Template or Layout Which is Better? ~ The Blog Doctor.

Template or Layout Which is Better?

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There are many HTML templates for Classic Blogger on the Internet which the newbie blogger comes across while searching for new templates.

Unfortunately these are incompatible with the new Blogger layout templates and will give error when pasted in the template box.

This causes much confusion even for experienced bloggers who are used to switching their blog templates in the blink of an eye. Hence here are some tips and tricks to know the difference between templates and layouts and the pros and cons of choosing either..........

The new Blogger debuted with the layout templates which were designed to introduce dynamic publishing and Labels. These layout templates are in XHTML/XML which is different and less forgiving then HTML. If you have started blogging in the old blogger you are used to Classic templates in HTML. After migrating to the New Blogger you had the choice to upgrade to the new layouts template.


1. No need for republishing. Everything published immediately.

2. Labels can be used to categorize your posts according to keywords.

3. Increased traffic due to use of Labels.

4. One click access to editing widgets.

5. WYSIWYG (GUI) layout interface to arrange/edit your widgets on the PAGE ELEMENTS subtab of Template tab.

6. One click access to Layout/Page element tab from Dashboard.

7. Navigation Links at the bottom of each post.

8. Subscribe to Posts Atom (feeds) link at the bottom.

9. Way of the future as the Web gravitates to XHTML/XML and widgets.


1. Learning Curve to master XHTML/XML.

2. XHTML/XML more strict and spews out more errors than HTML.

3. Data separate from template code.

4. Widgets data not transferred along with widgets code when loading a new layout. After loading a new layout you have to enter widgets content separately.

5. At present not many XHTML/XML layouts are available free but many developers are coming out with new designs. Till then hack into your own layout to customize it.

6. No Previous Posts section. All posts in the Archives widget. Previous Posts section in sidebar can be added as a hack.

7. Many Javascript codes do not work here unless they are XHTML valid.

8. The expanded widget templates code is voluminous and difficult to navigate. This makes it more difficult to add a hack.

9. Difficult to add Adsense code within a post.

10. Many do not like/understand the Subscribe to Posts Atom link at the bottom.

11. Customizing each widget is more difficult. Though there is a Fonts and Colors tab it does not allow you to change colors of everything.

Only those variables described in the 'Variable Declarations' section at the top of the template can be changed. You can manually add more customization but that requires more knowledge of CSS and variables.

12. Cannot be edited in WYSIWYG web editors as it is in XHTML/XML.

13. Cannot be used on ftp blogs as they need to be hosted on Blogger servers.


1. Easier to learn.

2. Easier to change with less errors.

3. Data and template code loads in combination on loading a new template.

4. No need to backup widgets data separately.

5. Many ready made templates available on the Internet.

6. Previous Posts section present in the sidebar.

7. Javascript codes for adding the blings to your blog still work.

8. Adding a template hack is simpler.

9. Easier to add Adsense code within a post.

10. Customizing colors more simpler.

11. Can be edited in WYSIWYG web editors even by those having rudimentary HTML knowhow.


1. Label links need to be added manually to sidebar like other links.

2. Labels below posts are present but cannot be customized.

3. Likely to be phased out in the future but not very soon.

4. Navigation links to Previous Post, Next post and Home have to be added via a hack.

5. Feed links have to be configured manually.

6. Cannot be ported to a Layout without a big headache. You have to load a similar looking layout and then hack it to resemble your old template.


If you create a new blog now it will have the layout template as default. You can know it is the Layout template when you load your blog in a browser and it shows :

1. An Archive widget in the sidebar with drop down arrows.

2. No Previous Posts section in sidebar.

3. Navigation links below the post on post pages.

4. Subscribe to Posts Atom link below the posts.

5. If you are logged in to Blogger you will see your email address in the Navbar at the top and the spanner-screwdriver quickedit icons at the corner of widgets. You will not see the address and editing icons when viewing other people's blogs.

6. When you go to Template----->Edit Html and look at the template code you will see tag at the top in a Layout template and <style type="text/css"> tag in a Classic HTML template. If you cannot see these tags just do a Select All in the Template box and then copy and paste the code in a Notepad file and use Ctrl+F to search for 'skin' or 'text/css'.

