Breadcrumb (navigation)

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"Breadcrumb trail" redirects here. For the album by The Frames, see Breadcrumb Trail.
GNOME Files, demonstrating its implementation of location-based breadcrumb navigation.
Breadcrumb in Dolphin file manager.

Breadcrumbs or breadcrumb trails are a graphical control element used as a navigational aid in user interfaces. It allows users to keep track of their locations within programs, documents or websites. The term comes from the trail of bread crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel in the fairy tale of the same name.[1]


A breadcrumb trail tracks and displays each page viewed by a visitor of a website in the order the pages were viewed. Breadcrumbs are typically placed, in horizontal form, under the masthead or navigation of a website. The (original, un-edited) definition below (under the title Websites) is the consistent misinterpretation held by most industry professionals of what a breadcrumb trail is. The three examples illustrated are incorrectly identified as breadcrumbs. Those examples are content or category or hierarchical paths identifying where the page you are viewing is located with the website's structure.

A breadcrumb trail or path is typically rendered as follows :

Page viewed > Page viewed > Page viewed > Page viewed > Page currently being viewed

-- or --

In this scenario, a website visitor views seven pages (note how the pages are tracked in order the user viewed them) :

Home page > Services > About Us > Home page > Latest Newsletter > Home page > Page currently being viewed


Breadcrumbs typically appear horizontally across the top of a Web page, often below title bars or headers. They provide links back to each previous page the user navigated through to get to the current page or—in hierarchical site structures—the parent pages of the current one. Breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting or entry point.[1] A greater-than sign (>) often serves as hierarchy separator, although designers may use other glyphs (such as » or ›), as well as various graphical treatments.

Typical breadcrumbs look like this:

Home page > Section page > Subsection page


Home page : Section page : Subsection page


home page : section page 1 : section page 2


Current file managers including Windows Explorer (from Windows Vista onwards), Mac OS's Finder, GNOME's Nautilus, KDE's Dolphin, Xfce's Thunar, MATE's Caja, and SnowBird allow breadcrumb navigation, often replacing or extending an address bar.


There are two types of Web breadcrumbs:

  • Location: location breadcrumbs are static and show where the page is located in the website hierarchy.
  • Attribute: attribute breadcrumbs give information that categorizes the current page.


Location breadcrumbs are not necessarily appropriate for sites whose content is so rich that single categories do not fully describe a particular piece of content. For this reason, a tag may be more appropriate, though breadcrumbs can still be used to allow the user to retrace their steps and see how they arrived at the current page.

Other names[edit]

Some commentators and programmers alternatively use the term "cookie crumb" as a synonym to describe the navigation design.
This should not be confused with the term cookie, which refers to HTTP cookies (text files websites write on a visitor's machine that record data such as login information).

Michigan Community College's Virtual Learning Collaborative uses the term "Navigation Path",[2] as do some Drupal users.[3]

French and Spanish speakers sometimes use instead the term Ariadne's thread (in French fil d'Ariane) in relation to the thread left by Ariadne to Theseus so he can find the exit of the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur, on a LIFO (stack) instead of FIFO (queue) way.


  1. ^ a b Mark Levene (18 October 2010). An Introduction to Search Engines and Web Navigation (2nd ed.). Wiley. p. 221. ISBN 978-0470526842. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  2. ^ MCCVLC Black Board Help
  3. ^ Setting the Navigation Path by Context in Drupal

External links[edit]