Skip to main contentCarbon Design System


Icons are visual symbols used to represent ideas, objects, or actions. They communicate messages at a glance, afford interactivity, and draw attention to important information.


Designing with icons


Carbon components typically use icons on 16px artboards. Icons on 20px, 24px, and 32px artboards can also be used within the UI. Be sure icon size is consistent throughout your product.

icon sizingicon alignment

16px and 20px icons are optimized to feel balanced when paired with 14pt and 16pt IBM Plex. Use 24px and 32px when larger icons are needed.

proper sizing

Do use the correct icon size with IBM Plex.

improper sizing

Don’t alter the icon-text size ratio.

Touch targets

All touch targets for interactive icons need to be 44px or larger. Developers can add padding to a touch target with CSS to meet the 44px requirement.

touch target padding

The menu button that is also a touch target may have a 20px ✕ 20px icon centered in a 48px ✕ 48px button.


Icons are always a solid, monochromatic color and need to pass the same color contrast ratio as typography (4.5:1). The color of the icon should reflect the importance of the icon’s action which should always be to help guide a user. For more information on color, see the Color guidelines.

It’s also important to note that Carbon v10 icons themselves do not have interaction states, only their backgrounds do.

proper alignment

Do match your icon color with your text color when pairing them.

improper alignment

Don’t use different colors for text and icons.


When used next to text, icons should be center-aligned.

proper alignment

Do center-align icons when they’re next to text.

improper alignment

Don’t baseline-align icons to the text.

Developing with icons

SVG Icons


Install carbon-icons.

Full installation details can be found in the Carbon icons GitHub repo.

Main files

carbon-icons ships with two main SVG files:

FilenameDescriptionSupported versions
carbon-icons.svgContains current icons (consolidated subset of legacy icons used in IBM Bluemix)3.x & newer
carbon-icons.jsonJSON file created from carbon-icons.svg, used in Carbon3.x & newer
carbon-icons.jsJS module created from carbon-icons.svg, used in Icon React Component in carbon-components-react3.x & newer
icons.jsonlegacy JSON file created from sprite.svg1.x,2.x&3.x
legacy-icons.jsJS module created from sprite.svg3.x only


For screen reader accessibility, provide a context-rich title for the SVG using <title> element.

<title>Add a new service</title>
<use xlink:href="/carbon-icons/dist/icon--add--glyph"></use>

If support for older browsers is needed, use the aria-labelledby attribute to reference the <title> element using an id.

The <title> element will be read by the screen reader to the user, so it should describe its purpose.

Make sure that you do not duplicate this id.

<svg aria-labelledby="add">
<title id="add">Add a new service</title>
<use xlink:href="/carbon-icons/dist/icon--add"></use>
For more details on accessibility, see the following resources:
  • “Accessible SVGs” via CSS-Tricks
  • “5.4 The ‘desc’ and ‘title’ elements” via