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Step 43: How to use Thesis 2 Templates

Thesis 2 Home Template

Let’s talk about Thesis 2 Templates.    By now you have probably noticed that the rest of your site pages don’t match your home page.  Below is a picture of a single post page from this site.  Notice the differences between it and the home page pictured above.  The nav menu is at the top of the page after we moved it, the Hello Bar is missing, and the post byline still includes date and edit link.

Thesis 2 Single Template

This is because all of our changes have been limited to the HTML “Home” Template (see picture below).  Without realizing it, you have been working with Thesis 2 templates.  All of our styles and tweaks to the HTML have been limited to the “Home” template.

Thesis 2 HTML Home Template

I have purposely avoided this topic until this step, as it is faster and easier to get one template the way you want it, then copy it to the other templates as desired.  Thesis 2 gives you many templates out-of-the-box.

You might have noticed that when you move your cursor over the word “Home”, it changes color.

Thesis 2 Template Selector

This is a button you can click to change templates.  Below you can see the available default templates.

Thesis 2 Templates

Thesis 2 Templates:

Core Templates:

  • Home: this template controls the home page of your site.  This is the only page where this template is used.  This template is used when your home page displays your posts.
  • Single: this template controls the single post page of your site.  When a visitor clicks on one of your post titles they are take to a page where they can read the entire post.  This is called the “single” page.
    • Attachment: this template is used when you select the Attachment template for a page.  This is a sub-category of Single.
  • Page: this template is used when you add a WordPress Page to your site.  An example is your “About” page.
    • Front Page: this template is used when you select to use a static page as your home page.
    • 404: this is a special template that is used when a site visitor receives a  404 error indicating that the page is not found.
  • Archive: this is a special template used by the different WordPress taxonomy pages.
    • Category: this template is used when a visitor is viewing a page of posts built from a WordPress Category.  We added categories and select one for each post to be used in our nav menu.
    • Tag: this template is used when a visitor is viewing a page of posts build from a WordPress Tag.   Remember, tags work much the same as categories.
    • Taxonomy: we will not be using this template.
    • Author: this template is used when a visitor clicks on the author name in the post byline to view posts by a specific author.
    • Day/Month/Year: if you display archives based on date, these templates will be used.  I am not using date archives as I have chosen to build my URLs using the post name only.
    • Search Results: this template is used whenever a visitor performs a search using the native WordPress Search function.  We will not be using this as I plan to plug in Google Custom Search soon.

Custom Templates:

  • Landing Page: this template is used when you create Posts or Pages using the Thesis Skin Custom Template, “Landing Page“.  The Thesis Skin Custom Template drop-down for any custom templates you have created.

Copy from Template:

  • This is an awesome function the creators of Thesis 2 have provided us to easily copy one template design to another.  This is why we have concentrated on the Home template.  Once the Home page is to our liking we can easily copy the layout to our other templates.

Switching Templates in Thesis 2:

  • To switch templates, click on the current template name, such as Home, and a box will appear listing all of the available templates (see image above).  Just click the template you want to work on next and it will be displayed.

I would like most of my pages to look the same so I am going to copy my Home template to the Single, Page, Category, Tag, 404, and Author templates.  To do this, select the template you want to work on to make it active.  In the picture below you will see that I have chosen to work on my Single template.

Thesis 2 Copy Template

Click on the “Copy from Template” drop-down and select “Home”.  Then click the green “Copy Template” button.  Click the “OK” button when the confirmation pop-up appears.

Thesis 2 Confirm Template Copy

Don’t forget to click the green “Save Template” button at the top right of the page.

Thesis 2 Save Template Button

Navigate to one of your single post pages and you’ll see that the page looks just like your home page now.  Pretty awesome, right?

Go ahead and copy your Home template to your other templates as desired.

Another great feature of Thesis 2 is when you are signed into WordPress while viewing your site, Thesis will tell you what template is being used by the page being viewed.  This is shown at the bottom left of the page.  See the example below.

Thesis 2 Home Template Footer

About the author: I’m a techie, a gadget geek, a former programmer, and all-around technology nut. Currently I’m a business analyst for a technology company. I love what technology can do for us. I love smartphones and apps for everything. Building sites with Thesis 2.0 and WordPress help me to reconnect with the feeling of building something tangible.

I’m on: Google+ and Twitter

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Wendy June 2, 2013, 10:25 AM

    I tried to follow this lesson, but I need more depth. I have my front page, but I am not able to make progress with the templates. Copied one but nothing has changed on my website. You’ve pretty much lost me on this one Doug.

  • Doug Macklem June 2, 2013, 5:27 PM

    Wendy: Be sure you click “Save” after each change to HTML, CSS, and other pages. Thesis can be tricky as you make changes but don’t click the Save button. You scratch your head wondering why you don’t see your changes. Happens to me still. Let me know your exact steps if you still haven’t figured it out. I should really look into doing some video sessions.

