Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some frequently asked questions about Pelican.

What’s the best way to communicate a problem, question, or suggestion?

Please read our feedback guidelines.

How can I help?

There are several ways to help out. First, you can report any Pelican suggestions or problems you might have via IRC or the issue tracker. If submitting an issue report, please first check the existing issue list (both open and closed) in order to avoid submitting a duplicate issue.

If you want to contribute, please fork the git repository, create a new feature branch, make your changes, and issue a pull request. Someone will review your changes as soon as possible. Please refer to the How to Contribute section for more details.

You can also contribute by creating themes and improving the documentation.

Is it mandatory to have a configuration file?

Configuration files are optional and are just an easy way to configure Pelican. For basic operations, it’s possible to specify options while invoking Pelican via the command line. See pelican --help for more information.

Changes to the setting file take no effect

When experimenting with different settings (especially the metadata ones) caching may interfere and the changes may not be visible. In such cases disable caching with LOAD_CONTENT_CACHE = False or use the --ignore-cache command-line switch.

I’m creating my own theme. How do I use Pygments for syntax highlighting?

Pygments adds some classes to the generated content. These classes are used by themes to style code syntax highlighting via CSS. Specifically, you can customize the appearance of your syntax highlighting via the .highlight pre class in your theme’s CSS file. To see how various styles can be used to render Django code, for example, use the style selector drop-down at top-right on the Pygments project demo site.

You can use the following example commands to generate a starting CSS file from a Pygments built-in style (in this case, “monokai”) and then copy the generated CSS file to your new theme:

pygmentize -S monokai -f html -a .highlight > pygment.css
cp pygment.css path/to/theme/static/css/

Don’t forget to import your pygment.css file from your main CSS file.

How do I create my own theme?

Please refer to Creating themes.

I want to use Markdown, but I got an error.

If you try to generate Markdown content without first installing the Markdown library, may see a message that says No valid files found in content. Markdown is not a hard dependency for Pelican, so if you have content in Markdown format, you will need to explicitly install the Markdown library. You can do so by typing the following command, prepending sudo if permissions require it:

pip install markdown

Can I use arbitrary metadata in my templates?

Yes. For example, to include a modified date in a Markdown post, one could include the following at the top of the article:

Modified: 2012-08-08

For reStructuredText, this metadata should of course be prefixed with a colon:

:Modified: 2012-08-08

This metadata can then be accessed in templates such as article.html via:

{% if article.modified %}
Last modified: {{ article.modified }}
{% endif %}

If you want to include metadata in templates outside the article context (e.g., base.html), the if statement should instead be:

{% if article and article.modified %}

How do I assign custom templates on a per-page basis?

It’s as simple as adding an extra line of metadata to any page or article that you want to have its own template. For example, this is how it would be handled for content in reST format:

:template: template_name

For content in Markdown format:

Template: template_name

Then just make sure your theme contains the relevant template file (e.g. template_name.html).

How can I override the generated URL of a specific page or article?

Include url and save_as metadata in any pages or articles that you want to override the generated URL. Here is an example page in reST format:

Override url/save_as page

:url: override/url/
:save_as: override/url/index.html

With this metadata, the page will be written to override/url/index.html and Pelican will use url override/url/ to link to this page.

How can I use a static page as my home page?

The override feature mentioned above can be used to specify a static page as your home page. The following Markdown example could be stored in content/pages/

Title: Welcome to My Site
save_as: index.html

Thank you for visiting. Welcome!

If the original blog index is still wanted, it can then be saved in a different location by setting INDEX_SAVE_AS = 'blog_index.html for the ''index' direct template.

What if I want to disable feed generation?

To disable feed generation, all feed settings should be set to None. All but three feed settings already default to None, so if you want to disable all feed generation, you only need to specify the following settings:


The word None should not be surrounded by quotes. Please note that None and '' are not the same thing.

I’m getting a warning about feeds generated without SITEURL being set properly

RSS and Atom feeds require all URL links to be absolute. In order to properly generate links in Pelican you will need to set SITEURL to the full path of your site.

Feeds are still generated when this warning is displayed, but links within may be malformed and thus the feed may not validate.

My feeds are broken since I upgraded to Pelican 3.x

Starting in 3.0, some of the FEED setting names were changed to more explicitly refer to the Atom feeds they inherently represent (much like the FEED_RSS setting names). Here is an exact list of the renamed settings:


Starting in 3.1, the new feed FEED_ALL_ATOM has been introduced: this feed will aggregate all posts regardless of their language. This setting generates 'feeds/all.atom.xml' by default and FEED_ATOM now defaults to None. The following feed setting has also been renamed:


Older themes that referenced the old setting names may not link properly. In order to rectify this, please update your theme for compatibility by changing the relevant values in your template files. For an example of complete feed headers and usage please check out the simple theme.

Is Pelican only suitable for blogs?

No. Pelican can be easily configured to create and maintain any type of static site. This may require a little customization of your theme and Pelican configuration. For example, if you are building a launch site for your product and do not need tags on your site, you could remove the relevant HTML code from your theme. You can also disable generation of tag-related pages via:


Why does Pelican always write all HTML files even with content caching enabled?

In order to reliably determine whether the HTML output is different before writing it, a large part of the generation environment including the template contexts, imported plugins, etc. would have to be saved and compared, at least in the form of a hash (which would require special handling of unhashable types), because of all the possible combinations of plugins, pagination, etc. which may change in many different ways. This would require a lot more processing time and memory and storage space. Simply writing the files each time is a lot faster and a lot more reliable.

However, this means that the modification time of the files changes every time, so a rsync based upload will transfer them even if their content hasn’t changed. A simple solution is to make rsync use the --checksum option, which will make it compare the file checksums in a much faster way than Pelican would.

When only several specific output files are of interest (e.g. when working on some specific page or the theme templates), the WRITE_SELECTED option may help, see Writing only selected content.

How to process only a subset of all articles?

It is often useful to process only e.g. 10 articles for debugging purposes. This can be achieved by explicitly specifying only the filenames of those articles in ARTICLE_PATHS. A list of such filenames could be found using a command similar to cd content; find -name '*.md' | head -n 10.