Don’t Use WordPress Twenty Ten Theme!!!

The default, since version 3.0 at least, theme for WordPress is Twenty-Ten. It is a very good theme. I use it on this site. So why am I telling you not to use it? Because some day you are probably going to want to tweak the theme for one reason or another. Change the width of the sidebar, change the menu text spacing, etc. The problem is that every time you update WordPress all the default theme files get overwritten erasing all your keenly crafted edits.

The solution is to make a copy of the Twenty Ten theme. If you Google the subject you will find several articles on making “child themes”. The whole child theme process is a little too complicated and confusing. I find it easier to just make a copy of the theme.

Making a copy is super simple. Just FTP to your WordPress theme directory: /wp-content/themes/ FTP the entire twentyten folder to your computer. All you have to do is make two changes. First, rename the folder to anything you like. I named my folder “mytwentyten”. Second, open the style.css file in a plane text editor. Wordpad will work fine. At the top of the file you will see the following header:

Theme Name: Twenty Ten
Theme URI:
Description: The 2010 theme for WordPress is stylish, customizable, simple, and readable — make it yours with a custom menu, header image, and background. Twenty Ten supports six widgetized areas (two in the sidebar, four in the footer) and featured images (thumbnails for gallery posts and custom header images for posts and pages). It includes stylesheets for print and the admin Visual Editor, special styles for posts in the “Asides” and “Gallery” categories, and has an optional one-column page template that removes the sidebar.
Author: the WordPress team
Version: 1.2
License: GNU General Public License
License URI: license.txt
Tags: black, blue, white, two-columns, fixed-width, custom-header, custom-background, threaded-comments, sticky-post, translation-ready, microformats, rtl-language-support, editor-style, custom-menu

All you need to change is the theme name. I used: Theme Name: My Twenty Ten Save the file and you are ready to FTP your new mytwentyten folder up to your WordPress themes directory /wp-content/themes/

Done. Now when you log into your dashboard and click on “Appearance” you will see your new My Twenty Ten theme. Just click on activate to use it. Now you can tweak the theme to your hearts content and not have your work erased every time there is a WordPress update.

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20 Responses to Don’t Use WordPress Twenty Ten Theme!!!

  1. Someone Sensible says:

    Brilliant!! thanks for this!

  2. Andrew Davis says:

    Thanks very much for this Blog post!
    If I didn’t know about this, I may have lost all my changes and hard work eventually.

    I did your suggestion right now, and I feel much more safer with my Template edits.

    Best regards!
    -Andrew |

  3. Josh says:

    Agreed, copying the theme and editing it from there is much simpler than mucking around with child themes. I just can’t seem to get them to work properly. The only downside with simply copying the theme, is you can’t take advantage of any new tweaks that the updated theme might have – new features, templates etc…

  4. Craig Harris says:

    True but I don’t think there will be many/any changes for the Twenty Ten theme. If there are any you want you can always copy them over.

  5. Ian Stewart says:

    Making a copy of Twenty Ten will prevent your tweaked version from being upgraded — but it has the unfortunate side effect of preventing your tweaked version from being upgraded. :) With any theme, especially the default theme as it’s updated so often, your best bet is still using a WordPress Child Theme. There are some tutorials out there that make it sounds more difficult than it really is — which is quite easy. Here’s my favorite tutorial:

    How to make a child theme for WordPress: A pictorial introduction for beginners

    It might seem simpler at first to copy a theme and start tweaking but in the end it puts more of a burden on you as you’re put in the place of having to keep up with WordPress development. That said, I find that scenario pretty fun. And, then again, making a WordPress Child Theme is fun too. You win either way. :)

  6. Gayle says:

    Thank You! A simple elegant solution! I have been struggling with a WordPress 2010 child theme for a while now. This is a good solution for me and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it.

  7. That’s exactly what I was looking for! I was wondering why my tweaks disappeared when I updated WP. I hadn’t updated any themes, so I was really confused.
    @Ian: An even better solution! I’m going to check out the child theme route!

  8. parmjeet says:

    making child themes is confusing.Thanks for the simple solution.

  9. Making child theme is better, easier. 😀

  10. Mark says:

    Another way – to save a folder with the default theme before updating and to fill in for hosting after update))

  11. Diane says:

    I was searching for instructions for creating a post gallery when I came upon this post at your site. I had no trouble making a child theme for twenty ten and am glad I went that route. I do not want to have to keep up with all the updates! Your idea about copying a theme is okay as long as folks understand their copied theme will not contain any updates or improvements made by WordPress. A child theme automatically receives the updates and improvements, if I understand things correctly.

    Somebody chime in if my thinking is not right on this. I would hate to lead anyone astray.

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    • Craig Harris says:

      Diane: you are correct in that a child theme will inherit updates that the parent theme receives. UNLESS the updates are to a page (other than functions.php) that you have modified in your child theme. Your child theme page will take precedence over the parent theme page updated or not.

      Another downside to child themes is that you get a performance hit as WordPress has to look in two places for the theme files.

  12. Karina says:

    That happened to me but know the changes to my template are still the same. I don’t know what I did that it looks like I have ruined it. Do you think I have to intall everything again?

    • Jo says:

      @karina –

      Check your hosting panel (or contact your hosting company) as you may be able to restore the theme from a backup. Good luck!

  13. stan says:

    Thanks for the tut on child theme creation, i really dont know if this thread is still alive but i would like to know how you added the banner ad to the top of your content area

    • Craig Harris says:

      Stan: For the ads on this site I use the plugin “Quick Adsense” by Philip Ze. It is simple to setup and use. The only shortcoming of this plugin is that you are limited to 10 content ads and 10 widget ads, also the widget ads don’t rotate.

  14. Kea says:

    My first free theme is Twenty Eleven. I am working on it offline in THEME TEST DRIVE (there is an existing “Active” html coded site that the original designer published). In THEME OPTIONS, it is apparent that the free Theme does not reflect all the options necessary to complete my design (unless I just want a replace the header and change a font!).

    I’m non-tech and can’t write code, so I need to see ALL the options to “click” or “upload” to create a new design. Is it possible the current coded “active” site is interfering with the theme options of my offline Twenty Eleven theme? If so, will I need to take my theme live for all the options to appear? Any ideas? Please help soon. Thank you!

  15. Marek says:

    How about moving the navigation links from the black area under the header image, lower down and/or changing the links properties and coloers?

    • Craig Harris says:

      You’ll need to modify the themes style.css file. All the colors are in there shown a hexadecimal.

      Try this to move the menu bar.

      /* =Structure
      -------------------------------------------------------------- */
      /* The main theme structure */
      #access .menu-header,,
      #wrapper {
      margin: 0 auto;
      width: 940px;
      #branding { min-height: 170px; }

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