Basic SharePoint branding with themes and CSS

Written By: Knox Cameron -- 5/31/2011 -- join -- contribute -- (3288) comments -- printer friendly version

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Categories: Configurations, Design, Programming and Customizations, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010

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You want to quickly implement SharePoint 2010 as an Intranet solution. You don't need to turn it into a fully customized web site. You don't want to take the time to build and test custom master pages, and you don't want to hire in development resources. But it does need to look like it belongs in your organization, with a corporate color scheme and banner.


SharePoint provides some basic branding capabilities that don't require developers and don't involve customizing master pages. Even if you intend going down that track in future, these capabilities provide a quick and easy starting point.

We're going to look at three levels of basic branding that can be achieved without custom master pages.

Themes are a great way to package up a color scheme and apply it to a site. A site owner or designer can select colors in an easy-to-use interface and apply them to the site without touching underlying technical components like CSS files and master pages. And developers can build master pages and CSS files which are not tied to a particular color scheme.

The next step is to add a custom logo and title to your site. Again, this can easily be achieved through the web user interface.

The final level is to change the banner background through the use of an "Alternate CSS" file. You can also use this where required to make other adjustments to suit your branding.

Of course, if you need to add new content onto all pages, like a footer with copyright information, or you need to make significant changes to page layout, you will need to create custom master pages. But if you can avoid that, then you greatly reduce the risk of causing issues with SharePoint functionality, and therefore reduce the need for extensive testing.

In this tip, we will examine how the colors in a theme are used in SharePoint, and go through the steps to create and apply a theme. We will then look at how to create a custom logo and title and apply it to a site. Finally, we will look at how to use Alternate CSS to apply a custom banner background, and if required modify the appearance of other page elements to suit.

Note that themes and the custom site logo and title are available as part of SharePoint Foundation. However, alternate CSS is only available with SharePoint Server.

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