Development and WordPress

What are the standard or default template files for a custom theme?

BIG linden / Support Docs / What are the standard or default template files for a custom theme?

Development and WordPress


We’re starting to develop a custom theme for our website and need some help understanding the standard or default template files that are used in WordPress. Can you explain what files we need?


The client needs more information on the standard template files used in a WordPress theme so they can begin building out their own custom theme.

What are the standard or default template files for a custom theme?

When working with WordPress themes, there are several standard and default template files that need to be included.

According to the developer documentation: “the only files needed for a WordPress theme to work out of the box are an index.php file to display your list of posts and a style.css file to style the content… Once you get into more advanced development territory and your themes grow in size and complexity.”

Required files for a WordPress theme to work:

  • index.php
  • style.css

The following is a list of what custom theme developers consider the standard/default files for developing WordPress themes from scratch:

  • index.php
  • single.php
  • footer.php
  • functions.php
  • style.css

“When you are building your theme, you will use template files to affect the layout and design of different parts of your website. For example, you would use a header template or template part to create a header” explains the WordPress team.

“The most critical template file is the index, which is the catch-all template if a more-specific template can not be found in the template hierarchy. Although a theme only needs a index template, typically themes include numerous templates to display different content types and contexts.”

Going much further into the specific requirements for a custom theme’s files really depends too greatly on the specifics of your organization’s website you are developing, and also on whether you will be utilizing a classic theme or a block theme development model.

Additional reading

More articles about Development and WordPress

More articles related to and .

Capabilities related to Development and WordPress:

Prevent attacks, regain control of your WordPress website with Enterprise security solutions.
Move your website from Wix to WordPress and get the website you need.


Get a 30 minute 1:1 consult with a BIG consultant and get a 7 page report on making digital work in your organization with key insight into paths for success and playbooks just for your unique needs.

Please understand not all requests can be met. Please contact us with any questions.