Components

Tabs
Experimental

This component is currently experimental because more research is needed to validate it.

The tabs component lets users navigate between related sections of content, displaying one section at a time.

<div class="govuk-tabs" data-module="tabs">
  <h2 class="govuk-tabs__title">
    Contents
  </h2>

  <ul class="govuk-tabs__list">
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab govuk-tabs__tab--selected" href="#past-day">
        Past day
      </a>
    </li>
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab" href="#past-week">
        Past week
      </a>
    </li>
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab" href="#past-month">
        Past month
      </a>
    </li>
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab" href="#past-year">
        Past year
      </a>
    </li>
  </ul>

  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel" id="past-day">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past day</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">3</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">0</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">0</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">2</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">0</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel govuk-tabs__panel--hidden" id="past-week">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past week</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">24</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">18</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">16</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">20</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">24</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">27</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel govuk-tabs__panel--hidden" id="past-month">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past month</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">98</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">95</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">122</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">131</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">126</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">142</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel govuk-tabs__panel--hidden" id="past-year">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past year</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1380</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1472</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1129</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1083</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1539</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1265</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as "Required" in the option description.

If you're using Nunjucks macros in production with "html" options, or ones ending with "html", you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string This is used for the main component and to compose id attribute for each item.
idPrefix string String to prefix id for each tab item if no id is specified on each item
items array Required. Array of tab items. See items.
classes string Classes to add to the tabs component.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the tabs component.
Options for items
Name Type Description
id string Required. Specific id attribute for the tab item. If omitted, then idPrefix string will be applied.
label string Required. The text label of a tab item.
panel.text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within each tab panel. If html is provided, the text argument will be ignored.
panel.html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the each tab panel. If html is provided, the text argument will be ignored.
{% from "tabs/macro.njk" import govukTabs %}
{% from "table/macro.njk" import govukTable %}

{% set pastDayHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past day</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "3"
      },
      {
        text: "0"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "1"
      },
      {
        text: "0"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "2"
      },
      {
        text: "0"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{% set pastWeekHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past week</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "24"
      },
      {
        text: "18"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "16"
      },
      {
        text: "20"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "24"
      },
      {
        text: "27"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{% set pastMonthHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past month</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "98"
      },
      {
        text: "95"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "122"
      },
      {
        text: "131"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "126"
      },
      {
        text: "142"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{% set pastYearHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past year</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "1380"
      },
      {
        text: "1472"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "1129"
      },
      {
        text: "1083"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "1539"
      },
      {
        text: "1265"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{{ govukTabs({
  items: [
    {
      label: "Past day",
      id: "past-day",
      panel: {
        html: pastDayHtml
      }
    },
    {
      label: "Past week",
      id: "past-week",
      panel: {
        html: pastWeekHtml
      }
    },
    {
      label: "Past month",
      id: "past-month",
      panel: {
        html: pastMonthHtml
      }
    },
    {
      label: "Past year",
      id: "past-year",
      panel: {
        html: pastYearHtml
      }
    }
  ]
}) }}

When to use this component

Tabs can be a helpful way of letting users quickly switch between related information if:

  • your content can be usefully separated into clearly labelled sections
  • the first section is more relevant than the others for most users
  • users will not need to view all the sections at once

Tabs can work well for people who use a service regularly, for example, users of a caseworking system. Their need to perform tasks quickly may be greater than their need for simplicity of first-time use.

When not to use this component

Do not use the tabs component if the total amount of content the tabs contain will make the page slow to load. For this reason, do not use the tabs component as a form of page navigation.

Tabs hide content from users and not everyone will notice them or understand how they work.

Do not use tabs if your users might need to:

  • read through all of the content in order, for example, to understand a step-by-step process
  • compare information in different tabs - having to memorise the information and switch backwards and forwards can be frustrating and difficult

Test your content without tabs first. Consider if it’s better to:

  • simplify and reduce the amount of content
  • split the content across multiple pages
  • keep the content on a single page, separated by headings
  • use a table of contents to let users navigate quickly to specific sections of content

How it works

There are 2 ways to use the tabs component. You can use HTML or, if you’re using Nunjucks or the GOV.UK Prototype Kit, you can use the Nunjucks macro.

<div class="govuk-tabs" data-module="tabs">
  <h2 class="govuk-tabs__title">
    Contents
  </h2>

  <ul class="govuk-tabs__list">
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab govuk-tabs__tab--selected" href="#past-day">
        Past day
      </a>
    </li>
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab" href="#past-week">
        Past week
      </a>
    </li>
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab" href="#past-month">
        Past month
      </a>
    </li>
    <li class="govuk-tabs__list-item">
      <a class="govuk-tabs__tab" href="#past-year">
        Past year
      </a>
    </li>
  </ul>

