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How to Use Wordpress Themes

Updated on February 28, 2010

In the previous tutorial, I talked about how to install your Wordpress blogging software. You might have found the easy way and discovered that your service provider included Fantastico to make it easy for you, or you might have gone through the steps I outlined. Regardless, if you look at your brand-new Wordpress blog, you might be a little bit disappointed. Right now you are running on the default settings, and you are going to want to make a few changes.

If you do not have Wordpress installed yet, please view my tutorial How to Download and Install Wordpress. This tutorial does not apply to people who are using!

I'm going to begin by guiding you through installing a new theme to Wordpress. I will not be walking you through creating a custom theme but will instead refer you to the Wordpress codex at the end of this article.

Click to View!
Click to View!

Installing a Wordpress Theme

Look at your site, where you installed Wordpress. If you haven't already changed your theme, it will look something like the image to the right (except that it should have your title instead of "Test Blog"). If you're like me, you probably don't particularly like the basic theme. It doesn't speak at all to who you are, it isn't individual, and I don't even feel that it is sufficiently professional for a professional website.

We're going to change the theme by taking the following steps:

1. Download the theme of your choice.

Using the link above, visit the site to download a theme. For right now it is easier to work with a freely provided theme, as I will not personally be creating or purchasing a theme for the purposes of this tutorial.

You will need to use the search feature to find a theme that you like. For me, I have chosen Oriental, one of my favorite themes. I advise previewing a theme before downloading it as you will save installation time if you decide that you don't like it! Some themes don't look like the thumbnail when they are in action!

2. Unzip your theme.

Your theme has arrived packaged as a zip file. Go ahead and unzip it so that you have the files extracted for upload.

Click to View!
Click to View!
Click to View!
Click to View!

3. Upload your theme.

Using your FTP client, navigate to the wordpress/wp-content/themes folder. This is the folder in which you will want to upload your theme.

The top image shows where to find your wp-content folder and the bottom image shows where you should look to find your themes folder.

When uploading, make sure that you upload the entire directory. In my case, I had a zip file called When I unzipped that file, I then had oriental.1.2.1. Inside of the directory I had a folder called oriental. It is this final directory that I uploaded (in its entirity) to my web host.

I recommend leaving the other folders within the themes folder intact.

Now you're going to be switching out of your FTP client and back to your web browser.

Click to View!
Click to View!

4. Log into Wordpress.

Navigate to your administrative control panel. In the default theme, the Meta widget is already installed for you so you will be able to click the "Log in" link on the main page.

You did write down that password, didn't you? If not, you can request to have it sent to your e-mail. Truth be told, that's what I had to do!

Once you are logged in, you will see your Wordpress dashboard, as pictured at right.

Click to View!
Click to View!

5. Open your appearance tab in Wordpress.

Halfway down the page you will see a link for "Appearance." Clicking this link will open up a screen which displays the various themes you have installed to Wordpress. Your installation really was just that easy!

6. Select the newly installed theme.

This will give you a preview screen.

7. Click "Activate."

The Activate button is in the upper right hand corner of the preview screen. Selecting this link will activate the theme on your blog!

Thank you for reading this tutorial! Upcoming is a tutorial about installing plugins to Wordpress! Stay tuned!

Great Books to Help you Get Started!

Questions? Ask Away!

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    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks for the help. I've been setting up my first self-hosted Wordpress blog ever this weekend, and I needed all the help I could get.

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      9 years ago from Indiana, USA

      I don't think you can code a table into the post actually, Marisa. Can't say I've tried it... But I don't think it's possible. If I have tried it, it was a long time ago lol

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      9 years ago from Sydney

      Good Hub!  Wanderer asked about tables - your idea of using a screenshot is probably easiest, because otherwise you're going to have to learn to use code.  Here's the help from Wordpress on writing code for posts, which might help:

    • Lgali profile image


      9 years ago

      thanks for sharing this useful info

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      9 years ago from Indiana, USA

      No problem! I hope that helped!

      I'm not writing today, just editing, so the next one won't be out until Monday. I haven't decided yet (since I haven't talked to badco) whether or not I'm going to cover plugin installation or post design (since he asked about that specifically).

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 

      9 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, teach. Talk to ya later.

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      9 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Yeah, that's wordpress, not built into the theme. You won't be able to use tables in the conventional way. What I would do is use another program to create a table and then make a screenshot of it.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 

      9 years ago from Singapore

      I'm not talking about the theme but the editor that you use to input your posts and your pages. I don't think the usual editor supports tables.

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      9 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Well, I am *not* versed in php *at all*. It's one of the few web languages that has me completely baffled. Just trying to edit it has caused me chaos when I was trying to create a theme for SMF one time. I almost got it done and then butchered it after about nine hours of work. I gave up.

      That doesn't mean I can't answer your question though:

      Where do you want to put a table in the theme? And yes, some come with a *lot* of features!

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 

      9 years ago from Singapore

      Probably jumping the gun a little, but I noticed that the Wordpress post editor can't handle tables. Is the same editor used for all the themes, or does some themes come with a super editor packed with super features? :)


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