2022-03-01    Share on: Twitter | Facebook | HackerNews | Reddit

Tutorial on How to Create New Theme for Pelican Static Site Generator

A great Pelican theme can make all the difference. Learn how to design your own with our comprehensive tutorial.

1. Choose a name for your theme

Choose a name that reflects the design or purpose of your theme. Make sure it's not already taken by another Pelican theme.

2. Create a new directory for your theme

Create a new directory under the themes directory in your Pelican project. Use the name you chose in step 1 as the directory name.

3. Create a templates directory

Inside your theme directory, create a new directory called templates. This is where you'll store all the HTML templates for your theme.

4. Create a base template

Create a base template for your theme. This template will define the basic structure of all your pages, and will be used as the starting point for all other templates. Here's an example of a simple base template:

<!DOCTYPE html>
        <title>{{ page.title }} | {{ site.title }}</title>
            <h1><a href="{{ SITEURL }}">{{ site.title }}</a></h1>
                    <li><a href="{{ SITEURL }}">Home</a></li>
                    {% for category, articles in categories.items() %}
                        <li><a href="{{ SITEURL }}/category/{{ category|slug }}">{{ category }}</a></li>
                    {% endfor %}
            {% block content %}{% endblock %}
            &copy; {{ date.today().year }} {{ site.author }}

In this template, {{ page.title }} and {{ site.title }} will be replaced with the title of the current page and the title of your site, respectively. The header section includes a navigation menu that lists all the categories on your site. The main section is where the content of each page will go. The footer includes your copyright information.

5. Create a static directory

Create a new directory called static inside your theme directory. This is where you'll store all the static assets (like CSS, images, and JavaScript) for your theme.

6. Create a theme.conf file

Create a new file called theme.conf in your theme directory. This file will contain metadata about your theme, like its name, author, and description. Here's an example theme.conf file:

name = My New Theme
description = A simple, responsive theme for Pelican
author = Jane Doe

7. Add CSS to your theme

Create a new file called style.css in your static directory. This is where you'll define the styles for your theme. Here's an example:

/* Base styles */
body {
    font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;

a {
    color: #0066cc;
    text-decoration: none;

a:hover {
    text-decoration: underline;

/* Header styles */
header {
    background-color: #f2f2f2;
    border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;
    padding: 10px;

header h1 {
    margin: 0;

nav ul {
    list-style: none;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;

nav li {
    display: inline-block;
    margin-right: 10px;

/* Main styles */

In addition to the base styles, you'll also want to add styles specific to your theme's layout and design. For example, if you're creating a blog theme, you might want to style the blog post titles, dates, and tags differently than the rest of the content. Here's an example:

/* Blog post styles */
.post-title {
    font-size: 24px;
    margin-bottom: 10px;

.post-date {
    font-style: italic;
    color: #666;
    margin-bottom: 10px;

.post-tags {
    margin-bottom: 10px;

.post-tags a {
    display: inline-block;
    background-color: #ddd;
    padding: 5px;
    margin-right: 5px;
    color: #333;
    font-size: 12px;
    text-transform: uppercase;
    border-radius: 3px;

.post-content {
    line-height: 1.5;

/* Sidebar styles */
.sidebar {
    float: right;
    width: 30%;
    margin-left: 20px;

.sidebar h2 {
    font-size: 18px;
    margin-bottom: 10px;

.sidebar ul {
    list-style: none;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;

.sidebar li {
    margin-bottom: 10px;

.sidebar li a {
    color: #0066cc;
    text-decoration: none;

.sidebar li a:hover {
    text-decoration: underline;

8. Create other templates

Now that you have a base template and some CSS, it's time to create the other templates for your theme. This will include templates for individual pages, blog posts, tags, categories, and any other pages your site might have. Here's an example of a blog post template:

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block content %}
    <h1 class="post-title">{{ page.title }}</h1>
    <p class="post-date">{{ page.date.strftime('%B %d, %Y') }}</p>
    <div class="post-tags">
        {% for tag in page.tags %}
            <a href="{{ SITEURL }}/tag/{{ tag|slug }}">{{ tag }}</a>
        {% endfor %}
    <div class="post-content">
        {{ page.content }}
{% endblock %}

In this template, the extends tag tells Pelican to use the base.html template as the starting point. The block content tag defines where the content of the page should go. The page.title, page.date, and page.tags variables are replaced with the title, date, and tags of the current blog post.

9. Configure your Pelican project

Once you've created your new theme, you'll need to configure your Pelican project to use it. In your pelicanconf.py file, set the THEME variable to the name of your theme directory. For example:

THEME = 'my-new-theme'

10. Test your theme

Finally, test your theme by running pelican and generating your site. If everything is working correctly, your new theme should be applied to all the pages on your site.

That's it! By following these steps, you should be able to create a new Pelican theme from scratch. Of course, this is just a basic example, and you can customize your theme further by adding more templates, styles, and features.

To cite this article:

    author  = {Krystian Safjan},
    title   = {Tutorial on How to Create New Theme for Pelican Static Site Generator},
    journal = {Krystian's Safjan Blog},
    year    = {2022},