WordPress Theme Not Displaying Correctly (Here’s a Solution)

Let’s face it. WordPress is great but comes with a few things that could’ve been better. Here are some fixes to the most occurring theme bugs.

If you are working with WordPress, you have probably seen the numberless forums throughout the Internet each time you have encountered a problem with your theme. Issues with WordPress themes happen regularly, and they usually have a quick and easy fix. So, why is your WordPress theme not displaying correctly?

There are several common problems with themes that happen to developers. These issues usually come from missing files, plugins not working properly, and poorly developed themes. However, these problems can be fixed easily if you can know where to look for the issue.

In this article, I will discuss the most common problems that occur with WordPress themes. I will also explain how you can fix them without wasting your time on forums and support groups. You can get your WordPress themes displaying correctly again if you follow the listed instructions thoroughly.

Missing Stylesheet

If you have recently bought a new theme, but you have an issue during installation, you should not be alarmed immediately. You should not assume that you have been deceived by the developer that gave you a theme without a stylesheet.

It is possible to receive a zip file without style.css, but usually, the problem arises because you have not uploaded the root theme folder.

The main stylesheet or style.css is a file that is an essential component of every WordPress theme. This file controls the visual representation of the website, i.e. the design and the layout. That being said, it is understandable that your theme will not display correctly if you are missing this particular stylesheet.

To have a certain theme working properly on WordPress you will need this stylesheet located in the root directory of the theme. If the style.css is located in the subdirectory, you should not expect a correct display of the theme.


To resolve this issue, you would have to locate and open the theme folder on your desktop. It might be zipped, so you would have to unzip it. Once you open the folder, you will find all of the files there.

However, if you are still not able to see the style.css file, then you should probably look for it in a subdirectory. Usually, the theme folders are named the same as the theme, so you should search for the stylesheet in there.

Once found, you will need to zip it and upload it through WordPress. You can do the same thing by uploading the folder via FTP, but in that case, the folder needs to be unzipped.

Another way to go about it is to get help from an agency. I’ve done it once and there are a ton of freelance web designers in Surrey should you be interested.

The Theme’s Homepage Does Not Look Like The Demo

Once you have installed the chosen theme, you might see that your homepage does not look like the demo that you saw before making the purchase.

You have to remember that WordPress cannot make your theme automatically active. This means that you will have to do some adjustments to have a harmonious work between WordPress and the theme in question.

Therefore, when you have this issue you might try a couple of things to have it resolved.

Solution 1

The first thing you should check is whether the reading settings are correct. You will need to see if your theme requires a homepage to be set and to set your site for the opposite.

So, you will need to go to ‘Settings’ and then choose ‘Reading’. After that, you need to check the options in ‘Front Page Displays’. If your theme does not need any template for the homepage layout, you will need to choose the option ‘Your latest posts’.

On the other hand, if your theme uses a template, then you will need to set your website to use a static homepage.

Solution 2

If the first solution does not work, then your theme needs a template for the homepage. Many theme developers choose to use custom page templates for their homepage layouts. So, you will need to read the documentation files, and if they do not exist, you should create a new page.

To create a new page, you will have to select ‘Page Attributes’, and then ‘Templates’. In this section, you have to check whether there is a Home, Homepage, Frontpage, or similar template. If you find this kind of template, you will use it for creating a new page.

After you are done, you will need to save your changes, and then head to ‘Settings’. You will need to choose the ‘Reading’ section and set the new page as your static home page option.

Posts Are Returning 404 Errors

If your posts are returning 404 errors, you don’t need to worry. Your posts are most likely still there. This issue is easily fixed by updating the permalink settings.

This is a very common problem that usually happens when themes with custom post types are in question. Every time you switch to a theme with custom post types you need to reset your permalink settings.


You can solve this problem by heading over to ‘Settings’, choosing ‘Permalinks’, and then clicking ‘Save’. This is usually the solution, so you will not be required to do anything else.

However, if this does not work, you will have to manually update your .htaccess. If you are a rookie, you should not this on your own. In this case, it is better to reach out to a developer for help.

Ugly Structure of URL

When you set up your WordPress website for the first time, you may notice that the URL is not very “pretty” or SEO-friendly. It is abundant with numbers and needless details. Luckily, this problem can be solved easily.


This basic solution includes only one step. You should head over to ‘Settings’, then ‘Permalinks’, and change the setting to the “Post Name” or whatever is suitable for you.

Recent Changes Are Not Visible

When you want to make some changes to make your site more appealing, or more suitable for a certain niche, you usually add some custom CSS to it. But, as you refresh your site you cannot see any of the changes or modifications you have recently done. In this case, you probably have some Browser or Plugin cashing issues.

When this happens, you can take a few steps to ensure that everything works properly, so you can see the applied changes.


The most common issue that may prevent your edits from being applied is using some kind of caching plugin. For example, W3 Total Cache might cache your CSS. Therefore, to resolve the problem you would have to disable it.

Another thing that may prevent you from seeing your edits might be the usage of WordPress Customizer. If you use it, you should make sure that you click ‘save’ every time you make some changes and then refresh the site.

If you are trying to change the background image, but it does not work, you should try uploading a different image just as a test. You may also upload a 1px solid color and set it to repeat. This should do the trick.

If you are using WordPress Editor Changes for making edits, you might not see your changes due to server permissions. In this case, you will get an error, so you would know what is causing the changes not to appear.

Errors In Sample Data Import

You have installed the theme successfully, but now when you try to import a sample.xml file provided by the developer, you still receive an error. This issue can be caused by two things, therefore you can try two solutions and see which one will work for you.

Solution 1

The error you receive might be out of two things. The first reason might be that the errors occur due to trying to load posts from custom post types that do not exist yet.

So, you will need to choose whether your theme is activated properly, or double-check if the theme includes custom post types. If you do not know how to check, you can simply ask the developer.

Solution 2

If you get the error ‘Failed to import Media’, this means that the images are not downloaded. In this case, you need to check the box that says ‘download and import file attachments’.

Another thing you should check is whether the images are accessible from the server. To check properly, you can open the sample data in the text editor and try to find the location of one of those files. Then you can test the link in your browser.

Also, you can get in touch with the developer of the theme and tell them that the images cannot be downloaded. This may be the simplest way to solve this issue.

Images Are Not Displaying Properly

When you upload images to your website, you should consider their size and appearance. The images you upload might look different after you change your theme. So, if your images look a bit stretched, you should not worry because there is a simple solution for that.


You should head over to ‘Plugins’ and choose ‘Add New Button’. Then you need to search for the ‘Regenerate Thumbnails’ plugin. Once you find it, you have to install and activate it.

Afterward, you will have to go to ‘Tools’ and choose ‘Regen Thumbnails’. Lastly, you will have to run the plugin and click refresh. This should fix the issue and you will get rid of the stretched images.

As you could see, these are the most common issues that happen when you install a new theme. You have seen that all of these problems have easy fixes, so you will not have to contact the theme developer every time you encounter an issue. Instead of waiting for a response, you can simply do quick research and resolve the problem by yourself.

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