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My WordPress Theme is Broken

If you are using WordPressMU or , contact your host server or through the Feedback button to fix the WordPress Theme you are using.

Generally, before a WordPress Theme is released to the public it should have been thoroughly tested on different browsers and computers, and validated for errors. WordPress Themes usually break after the user gets in and messes with it.

If this isn’t the case, check to make sure that you followed the Theme author’s instructions to the letter. Consider downloading another version, making sure it is the most current version, and uploading it again. Make sure all the parts and pieces are in the right place and called the right names.

Then deselect the Theme for another one, test to make sure that one, the default or class, works on your site, and then switch to the new one and see if that works.

Run a validation of the code on your site and fix any errors found. That often fixes a lot of the problems.

If none of these work, contact the Theme author and check their website to see if anyone else is having similar problems, or if there is a new version, since many authors are updating their templates as people begin to play with them and find little ickies that need fixing.

If you are unable to get help from the Theme author or their site, and you are sure it isn’t you, search the WordPress Support Forum for help and the Internet to see if someone else has had the same problem. If not, then post your question, including your attempts to solve it, in the WordPress Support Forum Themes and Templates section.

I Broke My WordPress Theme

If you are the guilty party and your WordPress Theme is messed up because of something you did, here are some things to check and do before you coming running to the WordPress Support Forum.

  • Validate your web page and fix all errors. Be sure to validate specific pages like the front page, single post, Page, archive, and category to be sure the error isn’t within those template files.
  • Read through and use the testing and checking resources in the WordPress Codex article on CSS Troubleshooting.
  • If you haven’t already, install FireFox Internet browser and the Web Development add-ons. Using these, try the following:
    • Using Outline > Block Level Items puts borders around the different containers on your page to help you track down the specific troublesome area.
    • Using Edit CSS, manually edit the styles for that page that appear in the sidebar, watching the changes take place live as you add or delete styles. If you solve the problem, be sure and copy or save the file so you can put the changes in your style.css file permanently.
  • Search the Internet, WordPress Codex, and WordPress Support Forum as someone may have had the same problem and came up with a solution.

If all else fails and you can’t figure out how to solve this, then check with the WordPress Support Forum’s Theme and Template section and ask. Explain what you have already tried to eliminate the normal suspects.

The Sidebar is at the Bottom of the Page

As you start manipulating your WordPress Theme layout and design, often copying codes and styles from other Themes and putting them into your own, you will get structural problems. The header, content, sidebar, and footer are all within “containers”, HTML structures that contain information. Within the style.css style sheet are instructions which tell these containers where to sit on the page, how big to be, and how to look.

Sidebar content that is too long pushes the sidebar to overlap the contentThink of these structural containers like dominos. When you change one, they all are affected. If you widened the content container, it will push the sidebar down because now the position of the container next to it has changed and the positioning of the sidebar hasn’t. Go into your sidebar’s styles and change them to accommodate the rest of the structural changes.

Sometimes something else in the container will push the sidebar around. Comment forms feature wide text input areas for names, email, website address, and text that need to be sized so they sit within the content area and not stretch across into the sidebar area. Make sure your comment inputs have a width set to keep it within their container area.

Closeup of sidebar overlapping content pushed over by long textLong words, graphics, links, or blocks of code that don’t wrap will also push the edges of your containers around. If you have a long link featuring no spaces in your sidebar, it can push it’s edges out to overlap the content container, even possibly pushing that container down below your sidebar. Check carefully for long words or graphics that can push the width of your containers around. Either resize the graphic, or put a space in the word, or make whatever change you need to accommodate the “pushy” content.

Sorting Category Lists

Categories are displayed usually in the sidebar and many people want to change the order they are listed in.

There are two template tags that control how the category list is generated:

Both work the same way but use different commands to get the same results. By default, you have two ways of sorting your categories: name and ID.

<?php list_cats(FALSE, ' ', 'name'); ?>

<?php wp_list_cats('sort_column=name&sort_order=desc'); ?>

If neither of these work for you, and you want to control the order, set the order before you start using WordPress. If you want to change it after, it involves a lot of work and digging into the database. So plan your categories ahead of time.

There will be more information coming on how to fix your broken WordPress Theme, and here is some more help on this site to help solve some of your WordPress Theme problems.

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