Edit Background Primer: Modify HTML Background Properties for Blogs and WordPress Sites

It can be very frustrating to finally find a WordPress Theme that you like and finding out that it does not come with any way(for the CSS neophyte) to alter the Background image or Color of the website.Seeing as I get repeated questions about how to change the Background for a WordPress blog, I decided to write a very short primer on just that.


After this article,anyone should be able to change their Website Background image or color .Naturally,anyone proficient enough with WordPress knows that you can add the following:


To your ‘functions.php’ file and instantly get the WordPress Custom Background Image module,which Twenty-Ten/eleven uses but where’s the fun and learning in that?On top of it,results can not be guaranteed with all themes as it hooks to the BODY element(the usual Background spot)which is not always used the same way(or even visible) on all WordPress themes.I’ll make a write-up on how to hook this Background module to another HTML element soon so to expand the possibilities and achievements of your own themes.


Right let’s start on that Website Background

First we got to determine if your WordPress Theme,like all mine,actually lets you modify the ‘header.php’ file,if not you should check out with your theme support if there’s a custom CSS file that comes with the Child theme.If not, you might be left with the only option but to use the above command or find the right Hook/Filter for your Theme(I know,it sucks).

Step 1 Jump in :

In WordPress;

  1. Go to Appearance>Editor
  2. Check the bottom of the list on the right for ‘style.css’ and click on it
If you find either a blank file or no stylesheet,check up with you theme manufacturer,if not,all is well and we can continue.

Step 2 Relax,it’s only code:

While the amount of CSS code,depending on your WordPress Theme, might be massive,we are only looking to find out one element called BODY.It should be near the topmost part of the file or use the search function in your browser to find it.It will typically look like the following with possibly more or less properties assigned.

 padding: 0;
 min-width: 960px;
 color: #0F1419;
 background-color: #F9FAFB;

You just found the BODY element,now remains to alter it to your heart’s desire.Say you want a red background,just modify the line:

 background-color: #F9FAFB;


background-color: #AA0000;

or in human language check my compilation of CSS Colors list:

background-color: DarkRed;

Click ‘Update File’ in the WordPress Editor and voila.you just made the background red.

Note:If you can’t see a change,make sure the syntax is the same as above,if it’s still not changing,your theme might have an element overlapping the Body element of the website.In this case,you might have to dig a little.Luckily,Google’s Chrome come with an inspector for HTML,CSS,Scripts and more which I use a lot in my WordPress and website debugging.Learning to use it will open new horizons and speed up your searches for classes and identifiers.


This is all nice but what about the background image?

Right,the meat and cheese of websites,images.

Basically it’s the same Property as we used above but with different Values.

background-image: url(images/mybackground.jpg)
background: url(images/mybackground.jpg) repeat-x 5px 0 DarkRed;

This above and without the ‘-image‘ basically tells the browser to:

  1. Display the image as background
  2. Repeat or ‘Tile’ it on the x-axis(left-right)
  3. Move it five(5) pixels right and zero(0) pixels down
  4. and finally add DarkRed as the color behind

Optionally you can omit the color value to get transparency instead or specify it like so:

background: url(images/mybackground.jpg) repeat-x 5px 0 transparent;

That said,now that you can apply the background-color and background-image properties you can start using it on many other HTML tags using classes.So let’s say that in your HTML or WordPress code, there is <div> tag and you added a class named ‘decoration’ to it,like below:

<div class="decoration"></div>

and then,in your style.css file you add:

background: url(images/mybackground.jpg) repeat-x 5px 0 transparent;

This would effectively show the said image where you placed the div tag.Note that you must specify a sufficient height value to show the image.

Hope this helped.



7 Responses to Edit Background Primer: Modify HTML Background Properties for Blogs and WordPress Sites

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Who am I

Hi my name is Stéphane,
I am a Digital Artist,Musician and Wordpress addict.I love creating compelling Wordpress themes that are visually tailored to my client's needs or previous HTML designs.Whether you want a Wordpress Blog to match your existing template or simply want a new custom Wordpress Theme just contact me I am meticulous and I love working with serious people with high requirements.


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