• WPCandy tutorials – WPCandy has many useful tutorials that provide tips on configuring your blog.
  • FLOSS – general how-to manual for WordPress (in TWIKI format)
  • WordPress.org – Here you will find complete documentation for WordPress, including available plug-ins and themes and free downloads. As an open source project, WordPress depends on its community to develop plug-ins and themes, and to document each of these by using its Codex, a collection of blog pages which serve up wiki pages that members of the community can collaborate on.
  • WordPress TV Screencast how-tos created by WordPress developers

WordPress uses plugins to extend the core functionality of sites. There are over ten thousand plugins which have been developed by the WordPress Community.

The Commons provides access to a curated subset of this these plugins. These plugins are installed and ready to be activated. The Commons Plugin Director lets you do a keyword search to find plugin descriptions and urls pointing to more information.

If you know of a plugin which you would like to use, but which is not installed on the Commons, send an email to support@cunycommons.zendesk.com.

How to Activate a Plug-in on a Commons Site

Activating a plugin is a one time operation – on the WordPress Dashboard, click on “Plugins.” Then scroll down until you find a plugin you’d like to try out. Click the checkbox and the “Activate” hyperlink. If you don’t like the plugin or find that it doesn’t do what you want, you can follow the same procedure, by clicking on the “Deactivate” hyperlink.

To find out more about what a plugin does and how to use it, click on “View Plugin Site.”


Themes control the look and feel of your WordPress site.  When you first create a site, you pick a site template and that template controls which theme is automatically activated. No matter what template you choose, you can still change your theme at any time by going to Appearance > Themes.

Thousands of themes have been developed for WordPress, and the Commons provides a small subset of those to choose from. We try to ensure our themes are up to date and look good on all devices, but we also ask that when you select a theme, make sure it is designed to responsively fit your content to smaller displays.

With such a variety, how can you choose the right theme for your site? One way is to simply page through the selections and preview ones that look good. When you are shopping around for themes, there is a preview button available which simulates what you’ll get. If you like it, simply click to activate.

When you go to Appearance > Themes, there is a search box:

All the metadata the theme developer(s) have provided for the theme can filter our themes. Try “two column,” “three columns,” “magazine,” “photo”, “journal”, or “parallax” search terms and see what themes show up.

Another option is to look at other sites on the Commons. If you find one that you really like, scroll down to the bottom and find its name. (If you can’t find its name, go to view source and search for the  “/theme” and you should be able to discover its name.  Then go back to the Appearance > Theme tab and search for that name.

Customization and Personalization

Don’t want your site to look like someone else’s? Some themes offer additional configuration options on the dashboard, including ways to change pictures, logos, and fonts. Each theme offers at least one way to customize it by manually overriding its CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). This “Custom CSS” option is not for everyone, and requires some knowledge of the way CSS is used to “style” HTML. But if you find a theme that you really like, but don’t like the background color or the font, you can use this method to modify it to your liking.

Adding A Theme For Your Site

If you purchase a premium theme and want to use it on your site, please contact us. If the theme doesn’t present any security issues, we can install it for your site only. The same is true of free themes and child themes – we will work with you to validate the theme, and install it for your site only.