How To Fix ‘WordPress Theme Stylesheet Is Missing’ Error


WordPress Themes contain files that are needed to work to create the design and functionality of a WordPress site/theme. Each theme comes with different layouts, functionalities and what not. WordPress theme mainly deals with the front end layout and styling. You need to install themes before make it to work in your website. Often times, we face different errors such as –  Package could not be installed. The WordPress theme stylesheet is missing, WordPress theme stylesheet missing, theme install failed, broken theme stylesheet is missing, the following themes are installed but incomplete,  stylesheet is missing.

Each of these errors mainly refer back to style.css file. So before troubleshooting the problem. It’s would be wise to know why the problem occurs. That way better to fix the problems than to equip yourself with full knowledge about the errors.

Exactly when WordPress style.css missing error occurs?

According to theme development guideline – Theme development Stylesheet guideline

WordPress Themes typically consist of three main types of files, in addition to images and JavaScript files.

  1. The stylesheet called style.css, which controls the presentation (visual design and layout) of the website pages.
  2. WordPress template files which control the way the site pages generate the information from your WordPress database to be displayed on the site.
  3. The optional functions file (functions.php) as part of the WordPress Theme files.

Any WordPress themes need to have these files properly to function. Errors like – WordPress theme stylesheet is missing, the package could not be installed the theme is missing the style css stylesheet and the following themes are installed but incomplete will directly attribute that the theme stylesheet is not proper place. So the theme you are trying to activate or upload will not work properly.

What is style.css in WordPress?

The style.css is a stylesheet (CSS) file required for every WordPress theme. It controls the presentation (visual design and layout) of the website pages. In order for WordPress to recognize the set of theme template files as a valid theme, the style.css file needs to be located in the root directory of your theme, not a sub-directory.

Here is an example of the header part of style.css –

Theme Name: Twenty Seventeen
Theme URI:
Author: the WordPress team
Author URI:
Description: Twenty Seventeen brings your site to life with immersive featured images and subtle animations. With a focus on business sites, it features multiple sections on the front page as well as widgets, navigation and social menus, a logo, and more. Personalize its asymmetrical grid with a custom color scheme and showcase your multimedia content with post formats. Our default theme for 2017 works great in many languages, for any abilities, and on any device.
Version: 1.0
License: GNU General Public License v2 or later
License URI:
Text Domain: twentyseventeen
Tags: one-column, two-columns, right-sidebar, flexible-header, accessibility-ready, custom-colors, custom-header, custom-menu, custom-logo, editor-style, featured-images, footer-widgets, post-formats, rtl-language-support, sticky-post, theme-options, threaded-comments, translation-ready
This theme, like WordPress, is licensed under the GPL.
Use it to make something cool, have fun, and share what you've learned with others.

Generally, WordPress replies completely for the presentation on the style.css file. Every WordPress theme must have a style.css file that in order to work properly.

wordpress theme stylesheet missing style.css file location in wp theme
In addition to CSS style information for your theme, style.css provides
details about the Theme in the form of comments. The
stylesheet must provide details about the Theme in the form of
comments. No two Themes are allowed to have the same details listed in their comment headers, as this will lead to problems in the Theme selection dialog. If you make your own Theme by copying an existing one, make sure you change this information first.

Pro tip: WordPress have CSS guidelines you should follow – WordPress CSS coding standards

Reasons for “Theme install failed” error in WordPress

It’s best to educate yourself about why the error occurs instead blindly applying fixes. This will help you to troubleshoot more easily and efficiently without being clueless. I listed down all possible reasons for the cause of the Missing the style.css stylesheet error in WordPress. Iterate through them and find the cause for ‘Package could not be installed. The theme is Missing the style.css stylesheet error’ or similar type error –

Reason 1: Incorrect theme installation

You installed your WordPress theme in incorrectly. May be the file you are trying to upload is not a zip file or you are trying to upload the file in the wrong directory all together. You did not stick to the official theme install guidelines here – Adding New Theme

Reason 2: uploading the entire zip file

Chances are the theme zip file you’ve download contains all sort of files like – demo content, export files, screenshot, license, guideline files and theme zip files. Usually theme zip file contain demo data files, PSD files and what not. Without checking, if you upload the entire zip file into WordPress and thinking the theme install would be successful, then you are doing wrong and you will get theme stylesheet missing error.

