How to fix Broken Themes: Incomplete, Stylesheet is missing WordPress errors

When installing or updating your WordPress website, sometimes you get may get theme missing or stylesheet is missing errors. This would at times mean that your uploaded theme, wont load as expected when you go to Appearance > Themes  page what you usually get is Broken Themes

The following themes are installed but incomplete. Stylesheet is missing.

Other errors might be experienced as :

  • broken theme stylesheet is missing
  • WordPress theme stylesheet is missing,
  • the package could not be installed the theme is missing the style css stylesheet
  • the following themes are installed but incomplete

With WordPress, Themes usually must have a stylesheet and a template.  This means that you have to ensure that your zipped theme folder has the style.css. Therefore always make sure that your theme or child theme complies with the WordPress codec guidelines below. So we will define both the parent and child themes. According to;

What is a Parent Theme?

A parent theme is a complete theme which includes all of the required WordPress template files and assets for the theme to work. All themes – excluding child themes – are considered parent themes.

What is a Child Theme?

A child theme allows you to change small aspects of your site’s appearance yet still preserve your theme’s look and functionality. To understand how child themes work it is first important to understand the relationship between parent and child themes.

s indicated in the overview, a child theme inherits the look and feel of the parent theme and all of its functions, but can be used to make modifications to any part of the theme. In this way, customizations are kept separate from the parent theme’s files. Using a child theme lets you upgrade the parent theme without affecting the customizations you’ve made to your site.

Child themes:

  • make your modifications portable and replicable;
  • keep customization separate from parent theme functions;
  • allow parent themes to be updated without destroying your modifications;
  • allow you to take advantage of the effort and testing put into parent theme;
  • save on development time since you are not recreating the wheel; and
  • are a great way to start learning about theme development.

Back to solving our missing stylesheet error

Why and When does WordPress style.css missing error occur?

According to the WordPress theme development guideline – Theme development Stylesheet guideline

WordPress Themes must have three main file types, in addition to images, vidos 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.

Summary of reasons why “Theme install failed” error occurs in WordPress

Incorrect theme installation

Your WordPress theme was installed incorrectly or you are trying to upload a folder that is not a zip file or the file ends up in wrong WordPress CPanel directory. Ensure to follow the official theme install guidelines here – Adding New Theme

Misplaced Style.css file

If your WordPress theme is missing a style.css file it won’t work, therefore the style.css file must be placed in the theme folder because without it installation will never work and it will raise the issue “Unable to install theme” in WordPress.

Ensure the Style.css file is in the correct location

Uploading the entire zip file package

Some WordPress themes come with many other files that include; installation guideline, demo content, export files, screenshot, license, and theme zip files.

Therefore the first thing to to is to unzip the main folder and upload only the theme folder.

Non-WordPress Templates or Themes

You may have bought a theme online from sites like ThemeForest and forgot to select the WordPress complian software, so you may end up with a Joomla, HTML, HTML5 or bootstrap theme zip file or any other templates. So ensure it is a WordPress style only ZIP file.

How to fix the “WordPress Theme Stylesheet Is Missing” error

Having listed all our reasons and the resulting type of errors. Here is how to fix the issue

1. Change the theme name back to its original name

On WordPress, go to Appearance > Editor and select your WordPress theme from the top right.
In the styles.css file change the “Theme Name” to “Original name”:

For instance if your theme name is WPChase, make sure that you do not change it, some themes do not allow you to change this unless you have bought the full premium rights.

This means that all errors that include – WordPress theme stylesheet is missing, the following themes are installed but incomplete, the package could not be installed the theme is missing the style css stylesheet are a result is the theme stylesheet not being in the right directory. The resulting error is that your new theme that you are trying to activate or upload will not work properly.

If you are sure that the style.css is correct, the other thing you might need to look into is the newlines in the style.css is properly set.

At times when you have uploaded a file via Filezilla, it will strip off newlines characters in the file, making the whole style.css contents just one line if and when this happens, WordPress CMS will not be able to read property the contents of your style.css thus it will be identified and marked it as incomplete in admin area.

2. Upload theme zip file only,

It is good to always unzip the main folder to ensure it contains only the theme zip file and nothing else then upload this file to your themes folder.

3. Upload or install theme correctly

Sometimes the internet could have problems and you end up with incomplete uploads, therefore Try other ways of uploading the theme zip folder and if one method doesn’t work try another. Here is our guide on uploading themes and plugins.

Simple ways to install paid and free premium WordPress themes in 2020

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