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An Intro to the Anatomy of a WordPress Theme

Some time in the past, we launched to you the idea of making a WordPress theme from HTML. We cut up the tutorial into two components and at the moment we’re all about fleshing out the 2 tutorials, so be happy to treat this put up because the third serving within the put up collection. My goal is to take aside the WordPress theme to offer you a transparent image of the way it (the theme) works.

This put up assumes you have got a working data of HTML and CSS. I’ll go forward and declare that having HTML and CSS abilities is a prerequisite in designing WordPress themes. Yet one more factor, this put up will keep clear of huge phrases and tough ideas – will probably be simple to grasp, so be able to have enjoyable and be taught.

A Little HTML Priming

Each HTML internet web page is cut up into totally different components utilizing the <div> tag. As an illustration, you’ll be able to break the physique (<physique>) of your web site into a number of sections reminiscent of navigation, header, major content material, sidebar and footer amongst others.

After getting your internet web page in sections, you’ll be able to order (or prepare) the sections as you want utilizing CSS. This course of is called styling, and it includes including different type parts reminiscent of colour, dimension, borders, particular results and many others. Such is the facility of CSS, which – by the best way – is brief for Cascading Model Sheets. If you put your HTMl and CSS recordsdata collectively and throw in a few photos, you find yourself with an entire web site.

Issues are usually not very totally different with WordPress themes. As we noticed partly 1 of How To Create A WordPress Theme from HTML, WordPress themes are cut up into totally different recordsdata. For those who can not spot some similarity at this level, permit me to elucidate.

Static HTML internet pages are cut up into divisions (what we known as sections earlier on) utilizing <div> tags (or tables if you happen to’re actually old-fashioned). Alternatively, WordPress themes are cut up into totally different php recordsdata, that are then put again collectively utilizing template tags.

Subsequently, as an alternative of getting all physique parts (header, major content material, sidebar, footer and many others) residing in a single file (as is the case with static HTML), every of the physique parts (in WordPress themes) lives in a separate recordsdata.

So, the header will stay in header.php, the sidebar will discover house in sidebar.php, the primary content material will stay in index.php, or single.php (if it’s a put up) or web page.php (if it’s a web page). The footer part will stay in footer.php and so forth.

Are you following? Try the illustration under:


From our illustration above, <?php get_header(); ?>, <?php get_sidebar(); ?> and <?php get_header(); ?> are known as template tags. Their work is to fetch header.php, sidebar.php and footer.php in that order out of your theme listing, and show the content material in your index.php, thus finishing the online web page.

Don’t let the .php extension scare you, the content material inside php recordsdata is simply HTML code that you just’re accustomed to. As an illustration, your header.php can include typical HTML listing navigation. Equally, you’ll be able to put typical HTML code within the footer.php, sidebar.php and index.php.

You may as well place the loop.php operate in your index.php (or anyplace you fancy) to show your weblog posts, however I ought to decelerate and get again to the anatomy of WordPress themes. I’ve talked about a factor or two concerning the loop partly 2 of how one can create a WordPress theme from HTML. and we are going to speak about it (the loop) and different features sooner or later.

Transferring on…

A primary WordPress theme is comprised of no less than 4 template recordsdata particularly:

  1. index.php
  2. header.php
  3. sidebar.php
  4. footer.php

Let’s see what goes into every of those magical recordsdata:

Index.php Template File

That is the primary file with out which you don’t have a working WordPress theme. It’s the first (or default) file that masses while you go to a WordPress web site. Take into account it the equal of index.html.

A typical index.php in WordPress themes will seem like this:

<?php get_header(); ?>

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>

<?php get_footer(); ?>

You may add the loop between <?php get_header(); /> and <?php get_sidebar(); ?> to show weblog posts on the homepage (index.php) as proven under:

