WordPress Block Themes CSS and Style Settings Guide

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Ganesh Dahal on (Updated on )

Managing CSS in WordPress has dramatically changed since full-site editing features were introduced to block themes. This guide is geared toward block themes and how to configure them, from enabling editor features and controls to defining theme-wide CSS and customizaing the appearance of specific blocks.

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In the 2015 State of the World address, WordPress co-creator Matt Mullenweg famously directed the WordPress community to“Learn JavaScript deeply”. He set that expectation upfront because he wanted everyone to know that JavaScript would be essential to the future of WordPress, which was paving a path toward full-site editing with a React-based editing experience to be called the Block Editor.

That was years ago, and a concerted effort has been taking place to shift WordPress theme development from “classic” PHP-based templating to a more modular, component-driven model centered on “blocks” for constructing page and post layouts.

Now that we’re starting to see new block-based WordPress themes hit the Theme Directory, many of us who have been developing WordPress themes for years using “classic” PHP templates we’re sitting in some sort of middle-ground between “classic” and “block” themes. Geoff expanded on this feeling in another post, but the general sentiment is that working in WordPress is much different than before.

Where do you even start on a WordPress Block Theme project? That’s what this guide is all about. We could get into the nuances of working with React, but there’s already a good guide for that here on CSS-Tricks as well as tutorials on working with blocks.

Instead, this guide is geared toward block themes and how to configure them. Think of it as an extension to my previous article on managing styles in WordPress block themes. In there, we covered how to define CSS styles in the theme.json file — the foundation of all WordPress block themes, akin to how style.css is used in classic themes. We’re going to go deeper in this series, giving theme.json a proper introduction and documenting how it’s used to manage the appearance of a WordPress site that fully supports full-site editing features.

As it currently stands, finding resources and proper documentation for defining and managing styles in WordPress block themes is a task in and of itself. Unless you keep up with GitHub issues, Gutenberg plugin releases, and Make WordPress Core, you could feel lost in this new WordPress landscape. The WordPress Handbook won’t save you either because it is constantly several steps behind the breakneck speed of development.

So, let’s pull all of that together and learn about managing styles in WordPress block themes.