How to Use Page Templates in WordPress Twenty Fifteen

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Although the page-slug.php feature in WordPress is very helpful, sometimes requiring the theme’s user to use the name you chose for a feature is too difficult or unnecessary. Page templates allow you to create a stand-alone template (just like page.php or single.php) that users can use on any specific page they choose.

As opposed to the page-slug.php feature, a Page template can be used on more than one page. The combined features of user selection and multiple uses make Page templates a much more powerful theme tool than page-slug.php templates.

To make a template a Page template, simply add Template Name: Descriptive Name to a comment section at the top of the template file. For example, this is the beginning of a onecolumn-page.php Page template:

<?php
/**
* Template Name: One column, no sidebar
*
* A custom Page template without sidebar.
*
* The “Template Name:” bit above allows this to be selectable
* from a dropdown menu on the edit page screen.
*
*/

This code registers the template file with WordPress as a Page template and adds One Column, No Sidebar to the Template drop-down list found under Page Attributes in the Add New Page (or Edit Page) screen. Using a template on a static page is a two-step process: Upload the template and then tell WordPress to assign the template by tweaking the page’s code.

The Add New Page screen on the Dashboard showing page attributes for template assignment.

The Add New Page screen on the Dashboard showing page attributes for template assignment.

The preceding code sample demonstrates you can create a One Column, No Sidebar Page template in the Twenty Fifteen theme; however, in reality, you need only three lines to make it happen. Here is the code that appears at the top of the static-page template on the About page at webdevstudios.com:

<?php
/*
Template Name: About Page
*/
?>

The important part is defining the Template Name between the starting and ending PHP function calls. This tells WordPress to recognize this as a unique template and then include it in the list of available templates within the Page Attributes on the Add New Page screen (it also appears on the Add New Page page).

By providing a robust set of Page templates, you can offer your theme users easy-to-use options for formatting different pages within their websites.