  • Michelle June 8, 2013, 12:26 PM

    In your last paragraph you say that you can see which template is being used by the page – how can you change/designate the template that the particular page uses? I don’t want to set up a custom template, just set which template my pages should use (Front Page, Home etc). Thanks!

  • Doug Macklem June 8, 2013, 1:17 PM

    Michelle: if you check out Step 40 you can see where I create and use a custom template for a page. From what I can tell all posts will use the main “post” template called “single”. If you want to use a different template you will have to create it. This is easy as you create a new template then copy from the template you want to start with, then modify as you see fit. Home page is going to use “Home” template by default.

  • Doug Macklem June 8, 2013, 1:19 PM

    I know you said you don’t want to set up custom template but this is likely the only way to accomplish your goal. This is actually part of the power of Thesis 2 so don’t be intimidated. When you are posting a page or post, look in the right hand column and you will see a “Thesis Skin Custom Template” box with a drop-down where you can choose the template to use.

  • Sybille June 10, 2013, 11:13 AM

    Hi Doug,

    so how do I make 1 page look different from all the others?

    regards, Sybille

  • Doug Macklem June 22, 2013, 4:43 PM

    Sybille: the best way to do this is to determine what function each page is to serve and build a custom template for each type of page. To use the template you have to select the custom template name in the Page or Post editor within WordPress. Check out Step 40, scoll about half way down and look for the picture of the “Thesis Skin Custom Template” drop-down. When editing a post or page you can click this drop-down and select which custom template to use. Hope this is what you are looking for.

  • Jay June 9, 2014, 6:32 PM

    What is the simplest way of converting the “single” post page to look like the “landing page: wide”? I want the single post page to be centered with just the post content, no sidebars.
    When I remove the Sidebars, the content stays justified left. (I’m running Thesis 2.1).
    Thanks in advance!

  • Doug Macklem June 11, 2014, 7:38 PM

    You can use the template copy function to copy the landing page template to the single post. However, you will need to make sure the single post controls are on the landing page to pull in the content. I would suggest testing this on a test site or locally on your computer first. Also, create a “backup” template, naming it something like “Single Backup” and copy the single page template to this page. This way, you can use the single backup template to restore your single page should it not work as desired.

  • scott August 13, 2014, 9:46 AM

    Hi Doug. Thanks for all the help with Thesis for us “very” green beginners. I have a beginner question that is making me nuts and I know it has a simple solution. So, I understand the purpose of the templates. How do I get a specific template “Front page” associated with a specific page? When I create a page I don’t see anything on the page that allows me to choose the template “front page.” I see a menu that allows me to choose a custom template, but that’s it. Thanks!

  • Doug Macklem August 31, 2014, 8:15 AM

    You probably can’t choose the “front page” template. What you can do is create a new template and copy from the “front page” template. This way your new template will look and act like the front page template. Next, edit the page you want to use the template on and look at the column on the right side of the edit page. Look for “Thesis Skin Custom Template” box with a drop-down. In the drop-down you should be able to select your new template.

  • Connie Zimmermann May 6, 2015, 1:07 PM

    Thank you SO much for posting this. After sitting like a goof, and searching all around for a way to edit other Skins than the HOME skin, you saved the day!! Hovering over the HOME button did not occur to me, and would not have. I may have accidentally found it one day… but probably not! 🙂

  • Doug Macklem September 14, 2015, 8:13 PM

    Glad to help!

  • Danny Henley June 25, 2017, 4:13 PM

    Hey Doug, thanks for the comprehensive lesson on Thesis. I was wondering if you have a method of adding a category specific image, or text for that matter, to the top of my category pages. I have added a textbox to my Category template, but, of course, it is the same for every category. I use it to display an opt-in form, but I would love to be able to have a different set of content for different categories. Thanks in advance!

  • Doug Macklem June 25, 2017, 5:18 PM

    I think you can do this one of two (maybe more) ways:
    1) PHP code – I refuse to write PHP as it is very easy to break your site and I worry about future upgrades having issues. I try to limit my work to CSS/HTML within Thesis.

    2) Use custom page templates for each category. This way you can insert a text box at the top of each category and add your images there. One drawback is that if you want to add controls across categories you’d have to duplicate the effort for each category. If you don’t have dozens of categories this might not be a bad approach and it keeps you from having to write PHP functions.

    Let me know if you get this to work.

  • johnny December 2, 2017, 4:48 PM

    thanks for the detail info. i created a custom template. and then i created another one by copying that one over.
    however when i make changes to the original template, the changes show up in the one i copied? shouldn’t they be independent of each other by now?

  • Doug Macklem December 3, 2017, 7:29 PM

    They should be immediately independent. Bee sure the “button” at the top-left of the screen shows the template you want to work on. After you copy a template you need to select it and ensure the screen you are working on shows the desired template name at the top left.

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