How to Edit CSS in WordPress? Your Complete Styling Guide

Sometimes, people are looking to create more than just a WordPress website. They want to completely personalize the appearance by modifying the colors, fonts, sizes, layouts, and more. But how do you go about doing that?

Well, WordPress developers edit the CSS and instruct the browsers on how to display the HTML elements. There are three ways to edit CSS in WordPress: through the WordPress Customizer, Stylesheet File, and through the WordPress plugins.

In this blog, we’ll discuss all three of these methods and tell you about the need to edit CSS. But first, let’s see what CSS is.

What is CSS?

CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, is a style sheet language used to style HTML elements. It defines how HTML elements are to be displayed on screen, paper, or in other media. CSS is a cornerstone technology of the World Wide Web, alongside HTML and JavaScript.

Key Features of CSS

  • Selectivity: CSS allows you to select specific HTML elements to apply styles. This is done using selectors, which can be based on element type, class, ID, attribute, or a combination of these.
  • Inheritance: CSS styles are inherited by child elements of a parent element unless they are overridden by more specific styles. This makes it easy to create consistent styles across a large website.
  • Cascading: CSS styles can be applied from multiple sources, such as inline styles in HTML elements, linked stylesheets, and styles defined in the browser’s user agent stylesheet. The browser will apply the most specific style to each element.

Using CSS ensures improved website appearance, separation of concerns, and accessibility. CSS can help improve the SEO of a website by making it easier for search engines to understand the structure and content of the site. That’s why editing CSS is one of the main elements of web design services.

Why Would You Need to Edit CSS in WordPress?

There are so many ways to customize the design of a website or page. But why exactly is CSS one of the prominent approaches?

To Customize the Appearance of Your Website

CSS allows you to tailor the visual elements of your site to match your brand, preferences, and overall vision. By modifying various CSS properties, you can transform the look and feel of your website, creating a unique and engaging online presence.

Here are some specific aspects of the website appearance that can be customized through CSS:

  • Color Palette: You can adjust the colors of text, backgrounds, buttons, links, and other elements to create a cohesive and visually appealing color scheme.
  • Typography: You can customize font families, sizes, weights, and styles to enhance readability and create a consistent typographic hierarchy.
  • Layout and Spacing: Adjust margins, padding, and positioning to create a balanced and visually appealing layout.
  • Button Styles: Customize button colors, sizes, shapes, and hover effects to make them stand out and guide users effectively.
  • Form Styles: Adjust input fields, labels, buttons, and error messages to make forms visually appealing and easy to use.
  • Header and Footer Design: Adjust colors, fonts, layouts, and spacing to ensure these areas are visually appealing and provide easy navigation.

Remember, as you customize your website’s appearance by editing CSS, consider factors like readability, accessibility, and user experience. Aim for a balanced and visually appealing design that enhances the overall user experience and aligns with your website’s purpose.

To Fix the Design Issues

Editing CSS in WordPress can be an effective tool for resolving various design issues that may arise on your website. These issues can range from minor inconsistencies to major layout problems, and CSS provides the flexibility to address them effectively.

Here are some common design issues that you can fix using CSS:

  • Inconsistent Layouts: CSS can be used to adjust margins, padding, and positioning to create a uniform layout.
  • Font Inconsistencies: WordPress experts often use CSS to specify font families, sizes, and styles for different elements, such as headings, body text, and links.
  • Color Contrast Issues: Adjust color values using CSS to meet accessibility guidelines and enhance visual clarity.
  • Form Styling Issues: Style input fields, labels, buttons, and error messages using CSS to create a user-friendly and consistent design.
  • Responsive Design Problems: Use CSS media queries to adjust layouts, fonts, and other properties to ensure a seamless, responsive design experience.
  • Browser Compatibility Issues: There are several browsers for WordPress development. Test your website across different browsers and use CSS resets and vendor prefixes to ensure consistent styling.

Addressing these issues effectively will help you ensure a more consistent design on your WordPress website for a better user experience.

To Add Custom Styles to Your Theme

CSS lets you extend the capabilities of your theme and create a more personalized and unique website by adding custom styles to the WordPress theme. That way, you can enhance the design, functionality, and user experience of your site without modifying the core theme files.

