Semiologic Theme, Reloaded For WordPress

The Semiologic theme for WordPress, known as Semiologic Reloaded until its legacy implementation got deprecated, is the all-singing, all-dancing theme that accompanies Semiologic Pro 6.0 and up. It is, possibly, the most flexible and all embracing theme you'll find for WordPress. It's a "Premium theme" in all but name — because it's FREE to download. Even if you choose not to invest in Semiologic Pro, the theme will probably give you much more flexibility than you are used to. The Semiologic theme has been a precursor for many things in the WP world — which were then copied, ripped off, reproduced, you name it. Layout picker, skin picker, font picker, skin customizations, custom css, custom php, widget oriented, customization-safe upgrades… It happened here first.

Layout, skin and font pickers

The Semiologic theme allows for 10 different layouts, and two dozen skins at the time of writing this. Available layouts are available from under Appearance / Layout in the admin area. They are:

  • Content, Wide Sidebar that spans two sidebars underneath, and its mirror layout (Wide Sidebar, Content).
  • Sidebar, Content, Sidebar.
  • Sidebar, Wide Content, and its mirror layout.
  • Sidebar, Content, and its mirror layout.
  • Content only (in narrow, wide, and extra wide flavors).

The available skins can be found on the Semiologic Skins site. At the time of writing there are 7 that come in four flavors each. More will be added as we and others create new skins. You can change your skin under Appearance / Skin. Appearance / Skin also contains a default font-picker with no less than 12 options on top of your skin's default.

Header Picker

The Semiologic theme has a header functionality, which allows to upload a header for your site without editing a line of code. To use it, browse Appearance / Header. (The exact width of the header will depend on your layout. You'll find the details under Appearance / Layout.) It also allows to specify a post/page-specific header. In the WP editor, you'll note a meta box called "Post/Page specific header." That is where you'll upload it.

Semiologic Panels

The Semiologic theme is completely widget oriented. Where others say "WP sidebars," we say Panels. Very early on, the Semiologic theme introduced the idea that end-users should manage their template using widgets. In other words, you can change the way your site looks and behaves under Appearance / Widgets. The theme comes with a number of built-in widgets, but most users (and ourselves) find this just isn't enough. Anything that can be inserted in another theme's sidebar can be inserted anywhere in Semiologic: the header, the footer, the various sidebars, before or after your entries, within each entry, you name it. This includes Bookmark Me widgets, Subscribe Me widgets, Recent Widgets, Related Widgets, Nav Menu widgets, Subscription Form widgets, and many more. A large number of WordPress plugins on this site are in fact widgets that were designed, from the onset, to work with this theme. There also is a special panel for 404 errors, which allows to insert much about anything you want in the event a Page Not Found error occurs on your site.

Advanced Templates

The Semiologic theme comes with three advanced templates for static pages: a Sales Letter template, a Mono-Column template, and a Special template. The Special template does absolutely nothing functionally. It was designed to work with the Widget Contexts plugin. The Mono-Column template strips the sidebar(s) from whichever layout you are using (this ensures your header is of the correct size). It was introduced to accommodate for huge Google Maps, images and videos. Thickbox integration through Auto-Thickbox and Mediacaster, however, have rendered this template mostly obsolete. We've kept it around for backward compatibility. The Sales Letter template is the real toy, and is internet marketer's ammunition. Especially when it's combined with the Article Uploader plugin. It outputs a single-column template with a fancy, blue-gradient background, as seen on major internet marketers' sites (blue gradient converts more, or so reveals the Google Analytics plugin).

Custom CSS

For over two years, the Semiologic theme was the only WordPress theme on the internet that allowed one to upgrade his site without worrying about losing his changes to his theme's styles, through the use of a custom.css. Did we mention this theme was a precursor for a number of things? OK… So, you can place a custom.css file in your theme's folder (i.e. sem-reloaded). It allows to override whichever defaults are defined by the theme and your favorite skin. You can also place the file in your skin's folder (i.e. sem-reloaded/skins/[skin-name]) if your changes should be skin-specific. Now, WP recently introduced theme upgrades and… guess what? Yes, that's right. It breaks every custom.css feature in all themes. Except one. At the time of writing, the Semiologic theme is the only theme on the internet that allows to automatically upgrade your theme without losing whichever customizations you did.

Custom CSS Editor

Since 2005 when the original release of the Semiologic theme occurred, we've had a number of requests from users who had no idea of how to do CSS but who nonetheless wanted to customize their theme's look and feel. Our initial reaction was to introduce new skins. But we finally caved in. The Semiologic theme has a Custom CSS editor. This allows, under Appearance / Custom CSS, to edit various font-related styles on a per-area basis. Without knowing the slightest amount of CSS. Whatsoever. You can even preview your changes without affecting the way your site looks to your visitors. Once you're happy with the results, the "Publish" button will create/edit a skin-specific custom.css file. The Custom CSS editor is skin aware in the event you decide, on second thoughts, that another skin is better suited for your site than the one you're currently using.

