Typically in my theme function file I'll require other files to keep things neat.


Now working in a child theme I'd like to do that same. I'm adding custom admin options and it seems impossible to include code. I've echoed out the path to make sure I'm calling the right file and it is calling the proper location but nothing inside that file seems to run. The code runs fine if placed inside the child theme functions file.

  • Can you please post some more of your code to show what you are doing, exactly? Oct 26, 2010 at 6:45

8 Answers 8


Child themes reference parent themes by directory name, and in a normal install all your themes live in wp-content/themes/, so I'd say it's fine to reference those themes by their relative path:

include '../parent-theme/some-file.php';

If that makes you uncomfortable, I observe the following constants in WordPress 3.0.1 with a twentyten child theme called tt-child:

TEMPLATEPATH     /home/adam/public_html/wp3/wp-content/themes/twentyten
STYLESHEETPATH   /home/adam/public_html/wp3/wp-content/themes/tt-child

So you can do the following in your child theme to reference the parent theme directory:

include TEMPLATEPATH . '/some-file.php';
  • The constant STYLESHEETPATH is what I was looking for. Includes work in a child theme if you use that. Oct 26, 2010 at 14:21
  • I'm really surprised that you could even consider using a hard coded path... a theme is not supposed to work only in one environment. I could understand if get_template_directory() didn't exist... but it does exist. I just realised that it is a question from 2010 lol
    – Christian
    Aug 23, 2012 at 19:44
  • The top option did not work for me. I'm not sure why when I certainly had the correct relative path to the parent file. The second option did work for me so thank you.
    – bowlerae
    Jun 10, 2016 at 13:58

In a child theme the proper way is

require_once( get_stylesheet_directory() . '/foo.php');

While in the parent theme you can still use

require_once ( get_template_directory() . '/foo.php' );

get_template_directory() still works in the child theme, sadly target the parent theme directory. In your case it's useful


You definitely do not want to hard code the URL. The proper way of doing so is

require_once( get_stylesheet_directory(). '/my_included_file.php' );

See more info at Wordpress Codex

Now, if your e.g. modifying header.php which has an include you would reference it as follows:

require_once( get_stylesheet_directory() . '/../parenthteme/my_included_file.php' );

Hi @curtismchale:

Don't know if this is it or not, but you need to include quotes around foo.php, like so:


Does that solve your problem?

  • Ha good note. I missed it here but I had it in the child theme. Oct 26, 2010 at 14:15

Use <?php get_template_part( 'name-the-page-here' ); ?>. Without the extension .php


The simplest and the best way to require files in either the theme's functions.php or in plugins development is by using dirname(__FILE__).

In your case just needed this:

require_once dirname(__FILE__)."/foo.php";

If the file you want to require is on another folder, inc for example, you would say this:

require_once dirname(__FILE__)."/inc/foo.php"; 

Hope this will help someone in future.


It is completely possible and normal to do includes in functions.php.

I do it like this in my child theme (php is subdirectory for code):

include 'php/core.php';

If you have issues without apparent reason try enabling debug mode in wp-config.php:

define('WP_DEBUG', true);

There might be relevant errors happening, but not displayed.


I think this is the best way to get your child theme path

<?php $get_my_path = dirname( get_bloginfo('stylesheet_url') ); ?>
<?php require_once( $get_my_path. '/my_included_file.php' ); ?>

Get idea from http://dynamicweblab.com/2013/02/get-template-path-in-wordpress-child-themes/

  • require_once needs a path, not an URL.
    – fuxia
    Mar 19, 2013 at 21:04

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