Creating a Child Theme

A child theme is a WordPress theme which inherits and overrides the styles and templates of the parent theme. Basically, a child theme allows you to change the functionality of the theme without modifying the parent theme's files. So, it is highly recommended to use a child theme if you are planning to modify the parent theme.

How a Child Theme Works

A child theme cannot function on its own. That is why both the child theme and the parent theme must be installed on your website, and the child theme has to be activated.

Once the child theme is activated, WordPress will look for the template files in the child theme folder. If the file does not exist in the child theme then it will go to the parent theme folder.

For example, if your child theme has the footer.php file then WordPress will use that file. Otherwise, it will use the footer.php file that is located in the parent theme.

When to Use a Child Theme

A child theme is an addition to your existing WordPress theme. If you are planning to do heavy changes to the parent theme, such as modifying templates files, then you should definitely use a child theme. It will allow you to customize your theme without losing your changes when WordPress updates are made.

If you are planning to do just a few style changes then it is totally optional to use a Child theme. WordPress 4.7 comes with the Additional CSS feature that allows you to write custom CSS and make your styling changes with live previews in the Customizer. This is a theme specific feature, meaning you won’t have to remove the custom CSS if you switch themes.

If you want to display your custom CSS even when the themes are switched then you should use a plugin that comes with custom CSS functionality. For example, Simple Custom CSS

Creating a Child Theme

There are many great tutorials on how to create a child theme for the parent theme you're already using:

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