  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel" id="past-day">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past day</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">3</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">0</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">0</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">2</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">0</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel govuk-tabs__panel--hidden" id="past-week">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past week</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">24</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">18</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">16</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">20</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">24</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">27</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel govuk-tabs__panel--hidden" id="past-month">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past month</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">98</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">95</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">122</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">131</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">126</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">142</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
  <section class="govuk-tabs__panel govuk-tabs__panel--hidden" id="past-year">
    <h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past year</h2>
    <table class="govuk-table">
      <thead class="govuk-table__head">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Case manager</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases opened</th>
          <th class="govuk-table__header" scope="col">Cases closed</th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody class="govuk-table__body">
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">David Francis</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1380</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1472</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Paul Farmer</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1129</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1083</td>
        </tr>
        <tr class="govuk-table__row">
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">Rita Patel</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1539</td>
          <td class="govuk-table__cell">1265</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
    </table>

  </section>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as "Required" in the option description.

If you're using Nunjucks macros in production with "html" options, or ones ending with "html", you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string This is used for the main component and to compose id attribute for each item.
idPrefix string String to prefix id for each tab item if no id is specified on each item
items array Required. Array of tab items. See items.
classes string Classes to add to the tabs component.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the tabs component.
Options for items
Name Type Description
id string Required. Specific id attribute for the tab item. If omitted, then idPrefix string will be applied.
label string Required. The text label of a tab item.
panel.text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within each tab panel. If html is provided, the text argument will be ignored.
panel.html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the each tab panel. If html is provided, the text argument will be ignored.
{% from "tabs/macro.njk" import govukTabs %}
{% from "table/macro.njk" import govukTable %}

{% set pastDayHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past day</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "3"
      },
      {
        text: "0"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "1"
      },
      {
        text: "0"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "2"
      },
      {
        text: "0"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{% set pastWeekHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past week</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "24"
      },
      {
        text: "18"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "16"
      },
      {
        text: "20"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "24"
      },
      {
        text: "27"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{% set pastMonthHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past month</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "98"
      },
      {
        text: "95"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "122"
      },
      {
        text: "131"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "126"
      },
      {
        text: "142"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{% set pastYearHtml %}
<h2 class="govuk-heading-l">Past year</h2>
{{ govukTable({
  head: [
    {
      text: "Case manager"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases opened"
    },
    {
      text: "Cases closed"
    }
  ],
  rows: [
    [
      {
        text: "David Francis"
      },
      {
        text: "1380"
      },
      {
        text: "1472"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Paul Farmer"
      },
      {
        text: "1129"
      },
      {
        text: "1083"
      }
    ],
    [
      {
        text: "Rita Patel"
      },
      {
        text: "1539"
      },
      {
        text: "1265"
      }
    ]
  ]
}) }}
{% endset -%}

{{ govukTabs({
  items: [
    {
      label: "Past day",
      id: "past-day",
      panel: {
        html: pastDayHtml
      }
    },
    {
      label: "Past week",
      id: "past-week",
      panel: {
        html: pastWeekHtml
      }
    },
    {
      label: "Past month",
      id: "past-month",
      panel: {
        html: pastMonthHtml
      }
    },
    {
      label: "Past year",
      id: "past-year",
      panel: {
        html: pastYearHtml
      }
    }
  ]
}) }}

The tabs component uses JavaScript. When JavaScript is not available, users will see the tabbed content on a single page, in order from first to last, with a table of contents that links to each of the sections.

This is also how the component currently behaves on small screens, though more research is needed on this.

Use clear labels

Tabs hide content, so the tab labels need to make it very clear what they link to, otherwise users will not know if they need to click on them.

If you struggle to come up with clear labels, it might be because the way you’ve separated the content is not clear.

Order the tabs according to user needs

The first tab should be the most commonly-needed section. Arrange the other tabs in the order that makes most sense for your users.

Do not disable tabs

Disabling elements is normally confusing for users. If there is no content for a tab, either remove the tab or, if that would be confusing for your users, explain why there is no content when the tab is selected.

Avoid tabs that wrap over more than one line

If you use too many tabs or they have long labels then they may wrap over more than one line. This makes it harder for users to see the connection between the selected tab and its content.

Research and testing

This component is experimental because it has not yet been tried in research with users.

The design, code and guidance here are based on recommendations from Inclusive Components and the Nielsen Norman Group as well as user research findings and examples of tabs in the following services:

  • Manage bereavement support payment (DWP)
  • Support for check your state pension (DWP)
  • Access to work integrated system (DWP)
  • Bank holidays (GDS)
  • Universal Credit (DWP)
  • Criminal Justice Services (CPP)
  • Judiciary UI internal systems (HMCTS)
  • Rural Payments (Defra)

Next steps

User research is needed to confirm:

  • which types of services tabs work best in
  • that this approach to tabs is the best option for screen reader users and sighted keyboard users
  • how this component should behave on small screen sizes

Get in touch

If you’ve got a question, idea or suggestion share it in #govuk-design-system on cross-government Slack (open in app) or email the Design System team on govuk-design-system-support@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk

Discuss ‘Tabs’ on GitHub