling, the button label's capitalization has been changed:

Using the dev tools

The browser dev tools can save you a lot of time. The Material-UI's class names follow a simple pattern in development mode: Mui[component name]-[style rule name]-[UUID].

Let's go back to the above demo. How can you override the button label?


Using the dev tools, you know that you need to target the Button component and the label style rule:

<Button classes={{ label: 'my-class-name' }} />


The above code example can be condensed by using the same CSS API as the child component. In this example, the withStyles() higher-order component is injecting a classes property that is used by the Button component.

const StyledButton = withStyles({
  root: {
    background: 'linear-gradient(45deg, #FE6B8B 30%, #FF8E53 90%)',
    borderRadius: 3,
    border: 0,
    color: 'white',
    height: 48,
    padding: '0 30px',
    boxShadow: '0 3px 5px 2px rgba(255, 105, 135, .3)',
  label: {
    textTransform: 'capitalize',

Internal states

The components internal states, like hover, focus, disabled and selected, are styled with a higher CSS specificity. Specificity is a weight that is applied to a given CSS declaration.

In order to override the components internal states, you need to increase specificity. Here is an example with the disable state and the button component using a pseudo-class (:disabled):

.button {
  color: black;
/* We increase the specificity */
.button:disabled {
  color: white;
<Button disabled className="button">

Sometimes, you can't use a pseudo-class as the state doesn't exist in the platform. Let's take the menu item component and the selected state as an example. Aside from accessing nested elements, the classes property can be used to customize the internal states of Material-UI components:

.menu-item {
  color: black;
/* We increase the specificity */
.menu-item.selected {
  color: blue;
<MenuItem selected classes={{ root: 'menu-item', selected: 'selected' }}>
Why do I need to increase specificity to override one component state?

By design, the CSS specification makes the pseudo-classes increase the specificity. For consistency, Material-UI increases the specificity of its custom states. This has one important advantage, it's allowing you to cherry-pick the state you want to customize.

Use $ruleName to reference a local rule within the same style sheet

The jss-nested plugin (available by default) can make the process of increasing specificity easier.

const styles = {
  root: {
    '&$disabled': {
      color: 'white',
  disabled: {},

compiles to:

.root-x.disable-x {
  color: white;

⚠️ You need to apply the two generated class names (root & disabled) to the DOM to make it work.

    root: classes.root, // class name, e.g. `root-x`
    disabled: classes.disabled, // class name, e.g. `disabled-x`
  } }

Overriding with inline-style

The second way to override the style of a component is to use the inline-style approach. Every component provides a style property. These properties are always applied to the root element.

You don't have to worry about CSS specificity as the inline-style takes precedence over the regular CSS.

When should I use inline-style vs classes?

2. Dynamic variation for a one-time situation

You have learned how to override the style of the Material-UI components in the previous sections. Now, let's see how we can make these overrides dynamic. We demonstrate 5 alternatives, each has it's pros and cons.

Dynamic CSS

⚠️ This demo relies on the @material-ui/styles package. It doesn't work with the stable version.

Class name branch

CSS variables


Theme nesting

3. Specific variation of a component

You might need to create a variation of a component and use it in different contexts, for instance a colorful button on your product page, however you probably want to keep your code DRY.

The best approach is to follow option 1 and then take advantage of the composition power of React by exporting your customized component to use wherever you need it.

4. Material Design variations

The Material Design specification documents different variations of certain components, such as how buttons come in different shapes: text (formerly "flat"), contained (formerly "raised"), FAB and more.

Material-UI attempts to implement all of these variations. Please refer to the Supported Components documentation to find out the current status of all supported Material Design components.

5. Global theme variation

Theme variables

In order to promote consistency between components, and manage the user interface appearance as a whole, Material-UI provides a mechanism to apply global changes by adjusting the theme configuration variables.

Global theme override

Do you want to customize all the instances of a component type?

When the configuration variables aren't powerful enough, you can take advantage of the overrides key of the theme to potentially change every single style injected by Material-UI into the DOM. Learn more about it in the themes section of the documentation.

Global CSS override

You can also customize all instances of a component with CSS. We expose a dangerouslyUseGlobalCSS option to do so. Learn more about it in the CSS in JS section of the documentation. It's very similar to how you would customize Bootstrap.