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Importing parent theme styles

From: WordPress 3: Building Child Themes

Video: Importing parent theme styles

When you make a child theme, you start off with a theme that displays all the content without any style. That's because your child theme stylesheet is currently empty. If you're going to build a new layout with completely custom styles this is great because you can start from scratch, but in most cases, you want to import the existing styles from the parent theme and then work based on those styles. There are two ways of doing this and they're used in two very different scenarios, so I'll explain both of them and then I'll show you my recommendation.

Importing parent theme styles

When you make a child theme, you start off with a theme that displays all the content without any style. That's because your child theme stylesheet is currently empty. If you're going to build a new layout with completely custom styles this is great because you can start from scratch, but in most cases, you want to import the existing styles from the parent theme and then work based on those styles. There are two ways of doing this and they're used in two very different scenarios, so I'll explain both of them and then I'll show you my recommendation.

The two methods are overwriting versus overriding, and though they sound almost the same, they're very different when you actually do them. What I mean when I say overwriting is this; you go to the parent theme, you copy out all the code from the stylesheet, and you paste all that code into your child theme stylesheet. That way you have full micromanaging control over every little piece of style code in your theme, and you never have a situation where one piece of code overrides another piece of code.

It means that you can ignore anything that's happening in the parent theme, and you can write your own style code, and everything will be fine. That means no surprises, but it also means that if an update comes out for the parent theme, and that update includes new content, that new content will not be styled and you'll have to write styles for it. Overriding on the other hand works completely differently. Rather than copying the styles from the parent stylesheet over into the child stylesheet, you simply reference the parent styles, and then you just add the styles you want to change in your child theme styles.css file.

This means you have control over everything you want to control, and you leave everything else to the parent theme. It also means that any future styles that are included in an update will also be included in your child theme, and it means that in very rare cases some of those future styles may mess with what you've already created. But the most important thing about overriding is that you will always get all the updates and it's a lot less work. So I recommend, unless you're changing everything, you should always use the overriding method.

So let's see how that's done. If I go into my child theme stylesheet through WordPress > wp-content > themes and childoftwentytwelve, I'll open it in my code editor, and here I am going to import the styles from the original stylesheet. That's done with one line of code at import. This is the function, and then I say URL because I need to point to the original stylesheet. I wrap it in a parenthesis and then I have to point to the original stylesheet.

If I look in my themes folder, you'll see the original stylesheet is found under Twenty Twelve and it's down here and it's called style.css. So what I need to do is navigate out of childoftwentytwelve into twentytwelve and then point at the file. So I'll go dot dot, this navigates me one folder back so I am in the themes folder, /twentytwelve which is the parent theme folder, /style.css, and the parenthesis and now I'm going save the stylesheet, go back into the browser, reload the page.

And now you see because I am importing all the styles we now see the page that looks exactly like the Twenty Twelve theme, and if I go in to the source code, go Ctrl+U in Chrome, you can see down here we have the stylesheet and a link to the stylesheet. And if I click on this link which points to the stylesheet under childoftwentytwelve, you'll see that that in turn links directly to the 2012 stylesheet. Understanding this technique of importing the styles from the parent stylesheet into the child theme stylesheet without actually copying it, and then overriding those existing styles is very important when you work with the child themes, because then you only have to focus on changing the things that you want to change on the website and you can leave everything else alone.

This is the whole point of child themes. You make simple changes in a simple way without having to become a theme developer in the process.

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This video is part of

Image for WordPress 3: Building Child Themes
WordPress 3: Building Child Themes

45 video lessons · 33442 viewers

Morten Rand-Hendriksen
Author

 
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  1. 6m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
    3. What you need to know before watching this course
      1m 29s
    4. Getting the right tools for theme creation
      2m 50s
  2. 17m 2s
    1. What is a WordPress child theme and when should you use it?
      2m 38s
    2. Picking a parent theme
      3m 55s
    3. Making sure you have the Twenty Twelve parent theme
      1m 50s
    4. Creating and activating a basic child theme
      4m 20s
    5. Importing parent theme styles
      4m 19s
  3. 16m 2s
    1. Using the developer tools
      3m 53s
    2. Modifying existing styles
      4m 24s
    3. Adding space between paragraphs
      4m 7s
    4. Changing font family styles
      3m 38s
  4. 31m 47s
    1. Understanding the WordPress template hierarchy
      3m 12s
    2. Modifying existing templates
      2m 33s
    3. Moving the header image
      4m 29s
    4. Adding Related Posts feature to posts
      6m 26s
    5. Creating custom page templates
      5m 43s
    6. Using conditional statements for customized effects
      5m 41s
    7. Creating custom header, footer, and sidebar templates
      3m 43s
  5. 17m 5s
    1. Understanding the different index pages and what they do
      4m 6s
    2. Adding author, date, and time information to the index loop
      7m 15s
    3. Changing the appearance of category index pages
      5m 44s
  6. 43m 5s
    1. Introducing functions.php
      3m 24s
    2. Overriding existing functions
      3m 23s
    3. Adding pagination to index pages
      5m 49s
    4. Adding to existing functions
      3m 21s
    5. Adding a new footer menu to Twenty Twelve
      6m 24s
    6. Adding a new widgetized area to pages
      4m 9s
    7. Adding static content to the sidebar
      7m 44s
    8. Replacing existing functions
      2m 36s
    9. Adding a Google font through a function
      6m 15s
  7. 10m 24s
    1. Adding new featured image sizes
      5m 41s
    2. Adding featured images to posts and pages
      4m 43s
  8. 31m 1s
    1. Adding a welcome message to the front page
      1m 22s
    2. Displaying page content in an index page
      7m 42s
    3. Hooking in a featured image
      4m 34s
    4. Making the welcome message responsive
      6m 27s
    5. Restricting content to the first page of the blog
      4m 22s
    6. Adding a jQuery function to show or hide the welcome message
      6m 34s
  9. 10m 23s
    1. Adding a custom favicon
      3m 58s
    2. Adding a custom screenshot
      2m 29s
    3. Adding footer information
      3m 56s
  10. 7m 14s
    1. What to do when a child theme crashes your website
      4m 38s
    2. Updating parent and child themes
      2m 36s

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