Fastest Custom Hugo Setup, Copying An Empty Theme

Hugo is perfect for building extremely customized static HTML websites. If you’re learning or want to skip using a theme for any reason: here’s a trick to quickly create the files every Hugo site uses, and a quick explanation of how to use them.

Roller Coaster Underneath a Sign That Reads Turbo
Hugo Turbo Mode

Where Are The Layout Files?

To make basic layout files and a new site, try this:

hugo new site project
cd project
hugo new theme temp
cp -r themes/temp/layouts/* layouts/
rm -rf themes/temp

These commands will create all the layout files you need to get started. For now, the only file that’s not empty is the _default/baseof.html. The final result is on GitHub.

Hooking Into Your Baseof Layout

Tell your pages to wrap themselves in the baseof.html layout with this code.

{{- define "main" }}
{{- end }}

You’ll add this to any layout that builds a page for your site. For now, that’s the index.html (your homepage), the _default/list.html (summary pages), and _default/single.html (single pages).

Filling Out The Homepage

To get something on your homepage, open layouts/index.html and fill in this HTML.

{{- define "main" }}
    <div>{{ .Title }}</div>
    <div>We're Home!</div>
    <div>{{ .Content }}</div>
{{- end }}

You sprinkle in Go using the {{}} double curly braces, and write HTML for the rest. To add homepage content run: hugo new This command will generate a content file using the templates in the archetypes folder. For now it’s pulling from Look at content/ file that was generated to add a title and some text.

title: "My Homepage Title"
date: 2021-10-12T10:15:20-06:00
draft: true
My Homepage Content!

With the default archetype, everything is generated as a draft. To see this content, you can either delete the draft parameter, or run your server with the draft flag: hugo server -D. For the homepage, you can probably delete the draft and date parameters.

Other Kinds Of Pages

The process for filling in other kinds of pages is similar. Make a template, then add content.

Single Page Templates

For a single page, add HTML to the layouts/default/single.html file:

{{- define "main" }}
    <div>{{ .Title }}</div>
    <div>It's a single page!</div>
    <div>{{ .Content }}</div>
{{- end }}

Single Page Content

Make a single posts entry by running hugo new posts/, then add a bit of content to content/posts/

title: "First"
date: 2021-11-12T11:10:34-06:00
My First Post!

You can see this page by going to localhost:1313/posts/first

List Page Templates

List pages are a little more complicated. They display information from other pages stored in the Hugo framework. You’ll normally use Go code to make list pages useful. Edit the layouts/_default/list.html file. There you’ll [range]( over pages, display their title and link to them.

{{- define "main" }}
    <div>{{ .Title }}</div>
    <div>List Page Content:</div>
    {{ range .Pages }}
        <a href="{{.Permalink}}">
    {{ end }}
{{- end }}

In Hugo, the file structure of your content builds your routes, so this page already exists because the posts directory exists. Visit it at localhost:1313/posts. If you wanted to include some custom content on this list page, you’d add an file to the content directory with this command: hugo new posts/, then edit the content file at content/posts/ The most common way of adding list pages is creating a or _index.html content file.

Checking Your Work

At any time, you can run hugo server and check the progress by opening localhost:1313 in your browser. If you don’t see anything:

Jump Started Hugo Skeleton

With the hugo new theme command, you get a homepage, list pages, and single page layouts. You also get partials for a solid HTML skeleton, and a 404 page. You can read about using the generated partials here. It’s a great start for any site, especially if you want to build something custom.