Creating a WordPress Child Theme

Wordpress child theme

If you are interested in editing a current Wordpress theme that is on your website it's useful to understand how to make a child theme. A child theme is a copy of another theme known as the parent. The child inherits everything from the parent. When you utilize child themes you don't have to worry about messing up your current theme and you can update the parent theme without worrying about any major problems.

Creating a child theme is a quick process that you will use over and over again after you understand how it works properly.

Picking the Parent

One of the most important steps in creating a child theme is deciding on the parent theme that you are going to base it off of. When deciding on a parent theme there are a couple things that you want to look out for. The most important thing is that the theme is coded well with no errors. You will have a hard time making a functional child theme if the parent theme wasn't coded well.

On top of being coded well you also want to make sure it has features that you want to include in any of your various child themes. If you have two different parent themes to choose from that are both coded well, it only makes sense to get the theme with the tools or format that you are going to want to use most of the time.

Installing with the One Click Child Theme Plugin

The quickest way to get a child theme up and running is to install the Wordpress One Click Child Theme plugin. To use this plugin you just have to activate the parent theme that you want your child to be based off of and then go into the "Child Theme" menu that is located under Appearance in the dashboard.

In the new menu you only have to enter three details to complete the new theme creation. First add the name of the new theme, second add in a description for the theme, and then add your name that will be attached to the theme. Now you have a fully functioning child theme.

Creating the Child Theme Manually

If you want the experience of making a child theme from scratch you can always do it the manual way. Although it is going to take you a little longer than it would with the plugin, it isn't that much more difficult.

In order to create the child theme you need to make a new directory for the theme inside the Theme folder. Name the directory whatever you want the theme to be named. After you do that, you will have to add in a styles.css file in order to be able to use the theme.

Making the styles.css File

The most important step of this process is to fill out the styles.css file. This file will tell Wordpress all the information about the child theme as well as which theme is the parent.


Theme Name: Name
Theme URI:
Description: A child theme for TwentyEleven
Author: John Smith
Author URI:
Template: TwentyEleven
Version: 0.1

Add the above comment into the top of your styles.css file changing out the various sections to represent your values. The URI can be any website that you want, I normally use my development site.

The description should talk about the child theme a little. The author should be filled in with your name. The template line is the most important of them all and it tells the child which theme is the parent.

Importing Parent Style Sheet

When you make a new child theme it won't have any styling at all. If you want to adopt the styling that is in the parent theme then you have to import it into your new style sheet. Many people prefer to do this because they have all the default styling done and they simply have to add new CSS commands to write over the parent's.

Use the command below to import the parent style sheet. Make sure that the url between the two parenthesis matches the url of the style.css file of the parent.

@import url(../twentyeleven/style.css);

After you import the parent's style.css file you are finished creating the new theme and you can activate it in Wordpress and begin using it.