Turning a WordPress Theme Into a Tumblr Theme

by Gissimee Doe

WordPress and Tumblr are two dissimilar blogging platforms aimed at different blogging audiences. However, by using the shorter Tumblr post styles with their distinct audio, video, quote, text and link post types, you can reach a wider section of the Internet audience by maintaining blogs on both platforms. It is possible to have your Tumblr theme closely match your WordPress theme, but you’ll need to create a custom Tumblr blog and must be comfortable with HTML and CSS coding. Alternatively, you can use a WordPress theme that has tumblog elements to get Tumblr functionality.

Theme Conversion

As tempting as it may seem to try to convert your existing WordPress theme to a Tumblr theme, the process is not as simple as just copying and pasting your WordPress code into Tumblr. You’ll have to create a Tumblr base theme and customize the HTML using variables for each category of Tumblr post, host your CSS files externally and edit your Tumblr code to point to these externally hosted files, and tweak the resulting code until it looks like your WordPress theme and functions as a Tumblr blog with a pleasing display.

Theme Customization

WordPress and Tumblr themes are customizable, which gives you wide latitude in having your blog’s theme match your design requirements. To create a custom Tumblr theme to match your WordPress theme, you’ll need to start with your basic HTML shell and insert the appropriate Tumblr variables and blocks. Tumblr variables are used to insert dynamic data into your blog while Tumblr blocks are used to render a set of data such as your posts or conditional HTML elements like navigational links. The complete set of variables and examples of how to use variables and blocks are available in Tumblr’s documentation (see Resources).

Creating the Theme

To create your custom Tumblr theme, first create a Tumblr account if you don’t already have one and create a base blog. Try to find a theme whose layout closely resembles your WordPress theme’s layout, although this isn’t necessary if you’re good at HTML coding. Click the name of your blog in your Tumblr dashboard and click the “Customize Appearance” link. Click “Edit HTML” and modify the existing HTML to include your variables and blocks in a layout matching that of your WordPress theme. Use absolute URLs to point to your images and CSS files, which can point to the same location as those in your WordPress theme.


If you like the functionality and look and feel of Tumblr blogs and want the power and control of a WordPress blog, use a tumblog theme in WordPress instead of creating a custom theme in Tumblr as it’s much easier and won’t require much coding. You can also use a WordPress tumblog plug-in such as WooTumblog to get your WordPress blog to look like a Tumblr blog. If you prefer to customize a Tumblr theme, you can get a Web developer to do the coding if you’re unfamiliar with HTML and CSS.

About the Author

Gissimee Doe has been writing for over 11 years on a range of subjects and interests. Her favorite genres are horror, science fiction, adventure and food. Doe maintains a number of fashion and style blogs and is currently working on her first novel. She holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science and a Master of Science in computer-based management information systems.

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