Custom PHP functionality

This was also a Semiologic theme first. A very very first, in fact. We had introduced it as a means edit the theme's functionality without needing to edit its php files. This was done through the use of special hooks… until we decided that widgets were the way to go. That decision occurred in… 2006. The point here is, the feature is completely obsolete. We've left it around, complete with a custom-sample.php file in the theme's folder (rename it to custom.php), in the event you ever need to insert some for weird tracking scripts. For everything else, though, a php widget or the Script Manager plugin should get the job done.


Bleeding Edge Zip

Legacy Theme's Zip

This is the legacy Semiologic theme, before it got revamped. It's no longer supported, but it is made available here in case old-time users need to it upgrade their site.

Frequently Asked Questions


The Semiologic forum is the best place to report issues. Please note, however, that while community members and I do our best to answer all queries, we're assisting you on a voluntary basis. If you require more dedicated assistance, consider using Semiologic Pro.

Change Log

Version 1.4.1

  • Use more full proof WP version check to alter plugin behavior instead of relying on $wp_version constant.
  • Explicitly call wp_head and wp_footer instead of do_action('wp_head') and do_action('wp_footer')

Version 1.4

  • Fix: Sidebar widget lists with long post/page titles don't overflow widget boundaries
  • 404, Search and Archive pages now set with .entry class for consistency with blog, page, home and single post pages
  • WP Widget customizer compatibility
  • WP 3.9 compat

Version 1.3

  • Page-specific header functionality was creating a bogus empty extra folder (headerNNNN) in the wp-content directory. These folders can simply be removed.
  • Deleting a page-specific now removes the subfolder under /wp-content/header/NNNN.
  • WP 3.8 compat

Version 1.2.1

  • Disabled editor style for now as still too quirky in the presentation

Version 1.2

  • Initial implementation of editor style to match select skin and fonts
  • Compressed presentation of skin and layout pages
  • Added missing required WP css class rules
  • New themes added in version 1.0 and 1.1 are now available as choices in the custom css editor.
  • Added new .main_content and .sidebar_content css class for additional skinning options
  • Use size_format in place of deprecated wp_convert_bytes_to_hr
  • WP 3.6 compat
  • PHP 5.4 compat

Version 1.1

  • Alter css encoding for header image shadow for W3C compliance
  • Fix hardcoded font-family for sitename, h1, h2 and calendar caption
  • Embellished Helvetica font stack
  • Fixed incorrect url being generated for hierarchies with children of children in Pages, Nav-Menus and Silo widgets. url was being generated as parent/grandparent/child
  • Don't show featured image post thumbnail on a single post page
  • Setting a custom background color now fully extends to the top and bottom of the screen. (Top and bottom white stripes are now gone)

Version 1.0.3

  • Fixed shadow bug in header image on some skins I broke in 1.0

Version 1.0.2

  • Added template files aren't being preserved upon updating

Version 1.0.1

  • Fix .entry link overflow wrapping side effect with Firefox

Version 1.0

  • WP 3.5 compatibility
  • Add WP 3.4 theme support
  • Microformat support in the theme
  • Author byline under post/page title
  • Author name now links to author page
  • Author page now support author image and additional css skinning options
  • Post feature image can now be disabled for post entry.
  • PHP code now natively supported in text widgets.
  • Text widgets now allow shortcodes including video embeds
  • Convert to HTML5 HTML Headers
  • Added Helvetica and Lucinda font stacks
  • Added post/page-post_name css class for more specific post/page skinning
  • Theme upgrades now preserve custom skins and added template files
  • W3C HTML and CSS Validation improvements
  • Replace deprecated WP functions
  • Fix .entry link overflow wrapping
  • Fix php lint warnings and errors
  • Fix unknown index warnings

Version 0.9.7

  • Add a unique class to widgets
  • jQuery compat / Nav Menus

Version 0.9.6

  • Header optimizations

Version 0.9.5

  • Fix a bug when dealing with headers

Version 0.9.4

  • WP 3.0.1 compat

Version 0.9.3

  • WP 3.0 compat
  • Integrate WP 3.0 custom background handler

Version 0.9.2

  • Autofix panels when moving in and out of themes
  • Change default menu items: sections in navbar, non-sections in footer
  • Fix the check for a custom letter.css
  • Fix WP's built-in post thumbnail processing (i.e. downsize them automatically)
  • Fix a potential infinite loop

Version 0.9.1

  • Sem Cache 2.0 related tweaks
  • Apply filters to permalinks
  • Fix blog link on search/404 pages
  • Fix thumbnail support (broken by WP API change before releasing)

Version 0.9

  • Switch to 3 inline boxes instead of 4 in wide layouts
  • Skin revamp (30 new skins)
  • WP 2.9 compat
  • WP 2.9 post thumbnails
  • Improved local url identification

Version 0.8

  • Enhanced navigation for archives
  • Enhanced comments: wider text, larger gravatar
  • Enhanced comment form: narrower field captions, place WP-Review Site stuff and Subscribe to Comments above the form rather than below
  • Miscellaneous optimizations and fixes