Themes overview (SharePoint Server 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-09-25

Themes provide a quick and easy way to apply colors and fonts to sites in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. When a theme is applied to a site, the color of most page elements — such as background images, text, and hyperlinks — changes. The fonts used for some page elements, such as titles, also change. Themes can be used with the standard SharePoint Server 2010 site templates, or with custom master pages, and then themes can be created that site owners can apply to their sites.

This article includes an overview of themes and how they work. This article does not describe how to create custom themes by using Microsoft Office 2010 applications, or how to upload and manage themes in a theme library. It also does not discuss how to plan for the overall branding of sites by using master pages or cascading style sheets. For more information, see Web Content Management and Branding.

In this article:

Themes enable lightweight branding of a SharePoint Server 2010 site by allowing a site owner or a user with designer rights to make changes to the colors and fonts of user interface elements of a site. Themes are applied and customized directly in the user interface, and do not require knowledge of cascading style sheets or master pages.

An advantage of using themes is that developer resources are not needed for site owners and users with designer rights to make basic changes to a site. Themes are a simple method of branding a site; they do not affect the layout of a site.

By default, a theme is only applied to the site for which a specific theme is selected. If the site is a publishing site — or if the publishing feature was enabled for a site — when configuring the theme for a site, you can choose to either inherit the theme from the parent site or specify a theme that will be used by the site and all sites that inherit from it. When an alternate theme is selected and applied to a site, you can choose to apply the theme only to that site, or to that site and all sites below it in the site hierarchy. This will override any unique themes that those sites may have applied.

Themes in SharePoint Server 2010 have been redesigned to simplify the process of generating themes. Themes created in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 are not compatible with SharePoint Server 2010. If you are upgrading from Office SharePoint Server 2007 to SharePoint Server 2010, you can use Visual Upgrade to continue to use sites in the old user interface. However, we recommend that you use the new user interface in SharePoint Server 2010 to create themes and apply them to your sites.

There are three ways to use themes on a site:

  • Use a preinstalled theme.

  • Modify a preinstalled theme.

  • Upload a custom theme to the theme library.

SharePoint Server 2010 comes with preinstalled themes, including the default SharePoint theme. When a new site is created, it will use the default SharePoint theme. If you want the site to use the theme of the parent site, configure the theme to inherit from the parent site.

When a preinstalled theme is modified, a new theme called Custom is created automatically after the theme changes have been applied. There can only be one Custom theme for a site. SharePoint Server 2010 does not provide a way to save themes within the user interface. If you modify a preinstalled theme, apply the changes (thereby creating a new theme called Custom), and then modify a second preinstalled theme, the second preinstalled theme becomes the Custom theme when the settings are applied. To have multiple custom themes, you must create and upload your own custom themes to the theme gallery for the site collection.

You can create custom themes by modifying styles in an Office 2010 application, such as Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, and saving the theme. This creates a .thmx file that you can upload to the theme gallery for a site collection. Customized themes in the theme gallery are available to all sites in that site collection. For more information about themes in Office 2010 applications, see What is a theme? ( For information about how to create and upload themes to SharePoint Server 2010, see Working with SharePoint 2010 Themes (