How to Import a Sass File into Every Vue Component in an App

Avatar of Sarah Drasner
Sarah Drasner on (Updated on )

If you’re working on a large-scale Vue application, chances are at some point you’re going to want to organize the structure of your application so that you have some globally defined variables for CSS that you can make use of in any part of your application.

This can be accomplished by writing this piece of code into every component in your application:

<style lang="scss">
  @import "./styles/_variables.scss";

But who has time for that?! We’re programmers, let’s do this programmatically.


You might be wondering why we would want to do something like this, especially if you’re just starting out in web development. Globals are bad, right? Why would we need this? What even are Sass variables? If you already know all of this, then you can skip down to the next section for the implementation.

Companies big and small tend to have redesigns at least every one-to-two years. If your code base is large, managed by many people, and you need to change the line-height everywhere from 1.1rem to 1.2rem, do you really want to have to go back into every module and change that value? A global variable becomes extraordinarily useful here. You decide what can be at the top-level and what needs to be inherited by other, smaller, pieces. This avoids spaghetti code in CSS and keeps your code DRY.

I once worked for a company that had a gigantic, sprawling codebase. A day before a major release, orders came down from above that we were changing our primary brand color. Because the codebase was set up well with these types of variables defined correctly, I had to change the color in one location, and it propagated through 4,000 files. That’s pretty powerful. I also didn’t have to pull an all-nighter to get the change through in time.

Styles are about design. Good design is, by nature, successful when it’s cohesive. A codebase that reuses common pieces of structure can look more united, and also tends to look more professional. If you have to redefine some base pieces of your application in every component, it will begin to break down, just like a phrase does in a classic game of telephone.

Global definitions can be self-checking for designers as well: “Wait, we have another tertiary button? Why?” Leaks in cohesive UI/UX announce themselves well in this model.


The first thing we need is to have vue-cli 3 installed. Then we create our project:

npm install -g @vue/cli
# OR
yarn global add @vue/cli

# then run this to scaffold the project
vue create scss-loader-example

When we run this command, we’re going to make sure we use the template that has the Sass option:

? Please pick a preset: Manually select features
? Check the features needed for your project:
  ◉ Babel
  ◯ TypeScript
  ◯ Progressive Web App (PWA) Support
  ◯ Router
  ◉ Vuex
❯ ◉ CSS Pre-processors
  ◉ Linter / Formatter
  ◯ Unit Testing
  ◯ E2E Testing

The other options are up to you, but you need the CSS Pre-processors option checked. If you have an existing vue cli 3 project, have no fear! You can also run:

npm i node-sass sass-loader
# OR
yarn add node-sass sass-loader

First, let’s make a new folder within the src directory. I called mine styles. Inside of that, I created a _variables.scss file, like you would see in popular projects like bootstrap. For now, I just put a single variable inside of it to test:

$primary: purple;

Now, let’s create a file called vue.config.js at the root of the project at the same level as your package.json. In it, we’re going to define some configuration settings. You can read more about this file here.

Inside of it, we’ll add in that import statement that we saw earlier:

module.exports = {
  css: {
    loaderOptions: {
      sass: {
        data: `@import "@/styles/_variables.scss";`

Reader Dan Danciu notes that as of sass-loader 8, data needs to be prependData above.

Reader Esteban Jelicich notes that as of sass-loader 9, data needs to be additionalData above.

OK, a couple of key things to note here:

  • You will need to shut down and restart your local development server to make any of these changes take hold.
  • That @/ in the directory structure before styles will tell this configuration file to look within the src directory.
  • You don’t need the underscore in the name of the file to get this to work. This is a Sass naming convention.
  • The components you import into will need the lang="scss" (or sass, or less, or whatever preprocessor you’re using) attribute on the style tag in the .vue single file component. (See example below.)

Now, we can go into our default App.vue component and start using our global variable!

<style lang="scss">
#app {
  font-family: "Avenir", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
  -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased;
  -moz-osx-font-smoothing: grayscale;
  text-align: center;
  //this is where we use the variable
  color: $primary;
  margin-top: 60px;

Here’s a working example! You can see the text in our app turn purple:

Shout out to Ives, who created CodeSandbox, for setting up a special configuration for us so we could see these changes in action in the browser. If you’d like to make changes to this sandbox, there’s a special Server Control Panel option in the left sidebar, where you can restart the server. Thanks, Ives!

And there you have it! You no longer have to do the repetitive task of @import-ing the same variables file throughout your entire Vue application. Now, if you need to refactor the design of your application, you can do it all in one place and it will propagate throughout your app. This is especially important for applications at scale.