- 1 Introduction
- 2 The Template File Hierarchy
- 3 See also
WordPress Templates fit together like the pieces of a puzzle to generate the web pages on your WordPress site. Some templates (the header and footer template files for example) are used on all the web pages, while others are used only under specific conditions.
What this article is about
This article seeks to answer the following question:
Which template file(s) will WordPress use when it displays a certain type of page?
Who might find this useful
Since the introduction of Themes in WordPress v1.5, Templates have become more and more configurable. In order to develop WP themes, a proper understanding of the way WordPress selects template files to display the various pages on your blog is essential. If you seek to customize an existing WordPress theme, this article aims to help you decide which template file needs editing.
Conditional Tags and the Template Hierarchy
WordPress provides more than one way to match templates to query types. WordPress Theme developers can also use Conditional Tags to control which templates will be used to generate a certain page. Some WordPress Themes may not implement all of the template files described here. Some Themes use conditional tags to load other template files. See the Theme Development and Conditional Tags pages for more.
The Template File Hierarchy
The General Idea
WordPress uses the Query String — information contained within each link on your web site — to decide which template or set of templates will be used to display the page.
First, WordPress matches every Query String to query types — i.e. it decides what type of page (a search page, a category page, the home page etc.) is being requested.
Templates are then chosen — and web page content is generated — in the order suggested by the WordPress Template hierarchy, depending upon what templates are available in a particular WordPress Theme.
WordPress looks for template files with specific names in the current Theme's directory and uses the first matching template file listed under the appropriate query section below.
With the exception of the basic index.php template file, Theme developers can choose whether they want to implement a particular template file or not. If WordPress cannot find a template file with a matching name, it skips down to the next file name in the hierarchy. If WordPress cannot find any matching template file, index.php (the Theme's home page template file) will be used.
If your blog is at http://domain.com/wp/ and a visitor clicks on a link to a category page like http://domain.com/wp/category/your-cat/, WordPress looks for a template file in the current Theme's directory that matches the category's ID. If the category's ID is 4, WordPress looks for a template file named category-4.php. If it is missing, WordPress next looks for a generic category template file, category.php. If this file does not exist either, WordPress looks for a generic archive template, archive.php. If it is missing as well, WordPress falls back on the main Theme template file, index.php.
If a visitor goes to your home page at http://domain.com/wp/, WordPress looks for a template file called home.php and uses it to generate the requested page. If home.php is missing, WordPress looks for a file called index.php in the active theme's directory, and uses that template to generate the page.
The following diagram shows which template files are called to generate a WordPress page based on the WordPress Template hierarchy. It also illustrates the relationship of Query Strings to corresponding Conditional Tags.
Download ArgoUML-0.22-File (zargo) (external link)
The Template Hierarchy In Detail
The following sections describe the order in which template files are being called by WordPress for each query type.
The Main page
Single Post page
For example, a monthly archive page.
Search Result page
404 (Not Found) page
The following links have direct relevance to the topic of this article.