Reason 3: Non-WordPress Theme

Sometimes, may just may be you forgot to check the file you are uploading and trying to upload anything but a WordPress theme zip file, May be a HTML or any other templates. This would surely result in showing  “Theme is Missing the style.css stylesheet” error in WordPress.

Reason 4: Misplaced Style.css file

As mentioned previously in this article, the style.css file must be placed in the theme folder because without it installation would not work. Many times the beginners misplace this style.css file in the subfolders of the themes folder. This would raise the issue “Unable to install theme” in WordPress.

Reason 5: Assuming plugins as themes

Some complex WordPress plugins provide all the functionalities alike the theme and structure plugin folder with many sub-folder and what not. Many people assume these plugins as themes and upload them to the themes folder. This leads to the rise of Broken theme error in WordPress.

Fixing the “WordPress Theme Stylesheet Is Missing”

Now that you know what causes what type of errors. It’s time to fix them.  Check all the solutions mentioned below to fix WordPress theme stylesheet error –

Solution 1: Upload only the theme zip file

Do not try to upload the zip file, and if you do please double check whether the zip file contains only the theme zip file and nothing else. In case of zip file extract and find the theme file with its name “” file. For example, “” Now upload this file to your themes folder.

Solution 2: Upload or install theme correctly

You can upload theme zip file in different way. If one doesn’t work try the other ways. I’m sure one of them will work.

Method 1: Uploading from dashboard

Step 1: Login to your WordPress admin area.

Step 2: Go to Appearance on your Dashboard.

Step 3: Select Themes option.

wordpress theme stylesheet missing error-solution-theme-install-method

Step 4: Click on Add new button.

wordpress theme stylesheet missing add new theme

Step 5: Select the Upload Theme button.

wordpress theme stylesheet missing upload new theme

Step 6: Click on Choose file button.

style.css missing wordpress error, upload theme

Step 7: Now browse your file and click on Install now.

wordpress theme stylesheet missing, install wp theme

Method 2: Uploading files manually

  1. Login to your WordPress account through FTP.
  2. Open Root directory and find the wp-content folder.
  3. Select the Themes folder and open it.
wordpress theme stylesheet missing, upload theme via cpanel screenshot

4. Now, copy the theme file which you downloaded.
5. Paste those theme files inside newly created theme folder
6. Finally, login to your account and your theme should work

Solution 3: Place the style.css file in the right folder

If the errors are persistent then you should look for the style.css file, Whether it’s in the right place and directory. All make sure to open the style.css and see if has all the information listed in the header of the file as stated previously. If this file is misplaced, WordPress shows the error. So, Always make sure that you file is placed inside the ‘theme’ folder only not any other directory.

Solution 4: Open zip and rezip

As mentioned in this article, You need to unzip the theme file and find the actual theme files. Now zip those theme files and upload only that zip file into your WordPress installation.  This will work well in many cases and resolves the error “Theme install failed.” 

Solution 5: Check for the style.css file

To confirm that the zip file(s) you’ve downloaded file is a theme, unzip the file and check for style.css file. As I said , the WordPress will only recognize a theme if the style.css file exists. So, make sure you have installed the theme after uploading the files to the theme folder.

As you now can understand that there are various ways errors like – style.css missing WordPress , the following themes are installed but incomplete. stylesheet is missing, the package could not be installed the theme is missing the style CSS stylesheet, wp theme stylesheet missing, broken theme stylesheet is missing occurs. I hope you will be able to solve these issues without a sweat. Did I miss any other fixes? Are you following these same tricks to solve these issues? Are still stuck with the same problem? Let me know in the comment, I’ll try my best to help you out.

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