Here are a few ways to add custom styles to your WordPress theme:

  • Creating a Child Theme: A WordPress child theme inherits the functionality and styles of its parent theme. That allows you to safely make customizations without affecting the original theme files. Create a child theme directory and add custom CSS styles to its stylesheet file.
  • Using the WordPress Customizer: The WordPress Customizer provides a user-friendly interface to add custom CSS rules directly from your WordPress admin dashboard. This method is suitable for simple customizations and doesn’t require any coding knowledge.
  • Adding Inline CSS to Specific Elements: You can add inline CSS directly to HTML elements using the style attribute. This method is useful for applying unique styles to specific elements or overriding default styles from the theme.
  • Using CSS Frameworks and Libraries: There are numerous CSS frameworks and libraries available, such as Bootstrap and Foundation, that provide pre-built CSS components and styles. Utilizing these frameworks can save time and effort when creating common design elements.

Test your customizations thoroughly across different browsers and devices to ensure a seamless user experience.

These three reasons show exactly why you need to edit CSS in WordPress to customize your website. If you are confident about the technicalities, the next section is for you. If not, I suggest you consult with a WordPress development agency.

How to Edit CSS in WordPress?

Editing CSS in WordPress allows you to customize the appearance of your website and make it look and feel your best. As you already know, there are three ways to go about this customization. We’ll discuss each of them at length.

Using the WordPress Customizer

The WordPress Customizer is a user-friendly interface that allows you to make changes to your website without having to edit code. It is a great way to make small changes to your website’s appearance, such as changing the colors, fonts, and sizes of your text.

Here’s how you edit CSS using the WordPress Customizer:

  1. Log in to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  2. Go to Appearance → Customize.
  3. Scroll down to the Additional CSS section.
  4. Paste your custom CSS code into the box to modify your website’s design.
  5. Click the Update Custom CSS button.

Your changes will be saved immediately. You can preview your changes by clicking the Preview button at the top of the Customizer. If you are not comfortable editing CSS code, then the Customizer is a great way to make small changes to your website without having to learn a new language.

Using a Child Theme

As you already know, child themes are a safe and effective way to customize the design of the website without affecting the original themes. This principle carries on when you’re trying to edit CSS.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for the same.

Step 1: Create a new directory inside your WordPress theme directory (wp-content/themes) and give it a unique name. This directory will hold the files for your child theme.

Step 2: Inside the child theme directory, create a file named style.css. This file will contain the custom CSS code for your child theme.

Step 3: Open the style.css file and add the following information at the top of the file:

Theme Name: Child Theme Name
Theme URI: Your Theme URI
Description: A child theme for Parent Theme Name
Author: Your Name
Author URI: Your Website URL
Template: Parent Theme Name
Version: 1.0.0

Step 4: To ensure your child theme’s styles are loaded correctly, add the following code to the functions.php file of your child theme:

add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'enqueue_child_theme_styles' );
function enqueue_child_theme_styles() {
    wp_enqueue_style( 'child-theme-style', get_stylesheet_uri(), array( 'parent-theme-style' ), wp_get_theme()->get('Version') );

This code tells WordPress to load your child theme’s stylesheet (style.css) after the parent theme’s stylesheet.

Step 5: Now, you can add your custom CSS code to the style.css file. Any CSS rules you add here will override the corresponding rules in the parent theme.

Step 6: Save the style.css file and activate your child theme from the Appearance → Themes section in your WordPress dashboard.

Once your child theme is activated, your custom CSS code will be applied to your website. You can preview the changes using the WordPress Customizer or by viewing your website in a web browser.

Using a WordPress Plugin

WordPress plugins offer a convenient and user-friendly approach to editing CSS in WordPress without requiring extensive coding knowledge. Installing WordPress plugins offers a variety of features to streamline the CSS editing process. They also make it accessible to both beginners and experienced developers.

Steps for Using a WordPress Plugin for CSS Editing:

  1. Choose the best WordPress plugin offering a way to edit CSS, aligning with your skill level and desired features.
  2. Upload the plugin zip file to your WordPress dashboard and activate it.
  3. Navigate to the plugin’s settings page or dedicated editor interface.
  4. Utilize the plugin’s editor or code input field to add your CSS rules.
  5. Save your CSS modifications and preview the changes using the plugin’s preview feature or your website in a web browser.
  6. Thoroughly test your changes across different browsers and devices to ensure consistent and optimal appearance.

Make sure you begin with minor CSS modifications to familiarize yourself with the plugin’s interface and features. And, always backup your theme files and CSS code before making changes.

That’s how you edit CSS in WordPress. Plugin and Customizer methods are quite straightforward, but the child theme one can be a little tricky. So, if you need help with any one of them, I suggest you consult with a WordPress development company or a dedicated web design company.

Best Practices for Editing CSS in WordPress

Although now you have a grasp of how to edit CSS, there are some practices that will benefit you greatly. They will ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience without any risk of damaging your site’s functionality. 

Start with small changes

Editing CSS without careful planning and testing can lead to unexpected issues and potential downtime for your website. Starting with small changes and thoroughly testing each step is crucial for maintaining a stable and well-functioning website.

