How to create and use a Drupal template (tpl) file

Template files are used to overwrite the core Drupal output (or the output of a module that overwrites the core Drupal output).

This can be for example useful if the layout of a particular content type, page, block or view can’t be easily fixed by a stylesheet. With a tpl file you can completely overwrite all output by using HTML/ CSS/ PHP/ Javascript/ …

This can be done by placing tpl.php files inside the theme folder. The naming of the files needs to follow a hierarchy in order for Drupal to pick up exactly which file you’d like to overwrite.

The hierarchy structure is as follows (top overwrites bottom):

For pages:
page-node-edit.tpl.php
page-node-1.tpl.php
page-node.tpl.php
page.tpl.php

For nodes:
node-type.tpl.php
node.tpl.php

For comments:
comment.tpl.php

For blocks:
block-module-delta.tpl.php
block-module.tpl.php
block-region.tpl.php
block.tpl.php

For boxes:
box.tpl.php

Taxonomy:
page-vocabularyname-termname1-termname2.tpl.php
page-vocabularyname-termname1.tpl.php
page-vocabularyname.tpl.php

Some popular examples:
page-front.tpl.php (home page)
page-admin.tpl.php
page-login.tpl.php
search-theme-form.tpl.php (search form)
search-result.tpl.php (search result)

Often a good start after you have created the new file is to copy and paste the content of the template you want to overwrite into your new template. Template files can be found in the following locations:

Drupal core themes: themes
Drupal core modules: modules
Modules: sites/all/modules
Themes: sites/all/themes

For more information see the Drupal.org website: https://drupal.org/theme-guide/6-7

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