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An official website of the United States government

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An official website of the United States government

Here's how you know



Buttons allow users to take actions from a current state to a future state.


Are you upgrading to v4 (healthcare v8, medicare v6)?

Take a look at our v4 buttons migration guide to get started.


The following tables give an overview of the different available button styles in the selected design system. Each button has three controllable traits that can be used in various combinations. They are:

  1. Variation: which affects the border and background styles
  2. Color: defined as either main or alternate
  3. Context: specified as either on-light or on-dark

See the examples in the following sections to learn how they can be applied.

Button variations on light background
VariationMain (Default)Alternate
Outline (Default)
Button variations on dark background
VariationMain (Default)Alternate
Outline (Default)

Main buttons

Solid button


Outline button


Ghost button


Alternate buttons

Each button variation (outline, solid, ghost) has an alternate option. Alternate buttons can be styled differently than the main buttons.

Alternate solid button


Alternate outline button


Alternate ghost button


On dark background


Button sizes

Buttons can exist in two sizes other than default: "big" or "small".

Big button

Small button

Adding icons

  • Add an inline SVG icon and it will become the same color as the button text. For the crispest icon rendering, ensure the icon has a square viewBox with values that are multiples of 8 (ie. 24x24).
  • Use the margin utility class to add spacing between the icon and button text.



The Button component accepts its text as children (AKA inner HTML), which means you can also pass in HTML or custom components. This gives you a lot of flexibility and supports a variety of advanced use cases. The most common use case would be passing in an SVG icon along with the text.

In addition to the supported props listed, you can also pass in additional props, which will be passed to the rendered root component. For example, you could pass in a target prop to pass to the rendered anchor element.

See Storybook for React guidance of this component.


The following CSS variables can be overridden to customize Button components:

CSS variables for button
VariableDefault Core Theme Value
--button__background-color--activehex value: #d9d9d9--color-border
--button__background-color--hoverhex value: #f2f2f2--color-gray-lightest
--button__color--activehex value: #00395e--color-background-inverse
--button__color--disabledhex value: #d9d9d9--color-border
--button__color--hoverhex value: #004f84--color-primary-darker
--button__colorhex value: #0071bc--color-primary


This component has analytics tracking available. Please see our developer documentation about using analytics in the design system.


Buttons are promises to the user; they must deliver the promise they offer by doing what the button says it will do.

When to use

  • Use buttons for the most important actions you want users to take on your site, such as "Download," "Sign up," or "Apply."

When to consider alternatives

  • Less popular or less important actions may be visually styled as links.
  • Buttons are for performing actions, not making choices. If you need your users to make a choice, use something else like radio buttons. Alternatively, if one choice is much less important then try styling it as a link instead.


  • Avoid using too many buttons on a page. Aim to use only one button per page.
  • Avoid similar styles elsewhere on the page that could be confused for buttons.
  • Use buttons for the primary action and links for secondary actions.

Label text

  • Use sentence case for button labels.
  • Button labels should be as short as possible with “trigger words” that your users will recognize to clearly explain what will happen when the button is clicked (for example, “Save and continue,” “Download” or “Sign up”).
  • Make the first word of the button’s label a verb. For example, instead of “Complaint Filing”, label the button “File a complaint.”
  • If a button has an icon, it should still have accompanying text describing the action.

Destructive buttons

  • Confirm the user meant to trigger a destructive action before following through with the action.
  • Provide a method for a user to undo a destructive action.

Avoid using disabled buttons

Disabling a "button" to act as a guide to the level of form completion is a common anti-pattern (e.g., you aren't able to proceed in the next step until the form contains enough data). Why it's a problem:

  • Buttons tend to have call-to-action text that matches what users want to do, so people try to interact with them.
  • They have terrible color contrast.
  • They don’t provide feedback and tell the user why they're disabled. They communicate that something is off, but very often that is not enough information. As a result, users are left wondering what’s actually missing, and consequently are locked out entirely.
  • Assistive technologies like screen readers and switches are usually not even able to navigate to disabled buttons.

For these reasons, disabled buttons can be frustrating for all users but especially those with cognitive disabilities and those who use assistive technologies.


  • Buttons should display a visible focus state when users tab to them.
  • Create a button with a <button> or <a> element to retain the native click functionality. Avoid using <div> or <img> tags to create buttons. Screen readers don't automatically know either is a usable button.
  • When styling links to look like buttons, remember that screen readers handle links slightly differently than they do buttons. Pressing the Space key triggers a button, but pressing the Enter key triggers a link.
  • Dimmed or unavailable buttons using the <a> tag must have the aria-disabled attribute set to true and its href attribute removed.
    • Unlike the <button>, disabled is not a valid attribute for <a>. To describe the disabled state to screen reader users, use the aria-disabled attribute instead.
    • The href attribute is not required on <a>, and when it's absent it doesn't create a hyperlink.
  • Dimmed or unavailable buttons using the <button> tag should have the disabled attribute applied. This removes native click and keypress events from the button. It also prevents automated scanners from logging a low contrast error. Finally, it announces the button as "dimmed" or "disabled" to screen readers, offering users additional context.


  • Describe what will happen, not the current state.
  • Buttons always start with an action word describing the main thing users will do once selected.
    • Pair it with a noun to help it be clearer. Example: Get tips.
    • If in a form, it can be just the action word if it's navigating between steps. Example: Cancel, Back, Next.
  • Use the least amount of words possible (no more than 6 with 2-4 being ideal).
Moving through a process or sequential steps after starting

For forward movement to the next page or step.

Learn more

Button alignment


Component maturity

For more information about how we tested and validated our work for each checklist item, read our component maturity documentation.


  • Color

    Meets AA color contrast standards for accessibility and color blindness.
  • Forced Colors Mode (FCM)

    While using FCM the components text is legible and improves readability.
  • WCAG 2.1 Level AA Conformance

    All Axe checks for WCAG AA compliance have passed.
  • Screen readers

    VoiceOver, NVDA, and JAWS screen readers provide concise communication and interaction.
  • Keyboard navigation

    Component is fully navigable with a keyboard.


  • Storybook

    Component has stories to cover all defined props.
  • Responsive

    Component designed to work in all responsive breakpoints.
  • Spanish translations

    Includes Spanish translations for default text content.
    Not applicable


  • Code

    Tokens implemented in code.
  • Design

    Tokens implemented in the Sketch.