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Installation & Setup: Getting Started with Hemlock

Please note: This FAQ Article is specifically for the Hemlock theme.

Whether you're brand new to WordPress or would just like a quick lesson on basic Hemlock theme features, you're in the right place! Below, we'll go through a number of how-tos regarding standard theme functions, from installing the theme to setting up your sidebar.

To skip directly to a specific section in the article, please use this index:


So you've purchased Hemlock & you're ready to get started-- great!

When you purchase a Hemlock license from ThemeForest & download the theme package, you will receive a zipped folder titled "themeforest-8253073-hemlock-a-responsive-wordpress-blog-theme".
Unzip this first folder.

Within the unzipped theme package, you will find a number of folders such as demo content, logo image files, etc. There will be 1 zipped folder within, titled "".

Important: DO NOT unzip this folder! This "" folder should remain zipped.


"" is the main theme.

Within your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Themes.
Click the "Add New" button at the top-left of the page > Click the "Upload Theme" button at the top.
Click "Choose File" > find your zipped "" file > Click the "Install Now" button.


Once the theme is successfully installed on your WordPress, you can "Activate" it via the installation page or via Appearance > Themes to switch over and begin using your Hemlock theme!


Please note: If you try installing the entire zipped theme package or another incorrect file, you'll likely receive this error message:
"The package could not be installed. The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet. Theme install failed."
If you receive this error message, please be sure that you're installing the ZIPPED file titled "".

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Hemlock has the possibility to create 4 different types of posts: standard, gallery, video, and audio.

In order to activate these post options, you'll first want to ensure you've installed & activated the required Vafpress Post Formats UI plugin. This plugin comes included with the theme. 

To install this plugin (among other bundled and recommended plugins), navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Install Plugins

Please remember to activate the plugins once they've been installed. 

To create a post, go to WordPress Dashboard > Posts > Add New


Pre-WP 5.0/Gutenberg update: Above your content box & toolbar, you'll see a series of tabs titled Standard, Gallery, Video, and Audio. Select whichever tab you'd like your post format to be in. Each tab will give you different input boxes depending on the content you'd like to add.

After WP 5.0/Gutenberg update: On the right side of the screen is a sidebar element with various options. Toward the top of this sidebar is the "Post Format" option. Choose your preferred format from the drop-down menu. Scroll down the page to where you'll see a box titled "Post Format Content". Here, you can add images to your Gallery post, an audio file to your Audio post, etc. 

Standard Post

A standard post is the default post type.
You can add text and images to your post using the tools and content box.
Example of a standard post:

Gallery Post

A gallery post allows you to create a slideshow-type gallery at the top of your post. After clicking the "Gallery" tab to choose this post format option, click the "Pick Images" button within the "Gallery Images" box that has appeared. Select whatever images you'd like from your WordPress Media Library.
Example of a gallery post:

Video Post

A video post displays a video at the top of your post. You can share videos from nearly all video hosting sites, such as Vimeo or Youtube. Simply copy & paste the video's URL, oembed code, or embed code into the special input box. When you preview or publish your post, the video will appear.
Example of a video post:

Audio Post

An audio post allows you to share a music or audio track and displays it at the top of the post. Like the video post, simply copy & paste the track's URL, oembed code, or embed code into the special audio input box. When you preview or publish the post, the track will appear.
Example of an audio post:


Once you've determined your post format, entered your title, and added your content, remember to assign at least 1 category to your post. Additionally, also ensure you assign a featured image to the post. Featured Images will represent the post in your site's various thumbnails and when visitors share your post on social media. 


You can set your singular post pages' layout globally via WP Dashboard > Appearance > Customize > General Settings > by checking or un-checking the box option titled "Enable sidebar on posts". 

When you first create a new post, its layout will automatically be set via whether or not you've selected this "Enable sidebar on posts" option or not. 

Additionally, you can change a post's layout on a post-by-post basis. To do so, open the post's edit screen. In the right-hand sidebar element, look for the drop-down titled "Post Attributes". Within is a menu titled "Template".  Choose your desired layout option.



Once you're finished preparing your post, you can click "Preview" to preview how your post will look once published onto your site, click "Publish" to have it appear on your site, or click "Save Draft" to save your post as it is, though not publish it yet.

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A standard, static page is similar to creating a post in many ways, and is ideal for creating an About Me or Contact Me section to your website.

To create a new page, navigate to WP Dashboard > Pages > Add New.
Like a post, you can enter a page title, add content, and assign a featured image. Additionally, you have the option of choosing between a number of layouts:

  • Full-width page layout (default) 
  • Page with sidebar layout
  • Page with sidebar and slider
  • Page with slider

You can select this via the drop-down menu on the right titled "Template".

Once you've published your new page, it will not automatically appear in your main menu. For a tutorial on adding items to your main menu, please check out this FAQ article: How do I set up my navigation menu?

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A category page is a dynamic page that pulls in all of your posts assigned with a particular category. You do not create a category page like you would a standard page (described above)-- a category page is generated by WordPress after you add a category to your main menu.

