What is the difference between the theme and the WordPress template?

Confusing a motif with a template is one of the most popular mistakes, even among people who have been using WordPress for years. It’s worth getting to know the difference, because both terms in WordPress mean something completely different, and the concept of a template is responsible for one of the most interesting functions of WordPress, about which many beginners do not know.

The theme is an extension to WordPress, which completely changes the visual layer visible to the readers of the page. Themes are managed in the cockpit in the Appearance > Themes section:

Select a theme in the WordPress panel.
Select a theme in the WordPress panel.

However, templates support is a special WordPress function, which allows us to change the appearance of selected subpages – if we use a theme that has built-in templates, we will see an additional selection list when editing any subpage in the Attributes block:

Select a template in the WordPress theme.
Select a template in the WordPress theme.

Above you can see an example from one of the old WordPress default themes – Twenty Fourteen. It has two templates for subpages: Full page width and Co-worker’s page. Thanks to this it was possible to change the appearance of the subpage without modifying the code of the theme.

The simplest way to remember the title difference is this way: Themes are extensions that change the appearance of a page based on WordPress, and templates are a function of themes, allowing you to create additional styles for selected subpages.

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