WordPress Themes vs. Templates: Unraveling the Differences

As I delved deeper into the world of WordPress, I encountered a common issue related to the use of the terms “theme” and “template.” The distinction between these two concepts is often unclear, even among experienced webmasters, project creators, and developers. Search engines themselves contribute to the confusion. If you try searching for “WordPress themes” on Google or Yandex, you’ll likely find a blend of themes and templates in the results.

Let’s clear up this ambiguity and define these terms once and for all.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is a collection of files, both mandatory and additional, responsible for the appearance of your website. It encompasses the overall design and styling of your blog, including images, style sheets, page templates, and additional files. These elements collectively create the unique design associated with a specific theme, providing your blog with distinct functionality.

In the admin panel, to access the list of installed themes, you should navigate to “Appearance” and then “Themes” (notice the use of “Themes” and not “Templates”). If you open the style.css file in a text editor, you’ll find the theme name listed at the top. For example:

Theme Name: Kotha

Once again, the terminology used is “Theme,” not “Template.” Therefore, it’s crucial to understand that WordPress installations involve Themes, not Templates.

What is a WordPress Template?

A WordPress template is a separate script responsible for the appearance of specific elements on your blog. Templates dictate which items are displayed on a page and where they are positioned. The script code is placed in files, often referring to templates for specific page types, such as index.php or single.php, or templates governing specific design components, like header.php and footer.php. Each theme can comprise various templates, each with its hierarchy.

To explore and understand what “Templates” are, you can access the built-in WordPress editor under “Appearance” -> “Editor.” There, you’ll find an extensive list of templates, including 404 errors, archives, comments, and more.

From this list of templates, your website’s visual representation is constructed, much like assembling a puzzle to create a graphical representation of your site.

In summary, “WordPress Theme” and “WordPress Template” are not synonymous. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that many people may not be aware of these differences, ignore them, or simply consider them insignificant. It’s important not to be overly critical of these nuances and avoid unnecessary disputes. As the saying goes, “Call it a kettle, as long as you don’t put it on the stove!”

The majority of readers may not rush to change the terms “theme” and “template” in their content, and that’s okay. The key is for you to understand the distinction. Just as some people pronounce “ringing” as “zvonit” and others as “zvonit,” the essence remains the same. What matters most is that you understand the difference, even if others do not.