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The breadcrumb is a secondary navigation pattern that helps a user understand the hierarchy among levels and navigate back through them.


Breadcrumbs show users their current location relative to the information architecture and enable them to quickly move up to a parent level or previous step.

When to use

Breadcrumbs are effective in products and experiences that have a large amount of content organized in a hierarchy of more than two levels. They take up little space but still provide context for the user’s place in the navigation hierarchy.

When not to use

Breadcrumbs are always treated as secondary and should never entirely replace the primary navigation. They shouldn’t be used for products that have single level navigation because they create unnecessary clutter.

If you are taking users through a multistep process use a progress indicator instead.


Carbon supports two types of breadcrumbs. Both types are styled the same, but the methods for populating the breadcrumb trail are different. The breadcrumb type used should be consistent across a product.

Breadcrumb typePurpose
Location-basedThese illustrate the site’s hierarchy and show the user where they are within that hierarchy.
Path-basedThese show the actual steps the user took to get to the current page, rather than reflecting the site’s information architecture. Path-based breadcrumbs are always dynamically generated.

Live demo

<BreadcrumbItem href="/">Breadcrumb 1</BreadcrumbItem>
<BreadcrumbItem href="/">Breadcrumb 2</BreadcrumbItem>
<BreadcrumbItem href="/">Breadcrumb 3</BreadcrumbItem>



Breadcrumb anatomy example
  1. Page link: Directs users to the parent-level page.
  2. Separator: Clearly distinguishes between each page.


Breadcrumbs are placed in the top left portion of the page. They sit underneath the header and navigation, but above the page title.

Breadcrumb placement in a UI


Main elements

Page link

  • Each page link should be short and clearly reflect the location or entity it links to.
  • Start with the highest level parent page and move deeper into the information architecture as the breadcrumb trail progresses.
  • By default, the current page is not listed in the breadcrumb trail.

Overflow content

When space becomes limited, use an overflow menu to truncate the breadcrumbs. The first and last two page links should be shown, but the remaining breadcrumbs in between are condensed into an overflow menu. Breadcrumbs should never wrap onto a second line.

Truncated breadcrumbs

Further guidance

For further content guidance, see Carbon’s content guidelines.



All the pages in the breadcrumb component should be interactive (except the current page) and link to their respective pages.