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Build a Custom “Composed Look” for a SharePoint Online, Office 365 Team Site

SharePoint Online, Office 365, 2013 has been equipped with an entirely new theming engine. Custom themes built for SharePoint Server 2010 won’t work. But the theming engine is, nevertheless, highly flexible.

One method of customizing the look of an out of the box team site is to build a custom “Composed Look”, and apply it to the site. As noted in Themes Overview for SharePoint 2013, A “composed look, or design, is the color palette, font scheme, background image, and master page that determine the look and feel of a site. Design and theme can be used interchangeably to describe the overall look of a site.” The set of “Composed Looks” already available can be accessed from ” . . . the Site Settings page, under Web Designer Galleries, [and then] choose Composed looks.”

Custom font and color sets can be added to the http://your-site-collection/_catalogs/theme/15/ folder. While the syntax of the URL for the settings images can be seen from the Composed Look menu, it is not possible to add images directly from the images folder. So the safest way to add a new, custom Composed Look is by adding a new item to the “Composed Looks” list. Click on “new item”. On the following screen you will provide:

  • Title
  • Name
  • Master Page URL
  • Theme URL
  • Image URL
  • Font Scheme URL
  • Display Order

It is possible to add a description for the Master Page, Theme, Image, and Font Scheme settings. We recommend using these options to add metadata for search purposes.

Another article available on MSDN on this subject, How to: Deploy a custom theme in SharePoint 2013 is worth reading. This article defines “Theme URL” as the web page location of the color palette for one’s custom theme. The image and font sheme are optional components of the new Composed Look. The “Title”, “Name”, “Master Page” and “Display Order” are each mandatory fields. The “Display Order” ” . . . determines where the design appears in the design gallery.”

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved