Theming and Customizing Appearance

After installing CKAN, the next step is probably to re-theme the site with your own logo, site name, and CSS.

Site Name and Description

You can change the name and logo of the site by setting options in the CKAN config file.

This is the file called std.ini that you first encountered in Create an Admin User. It is usually located at /etc/ckan/std/std.ini.

Open this file, and change the following options:

ckan.site_title = My CKAN Site
ckan.site_description = The easy way to get, use and share data

After you’ve edited these options, restart Apache:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Refresh your home page (clearing the cache if necessary) and you should see your new title and description.

Adding CSS, Javascript and other HTML using Config Options

CKAN provides two config options that allow you to add material directly into templates:

ckan.template_head_end = ...
ckan.template_footer_end = ...

The first of these allows you to specify content that will be inserted just before </head> tag while the second allows you to insert content just before the </body>. You can use html in both of these as well as provide multiline values by indenting lines.

Adding CSS

For example, by referencing an external CSS stylesheet:

ckan.template_head_end = <link rel="stylesheet" href="" type="text/css">


This requires you have a css file uploaded elsewhere. You may want your css to be part of your CKAN site. CKAN provides an easy way to do this – see extra_public_paths below.

Alternatively you can provide CSS directly in a style tag (note how we indent lines to provide a multiline value to a config option):

ckan.template_head_end = <style type="text/css">
    body {
      font-size: xlarge;

Adding Javascript

You could also use this config option to add script tags (or any other material to the <head> of all site pages).

However, for javascript it is probably better to use the ckan.template_footer_end option as it adds material just before the closing </body> tag – in CKAN v1.5 scripts are included at the foot of the page rather than in the <head> section (thus if your scripts requires jquery it needs to come after jqurey is included at the bottom of the page and hence you should use the footer end option).

More Advanced Customization

If you want to make broader changes to the look and feel of your CKAN site, we offer ways to add custom CSS and over-ride the default CKAN templates.

Adding (and Overriding) Files and Templates

You can add (and override) files (e.g. CSS, scripts and images) as well as templates to your site using the extra_template_paths and extra_public_paths options in the CKAN config file:

extra_template_paths = %(here)s/my-templates
extra_public_paths = %(here)s/my-public

All contents of the public directory is mounted directly into the URL space of the site (taking precedence over existing files of the same name).

Furthermore, you can supply multiple public directories, which will be searched in order.

For example, if you set the following option in the CKAN config file:

extra_public_paths = /path/to/mypublicdir

And then add a file called myhtmlfile.html in /path/to/mypublicdir, the file would appear on at

If you create a file with the same path as one in the main CKAN public directory, your file will override the default CKAN file. For example, if you add mypublicdir/css/ckan.css, then will be your file.

Adding a New Stylesheet

Lots of visual changes can be made simply by changing the stylesheet. We’ve already

The easiest way to override the default CKAN style is to create one or more custom CSS files and load them in the layout.html template.

Use the ‘public’ directory as described in the previous section, then add a new file at mypublicdir/css/mycss.css.

Your next step is to have that css file including by the templates.

Next, copy the layout.html template and add a reference to the new CSS file. Here is an example of the edited layout.html template:

<html xmlns=""
  <head py:match="head">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="${h.url_for('/css/mycss.css')}" />
  <xi:include href="layout_base.html" />

Retheming the Site with Templates

Template files are used as source templates for rendered pages on the site. These templates are just an HTML page but with variables, such as the page title set by each page: ${page_title}.

To over-ride a template, set the extra_template_paths directory as described above, then copy and rewrite the template file you wish to over-ride.

Commonly modified templates are:

  • layout.html - empty by default
  • home/index.html - the home page of the site
  • home/about.html - the about page

If you are re-theming the site, we recommend you over-ride layout.html, which is empty but inherits from layout_base.html. This will mean you can upgrade the site more easily in the future.


For more information on the syntax of the CKAN templates, refer to the Genshi documentation.