Collapsible Headings

Allows notebook to have collapsible sections, separated by headings.

Any markdown heading cell (that is, one which begins with 1-6 # characters), becomes collapsible once rendered.

The collapsed/expanded status of the headings is stored in the cell metadata, and reloaded on notebook load.



The extension offers a few options for how to display and toggle the collapsed status of headings, each of which can be enabled, disabled or configured from the nbextensions config page:

  • Command-mode keyboard shortcuts, (enabled by default, and set to left and right arrow keys to collapse/expand sections, or go to the previous/next heading, plus shift-right to select a heading cell’s section). Bindings are also configurable from the config page
  • A toggle control in the input prompt area of each heading cell (as seen in the screenshot below, enabled by default)
    • Configurable icons and icon color for the toggle control (by default, grey right/down carets are used)
    • The option to make the toggle control into a button (by default it’s just a clickable icon)
  • Mathematica-style grouping brackets around each collapsible section on the right of the notebook. Single-clicking a bracket will select all cells in the section (hold shift to extend existing selection), while double-clicking the bracket toggles the section’s collpased/expanded status (disabled by default)
    • Bracket width is configurable, defaults to 10 (px)
  • A gray bracketed ellipsis added to the end of each collapsed heading, indicating hidden content (disabled by default)
  • A toolbar button to collapse the nearest heading to the curently selected cell (disabled by default)


The extension add the css class collapsible_headings_collapsed to each collapsed heading cell, which you could use for custom css rules, such as adding a bottom border to collapsed headings, to visually distinguish them a bit more.

The toggle controls’ icons currently spin by 360 degrees when the heading gets collapsed or uncollapsed, via a css transition property (not in IE). If this annoys you, you could turn it off using the following rule in your custom.css:

.cell .collapsible_headings_toggle .fa {
    transition: transform 0s;


Heading cells which are collapsed have a value set in the cell metadata, so that

cell.metadata.heading_collapsed = true

The extension patches some Jupyter methods:

  • TextCell.prototype.execute is patched to add/remove the toggle buttons, as well as update the visibility of any cells below the new one.
  • is patched to make sure any collapsed headings which would be hiding the new selection get uncollapsed (expanded).
  • Notebook.prototype.undelete and Notebook.prototype.delete_cells are patched to trigger an update of which cells should be visible or hidden.
  • Tooltip._show is patched to toggle the div.cell { position:relative; } css rule of while the tooltip displays, as otherwise it interferes with the tooltip’s position-determining logic. Since this method is not part of the public API (leading underscore), this may break in future, but it should degrade in a non-catastrophic manner, with the result that the tooltip will appear at the top of the notebook document, rather than where the cursor is currently.

The extension also patches two existing Jupyter actions: those triggered in command mode by the up/down arrow keys. Ordinarily, these select the cell above/below the current selection. Once patched by collapsible_headings, they have the same behaviour, but skip over any cells which have been hidden (by a collapsed heading, or, in fact, by any other mechanism).

Finally, collapsible_headings registers two new actions, namely collapsible_headings:collapse_heading and collapsible_headings:uncollapse_heading, which are used by the keyboard shortcuts (if used), and can be called as with any other action.

The previously-provided preprocessor has been retired in favour of an exporter which embeds functionality correctly. See the [exporting section] for details. If you have questions, comments, or would like alterations (particularly for nbconvert support, of which I don’t have much experience), get in touch (@jcb91) and I’ll see what I can do :)


It is possible to export most of the features of collapsible_headings to html. The process is to embed the relevant css & js files into the html output, with suitable functionality for a non-live notebook.

This is accomplished through use of the ExporterInliner class and its associated inliner.tpl template, provided as part of the jupyter_contrib_nbextensions.nbconvert_support module. To convert to html embedding collapsible headings functionality, use html_ch exporter, with a command like

jupyter nbconvert --to html_ch FILE.ipynb