7. To check a template in another blog go to View------>Page Source when you are viewing the blog and then if you see the skin tag <style id='page-skin-1' type='text/css'>; then it is a Layout template. If you see <style type="text/css"> then it is a Classic HTML template.

8. After login to Blogger Dashboard if there is a 'Template' link next to your blog title then the blog has a Classic HTML template. If there is a 'Layout' link then it has a Layout template.

9. XHTML/XML layout template files usually have the .xml file extension. When you download your layout template using the Download Full Template link on the Template------>Edit Html page it is saved as a XML file on your PC. Though they can also be in a text file.


If you paste a Classic HTML template into the template box of a blog with Layouts you will get this type of error :

We were unable to preview your template
Please correct the error below, and submit your template again.
Your template could not be parsed as it is not well-formed. Please
make sure all XML elements are closed properly.

See Error Messages in Blogger Templates for more error messages, what they mean and how they can be corrected.

Now that we have seen the pros and cons of each layout or template which do you like the best? Just take the poll at the bottom of my right sidebar. Your vote is important! It may just help to increase the life of the Classic template!


Sister2brother said...

I know its a matter of preference but I prefer the template since I'm so used to putting in my own coding.

I have worked on blogs with both options and I just find the template ones more easier to work with mainly because I can put new code exactly where I want.

Besides with the template you can add content to the entries that you post as opposed to the layout option where you can only put things on the side of your blog.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a really thorough list. I have just recently started blogging and haven't used the classic style, thanks for the "how to tell if you have..." section, I was unsure which I have been using.

Anonymous said...

the difference between templates and layouts comes only with experience that's where you make the transition from an inexperience blogger to pro blogger :)

My take is templates are much easier to work

Kerry "Kez" Hude said...

I only understand Classic templates in HTML. God help me if I ever need to change. Just wondering do you create a new blog and just transfer the information over? Suppose it couldn't be that easy.

Vin said...

Kerry "Kez" Hude,

For complete peace of mind before upgrading to Layouts :

1. Backup Blog using Httrack utility from Httrack.com.

2. Backup Template by copying everything in the Template Code box and saving it in a Notepad file.

No need to create a new blog at all. Also you can easily Interchange between Classic and Layout Templates.

LieWei said...

Great info you have here!

I was wondering if you have the hack to add navigation links to Previous Post, Next post and Home to HTML templates? That is one of the disadvantage of using the older template


Anonymous said...

Followed the advice above for manually inserting label links into my sidebar (for template blog), but the label links don't seem to work at all, but merely show all posts.

Vin said...


You have configured your blog structure differently. It should be :


Then the labels will come correctly linked like :


At present your label links are incorrect :


Blogger label links do not end in a .html

For example this is a label link on my blog :


Observe ther is no .html at the end!!

Anonymous said...


Won;t work this way, my host error says my files must have an extension, so I kept the blog as "elderforestpublishing.com/TOOLS/Flash/product_blog.html" but removed the ".html" from the label, resulting in a label search for "admin" as "elderforestpublishing.com/TOOLS/Flash/product_blog.html/search/labels/admin/"

But this did not fix it for some reason. Really stumpped on this one...

Vin said...


Can you not publish blog to a directory? Check the Blogger Help for ftp publishing.

Your Labels will not work till you get this the correct way.

The Sween! said...

Hi Vin,

I am having problems witht the layout of my blog www.thetrialstribulationsofsweeney.blogspot.com, I keep on getting "undefined" in the space where the date/time should be. I think I have a problem with my XHTML but don't really understand it. Any chance you can help?

Vin said...

The Sween!,

The template you had before this used Javascript code to show the date :

<script type='text/javascript'>
var timestamp = "07:56";
if (timestamp != '') {
var timesplit = timestamp.split(",");
var date_yyyy = timesplit[2];
var timesplit = timesplit[1].split(" ");
var date_dd = timesplit[2];
var date_mmm = timesplit[1].substring(0, 3);
<div class='date'>
<span><script type='text/javascript'>document.write(date_mmm);</script></span>
<script type='text/javascript'>document.write(date_dd);</script>

In the expanded widget template replace above code with :

<b:if cond='data:post.dateHeader'>
<h2 class='date-header'><data:post.dateHeader/></h2>

JobSG said...

Hi VIn can you teach me how to put pagination links (older posts/newer posts) on a old classic template.

Vin said...


Why not upgrade to Layouts template to get them automatically?


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