DEV Community

Cover image for Hugo's content and templates managing

Posted on • Originally published at on

Hugo's content and templates managing

I was planning to rebuild my site and start creating content again but never found the time until now.

I wanted to do my theme from scratch instead of using a predefined theme, so I had to learn how the templating and the content managing is done in Hugo.

Once I did that process, I want to sum up the most important things that I consider you have to know if you wanna do your own theme like I did (this site is the prove of that!).

Content management

First of all let's talk about the content organization in Hugo.

All the content you wanna have in your site have to be inside the content/ directory. You simply put your posts inside content/posts and your description in content/about and Hugo will do the magic for you. Sounds easy right? Continue then.

Hugo has mainly two types of pages, the "unique" and the "multi" ones. The first ones are used for example for an about or for a faq or a contribute or a landing... The second ones are used when you want to group under a same category different content. For example your different publications for your posts or a catalogue for your products. Being said that, there is another difference that you have to know when you create your different pages.

The unique ones have to be named like, the list ones don't. This at the end indicates to Hugo how to manage the content inside the directories and how to generate the URLs to access them. The following schema demonstrates how that works:

└── content
    └── about
    |   └──        (
    ├── posts
    |   ├──   (
    |   └──  (
    |   └── trips
    |       └──  (
    └── faq
        └──        (
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Also there is a possibility to specify the URL using the property slug like slug="my-custom-url".

Templates management

Now you know how to organize your content, it's time to talk about the templates. They are the HTML code that generates the pages of your site. There are a few tricks and tips that I want to share with you like I did with the content on the previous section.

The different templates have to be placed inside the layouts/ directory. On the root must be the main template called index.html used to render the homepage. Same way as the content, the templates can be organized in folders if you want to display in different ways the content depending on the route. Like the content, the templates can be organized between unique and multi. Taking the content organization described before, considering that you want to specify different templates for each content folder, one of the possible template organization can be:

└── layouts
    └── _default_
    |   ├── list.html
    |   └── single.html
    └── posts
        ├── list.html
        └── single.html
        └── trips
            ├── list.html
            └── single.html
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Analyzing in detail, you can see a similar tree like the content but with a particularity that no about and no faq folders but it appeared a _default one. This special folder is used by Hugo to render the pages that doesn't have their own template. On that case the about and the faq, both unique types, will be rendered using the layouts/_default/single.html template. If the trips directory didn't exist, the templates used will be the _default ones.

At this point you know about content organization and template managing, but you are thinking:

How Hugo know when I want to use a single or a list page?

The answer is depending on the URL and the content there. Using again the example above for the content organization, if you notice the about contains a so that indicates Hugo is a "unique" page. As we didn't defined any particular template for that, the one that will be used is the generic _default/single.thml.

On the other hand, inside the posts there are three posts but no one, so that indicates Hugo that it's a "multi" page, so you will use both templates, the list.html one like an "index" of your posts, and the single.html for each post. To render the list.html one you have to go to the URL of the directory ( For the posts ( and ( the template used will be single.html.

Page variables

The Pages have a set of useful variables that are good to know:

  • Title: the title of the post
  • Description: a short/long description of the post
  • Content: the body of the post
  • ReadingTime: the mins that Hugo autocalculates will take to read the post

For accessing to the custom parameters that you can create on each post you should access them by name inside the Params object (Params.yourParam).

You can display a related posts reading the results of the .Site.RegularPages.Related.

See the full list on the documentation page.

The list.html template is used to display a short description of the posts like a book index with the links to the actual post. For doing that, you have to access to the $.Paginator.Pages variable and loop over the results. The variables are the same described above with a one more Permalink, the one you need to use for access the post (and call the single.html template) for that content.

Also there are the PrevInSection and NextInSection variables for paginate the results.

Partial templates

The last tip I want to explain you is that you don't need to repeat all time all the parts of the templates, you can extract the common part in a template and then reuse it anywhere you want. These are the partial templates. Its particularity is you need to place that part inside a partials/ directory and call it like {{ partial "name.html" . }}. They are useful for the header, footer, navbar and other generic parts as well as for a list template that you wanna reuse for your posts and for your trips for example.

I hope it helped you and feel free to comment here or contact me on my social media for any comments, questions or suggestions.

Top comments (0)