First, ensure you've assigned the category to at least 1 post. Then, navigate to Appearance > Menus and click the drop-down box heading titled "Categories" on the left of the page. Below, your categories will be listed. Check the box next to your desired category and click "Add to Menu". Be sure to save. When you click on the newly-created menu item, it will take you to that category's page.

For more information on creating a category page, please check out: How do I set up my navigation menu?


Category Pages which display all posts related to a particular category, Tag Pages which display all posts related to a particular tag, Author Pages which display all posts related to a particular author, etc., are called "Archive Pages". To change the page layout of your archive pages, head to Appearance > Customize > General Settings > and choose from the layout options within the "Archive Layout" section.

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Your homepage is the first page visitors will see when they arrive at your website. By default, the homepage will be the page that also displays all of your posts, beginning with the most recent.
We call this feature the "post feed".

Not seeing your post feed on the homepage? Check out: Show post feed on homepage

To customize how your homepage looks, including its layout, colors, enabling/disabling the sidebar, etc., navigate to WordPress Dashboard > Appearance > Customize

Under the various drop-down tabs on the left of this screen, you'll find loads of ways to customize your homepage & website in general. For example, within the "General Settings" tab, you can choose your homepage's post layout and enable/disable the sidebar.

Be sure to explore the various options within this Customizer section. The live preview on the right will show you a preview of how each adjustment will visually affect your site.

If you'd like your homepage to instead be a static page and have your post feed display on another page entirely, please check out our tutorial here: How to create a static homepage & separate blog page.

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Setting up Hemlock's main menu in the top-bar is quite simple! For a walk-through on how to go about it as well as more specific how-to tutorials, please check out: How do I set up my navigation menu?

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Assigning a featured image to your posts is very important, as the featured image is what the theme & other web functions use to visually represent the post in various situations.

For a walk-through on where and how to assign a featured image, please take a
look at: How do I add a Featured Image?

Additionally, even if you don't want the featured image to display at the top of your post, you should still assign a featured image. Once that's done, you can hide the featured image from the top of your post by navigating to Appearance > Customize > Post Settings > And checking the box next to "Hide featured image from top of post"

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First, please ensure you've installed and activated the bundled plugin called "Hemlock Core". You should see a notification banner across the top of your WordPress Dashboard asking you to install required plugins, including this "Hemlock Core" plugin. If you don't see this banner notification right away, you may need to navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance. Once the "Hemlock Core" plugin is activated, the Social Media Settings section will appear within your Customizer. 

Navigate to Appearance > Customize > Social Media Settings

Here, you will see a list of social networks followed by a text input box. If you'd like to have a social icon for a particular social network, you can type in your username for that particular network.
Please note that you do not need to insert your profile's URL into this box unless prompted to do so. Only your related username is required.

Once you enter your username into a particular social network's text box, its icon will appear in your top-bar area and footer social icon area. If you leave a social network's box blank, the social icon will not appear in the top-bar or footer area.

Don't see your desired social network? There are tons of social media sites out there and we're unfortunately not able to include built-in options for all of them in the theme. However, don't fret! We have a tutorial written up on how to add custom icons to your theme here: How do I add social media icons to Hemlock?

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Hemlock's featured area slider is a full-width area toward the top of the homepage where you can feature eye-catching images from your posts. There are a few steps to ensure your slider works perfectly:

  1. First, ensure your posts have featured images assigned. This is the image that the slider will pull in to represent your post. For more information, check out: How do I add a Featured Image?
  2. To have your slide images display in a lovely, uniform size, please make sure your featured images are at least 650x440 pixels in size. If they are larger than this, WordPress can easily resize them to fit nicely. If your featured image is smaller than 650x440 pixels, WP cannot upscale the image and it will display oddly in the slider.
  3. Lastly, navigate to Appearance > Customize > Featured Area Settings > and check the box next to "Enable Featured Slider". Be sure to save. This will enable your slider on your homepage.

If you're certain your images are at least the required 650x440 pixels but are still showing in varying sizes within the slider, we recommend you install & activate the plugin called Regenerate Thumbnails.
Images used in another theme are cropped to fit that theme's image containers. In order to refresh the images to their original sizes and allow Hemlock to re-crop them to fit its own containers nicely, you'll need to run this plugin.


Within Appearance > Customize > Featured Area Settings, you can choose which posts appear in your featured area slider. By default, the slider will display all of your latest posts.

From the drop-down menu titled "Select Featured Category", you can also choose a particular post category to display in your slider.

Additionally, if you prefer to hand-select particular posts from a variety of categories to appear in your slider, we recommend creating a new category titled something like "Featured" which you can assign to your desired posts. To hide this "Featured" category from appearing on your posts with the other categories, check the box next to "Hide Featured Category" within Appearance > Customize > Featured Area Settings.

Interested in having just 1 large slide image instead of 3 slides?
Check out: How to make Hemlock's featured area slider display 1 large image

Or perhaps you'd like to have your slider rotate on a timer?
Check out: How to add a timer to Hemlock's featured area slider

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A sidebar is a vertical content area that displays to the right of your main content/post area. You customize your sidebar by stacking up different widgets that display a variety of things.