Here are a few reasons why you should start small:

  • Reduced Risk of Errors: By making incremental modifications, you minimize the chances of introducing errors that could disrupt your website’s appearance or functionality.
  • Easy Identification of Issues: If any issues arise, you can easily pinpoint the source by isolating the small changes you’ve made.
  • Gradual Adaptation: Gradually introducing CSS changes allows your website to adapt seamlessly, minimizing disruptions for visitors.
  • Enhanced Testing: With smaller changes, you can dedicate more time to thorough testing, ensuring that each modification functions as intended.

By adopting an incremental approach to CSS editing in WordPress, you safeguard your website from potential issues and streamline the modification process and quality.

Test Changes on a Staging Site

A staging site is a replica of your live website that serves as a testing environment. It allows you to implement and test changes without affecting the live site, preventing potential disruptions to your visitors.

Benefits of testing CSS changes on a staging site:

  • Risk Mitigation: Testing on a staging site significantly reduces the risk of introducing errors or breaking your live website.
  • Thorough Testing: Staging sites provide a dedicated environment where you can thoroughly test CSS changes across different devices and browsers.
  • Identifying Compatibility Issues: Potential compatibility issues with plugins, themes, or third-party scripts can be identified and resolved before affecting the live site.
  • Performance Optimization: Optimize CSS performance without impacting the live site’s performance.
  • User Experience Preservation: Maintain a consistent and positive user experience on the live site by ensuring that CSS changes function as intended.

By incorporating staging site testing into your CSS editing workflow, you safeguard your website from potential disruptions. It can also help you optimize the performance and ensure a seamless user experience for your visitors.

Keep a Backup of Your Original CSS

You may already understand the importance of WordPress site backup. Similarly, CSS backups can also be quite significant. While the CSS edits often enhance your website’s design and user experience, the possibility of introducing errors or unintended consequences remains a concern. 

To mitigate these risks and maintain the stability of your website, you need to keep a backup of the original CSS. Here’s how it helps.

  • Undo Mistakes: Backups serve as a safety net, allowing you to revert to a previous version of your CSS code in case of errors or unexpected changes.
  • Preserve Theme Integrity: Backing up your original CSS ensures that the core files of your WordPress theme remain intact, preventing accidental modifications.
  • Streamline Theme Updates: Maintaining backups allows for hassle-free theme updates without the risk of losing your customizations.
  • Peace of Mind: With backups in place, you can proceed with CSS modifications with greater confidence, knowing that you can easily restore your site to a stable state.

Remember, maintaining regular backups of your website, in general, is an essential practice for safeguarding your WordPress website’s integrity and ensuring a seamless user experience. So make sure you do it regularly.

If you need help with any of these practices, I suggest you consult with WordPress website experts. They will provide you with the best guidance on the same.

FAQs on How to Edit CSS in WordPress

Can I edit the CSS of my WordPress theme without affecting the original code?
Yes, you can edit the CSS of your WordPress theme without affecting the original code. This can be done by using a child theme or by using a CSS plugin, which allows you to make changes to your site's CSS without altering the original code.
What is the recommended way to edit CSS in WordPress?
The recommended way to edit CSS in WordPress is by using a child theme or a CSS plugin. This ensures that your changes are not lost when your theme is updated and also allows for easy reverting of any changes if needed.
Is it possible to add custom CSS to a specific element on my WordPress site?
Yes, it is possible to add custom CSS to a specific element on your WordPress site. This can be done by using the element's unique ID or class in your CSS or by using inline CSS within the element's HTML code.
How can I make CSS changes to a specific page on my WordPress site?
To make CSS changes to a specific page on your WordPress site, you can use the page's unique ID or class to target it in your CSS. You can find the page's ID or class by inspecting the page's source code or by using a plugin that allows you to view the page's information.

To Summarize

In WordPress, CSS plays a pivotal role in shaping the visual identity and overall user experience. By tweaking and fine-tuning CSS code, you can transform your website from a plain canvas into a captivating masterpiece, reflecting your unique brand and style.

There are three ways to edit CSS in WordPress. First, it is through the WordPress Customizer, a user-friendly interface for design customization. The second is through the Child Theme. The third is through the WordPress plugins. They can streamline the editing process and offer a user-friendly interface with features like syntax highlighting and code completion.

For further help with CSS editing or other design customizations, talk to our experts today!

Nikita Shah is a technical content writer at WPWeb Infotech known for simplifying complex topics. With expertise in various technical fields, she crafts engaging articles that makes technology easy to understand. Her clear and concise writing style ensures that readers gain valuable insights while enjoying the content.

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