<?php get_header(); ?>
<div class="content material">
<?php if ( have_posts() ) : ?>
<?php whereas ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>
	<div id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>
	<div class="post-header">
	<div class="date"><?php the_time( 'M j y' ); ?></div>
	<h2><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>" rel="bookmark" title="Everlasting Hyperlink to <?php the_title_attribute(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>
	<div class="creator"><?php the_author(); ?></div>
	</div><!--end put up header-->
	<div class="entry clear">
	<?php if ( function_exists( 'add_theme_support' ) ) the_post_thumbnail(); ?>
	<?php the_content(); ?>
	<?php edit_post_link(); ?>
	<?php wp_link_pages(); ?>
	</div><!--end entry-->
	<div class="post-footer">
	<div class="feedback"><?php comments_popup_link( 'Go away a Remark', '1 Remark', '% Feedback' ); ?></div>
	</div><!--end put up footer-->
	</div><!--end post-->
<?php endwhile; /* rewind or proceed if all posts have been fetched */ ?>
	<div class="navigation index">
	<div class="alignleft"><?php next_posts_link( 'Older Entries' ); ?></div>
	<div class="alignright"><?php previous_posts_link( 'Newer Entries' ); ?></div>
	</div><!--end navigation-->
<?php else : ?>
<?php endif; ?>
<?php get_sidebar(); ?>
<?php get_footer(); ?>

Header.php Template File

This template recordsdata accommodates your header code, navigation and HTML head code. Principally, header.php shops all the pieces you need to present on the high of your web site. You already know, issues just like the title of your web site and stuff like that.

You additionally hyperlink to your CSS stylesheet within the header.php. Here’s a primary instance of header.php:

	<meta charset="<?php bloginfo( 'charset' ); ?>">
	<meta title="viewport" content material="width=device-width">
	<title><?php wp_title( '|', true, 'proper' ); ?></title>
	<hyperlink rel="profile" href="">
	<hyperlink rel="pingback" href="<?php bloginfo( 'pingback_url' ); ?>">
	<hyperlink rel="stylesheet" href="<?php bloginfo('stylesheet_url'); ?>" kind="textual content/css" />
	<!--[if lt IE 9]>
	<script src="<?php echo get_template_directory_uri(); ?>/js/html5.js"></script>
	<?php wp_head(); ?>
<div class="header">
<p>That is header part. Put your brand and different particulars right here.</p>

Sidebar.php Template File

Sidebar.php accommodates all the pieces you must seem in your sidebar(s). The sidebar accommodates extra menus, widgets, classes, social media icons, customized content material, HTML code reminiscent of adverts and many others.

Sidebar.php can include pure HTML markup or php operate calls relying in your wants. As such, a primary sidebar.php may seem like:

<div class="sidebar">

Put your customized content material or HTML code right here.


Footer.php Template File

What do you assume goes into footer.php? You may put your copyright information right here, extra menus, hyperlinks, social media icons – something you need! Would you prefer to see how a primary footer.php seems like? Right here:

<footer class="footer">

Put your footer content material right here together with php operate calls (to fetch totally different template recordsdata e.g. search.php) if want be.




Discover the </physique> and </html> closing tags within the footer.php? Are you able to guess why they should be included within the footer.php? Equally, are you able to guess why the <html> and <physique> opening tags are included within the header.php? Tell us your guesses within the remark part on the finish of this put up ?

The 4 template recordsdata we simply coated above make up a really primary WordPress theme. There are various different template recordsdata; there’s a template file for each factor you see on a WordPress theme be it feedback, search outcomes and 404 error pages simply to say just a few.

To totally perceive the anatomy of a WordPress theme, you must familiarize your self with totally different template recordsdata. You may browse all usable template tiles at WordPress.

Then we’ve got template tags, which WordPress makes use of to fetch template recordsdata from the theme listing. You may be taught extra about template tags, and the position they play at WordPress.


A WordPress theme consists of the next anatomical parts:

  • Template recordsdata reminiscent of index.php, header.php, search.php, class.php and many others
  • Template tags reminiscent of <?php get_header(); ?>, <?php get_sidebar(); ?> and many others
  • CSS
  • Photographs and different media recordsdata
  • JavaScript recordsdata

And right here is an illustration that summarizes the anatomy of a WordPress theme:

Seeking to proceed studying? Checkout the detailed theme anatomy information within the WordPress Codex.


Each WordPress theme you see on the net makes use of the identical anatomical construction (even our common Whole WordPress Theme), which you’ll be able to customise to fulfill your wants. When you wrap your head across the fundamentals of WordPress theme growth, there is no such thing as a restrict to what you are able to do with/to WordPress themes.

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