To enable/disable the sidebar on your homepage, your posts, and/or your archive pages (category pages, tag pages, etc.) navigate to Appearance > Customize > General Settings. Here, you can check or uncheck the boxes next to "Enable Sidebar on Homepage", "Enable Sidebar on Posts", etc.

To add, remove, or edit your sidebar widgets, navigate to Appearance > Widgets.
On the left, you will see a list of the available widgets to choose from.
On the right, you will see a few different widget areas in the theme.

To add a widget to your sidebar, simply drag & drop a widget on the left into the widget area titled "Sidebar".

First, ensure you've installed/activated the plugin called Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed. Once installed, it will be titled "Smash Balloon Instagram Feed". Then, go to WP Dashboard > Instagram Feed  and click the big blue button to connect your Instagram account.

To add the Instagram widget, navigate to Appearance > Widgets.  Drag a "Custom HTML" widget from the left of this screen into the "Sidebar" widget area. 

Then, copy & paste in the plugin's shortcode:

[instagram-feed num=9 cols=3 showheader=false showbutton=false disablemobile=true]

Save changes.

Once you've dropped a widget into the Sidebar widget area, click on its heading. A drop-down will appear and you can make any necessary adjustments to the widget's settings. From this widget setting drop-down, you can also delete the widget.

To position widgets within the sidebar, drag and drop them above or below each other.

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Hemlock includes a special widget called "Hemlock: Promo Box" to be used in your sidebar or footer widget areas. 

This widget can be given any image, any title, and hyperlink of your choosing as an eye-catching, beautiful way to link to posts, pages, or even external URLs. Insert the promo box widget into your sidebar area as a stand-alone widget, or, stack them high!

To set up your promo box widget, navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets > and drag & drop the "Hemlock: Promo Box" widget into the sidebar area or one of your footer widget areas.

Give the widget a height, link in an image from your WP Media Library, insert a hyperlink, and add a title if you'd like. The widget also allows you to set how much spacing will be applied beneath the widget itself in case you'd like to stack several widgets close together or space them further apart. 

Try stacking multiple promo box widgets with varying heights!

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Hemlock includes custom stylings for the "MailChimp for WordPress" plugin which allows you to display a beautiful newsletter sign-up form. You can insert this form within the sidebar area or within one of your footer widget areas. 

For steps on setting your newsletter form up, please check out this article:  How to setup Hemlock's newsletter widget

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The footer area is the lower portion of the theme that will appear on all pages of your site. It includes:

  • 3 side-by-side footer widget areas
  • Instagram slider area
  • Social icon area
  • Footer logo/text area
  • Copyright text area

Similar to the section above regarding "Setting up your Sidebar", the footer has 3 separate widget areas where you can place widgets. To add a widget, navigate to Appearance > Widgets. On the right, you'll see the theme's different widget areas. This includes 3 widget areas titled "Footer 1", "Footer 2", and "Footer 3".

Drag an available widget from the left of this screen into one of the Footer widget areas.
To edit a widget's settings, click on the widget's heading once it's been placed in a widget area.

Similar to the section above regarding "Setting up your Sidebar", the footer has a widget area titled "Footer Instagram" where you can add in a widget to display your Instagram images in a full-width feed.

First, ensure you've installed/activated the plugin called Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed. Once installed, it will be titled "Smash Balloon Instagram Feed". Then, go to WP Dashboard > Instagram Feed > and click the big blue button to connect your Instagram account.

To add the Instagram widget, navigate to Appearance > Widgets. On the right, you'll see the theme's different widget areas. One of which is the widget area titled "Footer Instagram".

Drag a "Custom HTML" widget from the left of this screen into the "Footer Instagram" widget area. 

Then, copy & paste in the plugin's shortcode:

[instagram-feed num=8 cols=8 imagepadding=0 showheader=false showbutton=false showfollow=false disablemobile=true]

The footer's social icon area is directly connected with Hemlock's top-bar social icon area. To choose which social icons you'd like to appear, enter your username for each social network platform within Appearance > Customize > Social Media Settings.

For more information, please reference the section above titled "Adding Social Icons"

You have the ability to add a smaller logo or image to the footer area as well as some text.
To do so, navigate to Appearance > Customize > Footer Settings. Here, you'll see a variety of options to customize your footer area, including 2 image upload areas for adding a logo image.
On our demo site, we've added a smaller version of Hemlock's logo image.

Additionally, there is a little heading titled "Footer Text". You can enter whatever text you'd like in this area and it will appear below whatever image you insert (if applicable).
On our demo site, we've added text that says: "Made with <3 in Seattle".

At the very bottom of the theme is a bar which features a "Back to Top" button on the right and the option to include copyright or disclaimer text on the left. You are not required to include a copyright or disclaimer statement. In fact, you can type whatever you'd like in this area!

To edit the text in this Copyright Text area, look within
Appearance > Customize > Footer Settings > Footer Copyright Text.

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Setting up your webshop

Hemlock is compatible with the popular WooCommerce plugin. For instructions on how to get your webshop up and running, check out our article here: Setting up your webshop.

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For help troubleshooting issues in Hemlock or to see some fun customization tutorials, check out all of Hemlock's FAQ Articles here!

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