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How to Setup Tailwind CSS in your Vanilla HTML Project



In this tutorial, I'm gonna explain how to setup Tailwind in the easiest way possible into your static HTML project.

Required tools

We are gonna need Node.js for this tutorial, if you don't have it, you can download it here.

You should get the "Recommended" version.


Create a folder for your project, open a terminal inside and do

npm init -y
npm install -D tailwindcss autoprefixer

With this, you initialize a new node project (the -y flag is to say yes to all prompts automatically) and install the required dependencies, in this case, Tailwind CSS and Autoprefixer, which is a dependency of Tailwind itself.

After that, we're gonna create a new folder called src and add a new file called tailwind.css inside of it.

Then, we'll add these three lines to the file.

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

Then, we need to add a couple of scripts to our package.json, dev and build.

"name": "tailwind-css-in-vanilla-html",
"version": "1.0.0",
"description": "",
"main": "index.js",
"scripts": {
"dev": "tailwindcss build -i ./src/tailwind.css -o ./public/tailwind.css",
"build": "NODE_ENV=production npm run dev",
"test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
"keywords": [],
"author": "",
"license": "ISC",
"devDependencies": {
"autoprefixer": "^10.3.1",
"tailwindcss": "^2.2.7"

Let's explain what's going on here, in the dev script, we're calling tailwindcss to build, and we're giving it an input file with -i, the .src/tailwind.css we just created in the previous step. Then, we're giving it an output file with -o, and that's gonna be .public/tailwind.css, which would be all Tailwind CSS classes after the build process.

In the build script, we're calling the dev but with NODE_ENV=production in front of it, we're gonna use this to create an optimized version of our Tailwind CSS file with only the classes we need for our project.

We can now run this command to generate the Tailwind CSS file in development mode, which will include all classes that Tailwind has available.

npm run dev

This also creates a public folder for us. Now let's create an index.html file inside that same folder.

Inside, add the following code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<meta charset="UTF-8" />
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge" />
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
<title>Tailwind CSS in Vanilla HTML!</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="tailwind.css" />
<div class="text-blue-600">hello!</div>

This is a basic HTML structure but take important notice on line 8, where we're linking our tailwind.css file, it's important to realize this file is the one inside public, and not the one inside src.

So we can customize Tailwind a little bit better, we need to create a tailwind.config.js, we can do it automatically with this command:

npx tailwindcss init

And then, to know exactly which files Tailwind need to look at to create an optimized version of the output in the build process, we need to tell it where to look. Go to tailwind.config.js and modify the purge line.

module.exports = {
purge: ['./public/**/*.html'],
darkMode: false, // or 'media' or 'class'
theme: {
extend: {},
variants: {
extend: {},
plugins: [],

And with this, you're set! You have successfully setup Tailwind CSS in your project and you're ready to create your amazing app.

If you have enjoyed this tutorial and you would like to learn more, I'm creating a Tailwind CSS course called Windcourse, in which I have a video of this exact process and I'll be also going deep into how to use Tailwind with React and Next.js.

If you are interested, you can pre-order it here.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter for daily tech-related content @nachoiacovino.