How to Find and Edit Code From WordPress Theme

How to Find and Edit Code From WordPress Theme Updated 2023 Must Read Guide

Updated : 31st, August 2023

Updated 2023 Must read guide on How to Find and Edit Code From WordPress Theme. Yaas! So, grab your snacks, 'cause I'm about to spill all the tea


Today we're about to kick some serious butt by diving into something that always seemed like rocket science to me: Finding and editing code from a WordPress theme. Yaas! So, grab your snacks, 'cause I'm about to spill all the tea. Back in the day, I would be like, "Uh, what's PHP? Is CSS a new boy band?" But not anymore, and after this, neither will you.

Key Takeaways

  • The essential languages you've got to know: HTML, CSS, PHP.
  • Accessing that WordPress theme code like you own it.
  • How to find what you're looking for. Like, where's that code hiding?
  • Editing like a pro and making sure you're not breaking stuff.
  • Tools and plugins that you can't live without!

Must-Know Coding Languages for WordPress Customization

Alright, let's start by setting the stage. To edit WordPress theme code, you've got to be familiar with HTML, CSS, and PHP. I remember spending, like, 20 hours in total over a week on Codecademy and some other free online courses. Totally worth it!

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

HTML is the OG. It gives structure to your site. Imagine it as the foundation of a building.

  • Basic tags: <h1>, <p>, <img>

  • Where to Learn: Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp
  • Time to Grasp Basics: 5 hours
  • My Experience: Took me 7 hours, multiple cups of coffee, and like a dozen YouTube tutorials.

HTML is not case-sensitive but keeping it lowercase is a best practice.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

CSS is the vibe of your site. It's the color scheme of your room, the outfit you wear. You get the drift, right?

  • Key Properties: color, font-size, margin
  • Where to Learn: W3Schools, CSS Tricks
  • Time to Grasp Basics: 7 hours
  • My Experience: Spent 8 hours and consulted with two Reddit forums.

CSS is sensitive to syntax, a single missing semi-colon can mess up your styles.

PHP (Hypertext Pre-Processor)

This guy is the control room of your site. PHP decides what happens when someone clicks a button or submits a form.

  • Key Functions: echo, if, else
  • Where to Learn:, Udemy (sometimes they have great deals)
  • Time to Grasp Basics: 8 hours
  • My Experience: Spent a weekend binging on PHP videos.

Accessing WordPress Theme Code

So how do you even get to this Willy Wonka Factory of code? Two main doors: WordPress Editor and FTP Clients.


Backup, please. The number of times UpdraftPlus saved me is more than the number of seasons in Friends (that's 10 for the uninformed).

WordPress Editor

  1. WordPress Dashboard
  2. Appearance -> Theme Editor

You'll see a sidebar full of PHP, CSS, and other files. I remember feeling like a hacker the first time I accessed it.


Be cautious here; one wrong move and your site could break. I broke mine 3 times, not cool!

FTP Clients

If you want to look like those dudes in hoodies from hacker movies, use FTP clients like FileZilla.

  1. Download FileZilla (it's free!)
  2. Connect to your server using the credentials your hosting provider gives you.
  3. Navigate to /wp-content/themes/your-theme-name

FTP makes you feel powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility. Be careful not to delete anything!

Finding What to Edit

Okay, it's not like a treasure hunt, but close enough.

Browser Developer Tools

Right-click on the thing you want to change on your site and hit Inspect or Inspect Element to see the code responsible for it.

Find Feature in WordPress Editor

Hit Ctrl+F or Cmd+F and type what you're looking for. This is great for zeroing in on specific lines of code.

Check the Stylesheet (style.css)

For 90% of your styling issues, you're going to end up in style.css. I had to change the ugly default blue links in my WordPress theme, and style.css was where I found the cure.

Did You Know

You can add custom CSS in style.css of your child theme, and it will override the parent theme's CSS?

Editing Code Like a Pro

Start With a Child Theme: If you edit the parent theme and it updates, all changes are gone. Poof!

Comment Your Changes: Whenever you make a change, comment it. Trust me, you won't remember why you made that change in two weeks.

Check, Check, Check: After making changes, check the frontend. Keep an eye out for anything funky.

Tools and Plugins to Make Your Life Easier

Here's my ultimate toolkit, y'all!

Tool/Plugin What's It For How Much
UpdraftPlus Backup Free & $70/year for premium
FileZilla FTP Access Free
Sublime Text Code Editor Free 


Alright, champs, there you have it. I've armed you with all you need to know to be a WordPress code ninja. Back when I started, I felt like I was reading alien hieroglyphs, but with time and practice, you get the hang of it. Coding is less about the syntax and more about problem-solving. So flex those brain muscles, get into that code, and make that website the talk of the town!


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