Setting Up This Hugo Site

Nathan Bibb

April 4, 2020

When setting up this Hugo site, I found that most of the documentation was either very high-level (“Quick Start”) or very in-depth (Full Specs). There wasn’t much of a middle ground, giving a step-by-step process of both setting up a minimal site, and doing some basic configuration,

While it was easy enough to figure out, I thought it might be helpful to someone if I detailed the steps I took to do the following:

  1. Setting up the Initial Site
  2. Tweak the Theme (things like colors)
  3. Adjust the Theme Layout (things like the footer and lists)

Below, I’m providing links to the Hugo Quick Start that I used as I set up, and noting where I made changes to the steps in that guide. Also, I am using the Pulp theme rather than the theme suggested in the Quick Start.

Setting up the Initial Site

Install and Creating a New Site

  1. Step 1: Install Hugo

I use Fedora as my Desktop OS, and I do not use Homebrew, so I followed the instructions to Install Hugo from Tarball. Worked well for me. That guide suggested installing at ~/bin, but I prefer to keep my local executables at ~/.local/bin to avoid home directory clutter.

  1. Step 2: Create a New Site

Use as directed - hugo new site quickstart.

Adding a Theme

  1. Step 3: Add a Theme

I followed each part of this step except for the last piece. I used the Pulp theme, and as directed by the guide, I downloaded the theme from Github and added it to my site’s theme directory:

cd quickstart
git init
git submodule add themes/pulp

See the note on the Quick Start for non-git users. I recently moved from Subversion to Git, so I was good to go here.

After this, I diverged a bit from the Quick Start Guide. Instead of adding the theme to the site configuration as suggested in the Quick Start:

echo 'theme = "pulp"' >> config.toml

…I copied the config file from the theme’s exampleSite directory:

cp themes/pulp/exampleSite/config.toml .

I found there were settings in the Theme’s config file that I needed, and there was no need to copy them to Hugo’s default config file. The default theme for the Quick Start, Ananke, is structured the same way, so you should probably do this regardless of the theme you use.

Adding Content and Starting the Server

  1. Step 4: Add Some Content

When adding content, you preface the content file with a category. This is really just the directory the content will be in. The category expected by the default theme was posts, but Pulp expects a category of blog, so my first new content command looked like this:

hugo new blog/

Now, in a text editor, put something in the new file created at quickstart/content/blog/ Put your content at the bottom of the file, so it looks something like this:

title: "My First Post"
date: 2020-04-04T18:32:47-04:00
draft: true
This is my own freshly created content!
  1. Step 5: Start the Hugo server

Now, you can start your Hugo server and see your cool new site:

hugo server -D

The -D is for “Drafts”.

If you point your browser to http://localhost:1313/, you should see something similar to this: Quick Start Step 5 with Pulp Theme

Click on the icon to the left that looks like a book, and you should see: Quick Start Step 5 with Pulp Theme - Blogs

Then click on your new post link, and you should see it: Quick Start Step 5 with Pulp Theme - First Post

Tweak the Theme

  1. Step 6: Customize the Theme

With Step 6, I made major deviations from the Quick Start. The Quick Start really is just enough to barely get you going here. There is a lot more to do to get to having your own site configured.

Basic Customization

You will first need to change the following lines in your config.toml file to reflect your specific site:

baseurl = ""
title = "Site Title"

Also, in the params section, you should change these values:

    author = "Your Name"
    avatar = "avatar.jpg"
    favicon = "favicon.ico"
    description = """
        Please write anything here.
        Profiles, backgrounds, favorite things etc.
    publicationYear = "2019"

Custom Images

Don’t change avatar or favicon - the Pulp theme page has instructions for where to put your images for both of these, namely:

Your site should now look something like this (with your custom test): Quick Start Step 6 with Pulp Theme

Create the Menu

The Pulp theme provides icons from Font Awesome, so you can change each of these menu items to point to the URL to your Twitter, Github, and/or Email links, and add others as well. Just update or copy/paste this block in config.toml:

    identifier = "github"
    # name = "GitHub"
    pre = "<i class='fab fa-github fa-lg'></i>"
    url = ""
    weight = 30

If you uncomment the name attribute, it will display a written name in addition to the icon.

Custom Site Colors

Basically, anything in your theme directory can be put in your main site directory structure, and it will override your theme. The theme styles are located in themes/pulp/assets/css. So you COULD copy all the stylesheets from this directory to assets/css (creating directories as needed), and your site will use those files.

However, a better way to do this will be to override JUST the parts you want. That way, if the style is updated later, you’ll get the benefit of those updates while keeping the changes you made. To do this, you will need to do the following:

  1. Create a file called static\css\custom.css. Put your custom styles here
  2. Uncomment the line # custom_css = ["/css/custom.css"] in your config.toml

If you know how to adjust colors in CSS, you can set up your custom.css to provide the colors you want. I don’t think there is an easier way to do this.

For instance, the custom.css I used for this site (based on the Solarized color palette) looks like this:

/* style.css overrides */

body {
  background-color: #073642;
  color: #93a1a1;

a:link {
  color: #93a1a1;

a:visited {
  color: #93a1a1;

a:hover {
  color: #eee8d5;

a:active {
  color: #eee8d5;

#searchBox #searchBoxInput {
  color: #93a1a1;
  border: solid 1px #93a1a1;

#searchBox #searchBoxInput::placeholder {
  color: #eee8d5;

#searchResults {
  border: solid 1px #eee8d5;

#searchResults mark {
  background-color: #268bd2;

#tags li a {
  background-color: #073642;

#contentsList hr.separator {
  border: solid 1px #fdf6e3;

/* markdown.css overrides */

#contentBody hr {
  border-bottom: 1px solid #fdf6e3;

#contentBody blockquote {
  color: #586e75;
  border-left: 0.25em solid #fdf6e3;

#contentBody table th,
#contentBody table td {
  border: 1px solid #fdf6e3;
  background-color: #586e75;

#contentBody img {
  background-color: #586e75;

#contentBody code {
  background-color: #002b36;

#contentBody .highlight pre,
#contentBody pre {
  background-color: #002b36;

Adjust the Theme Layout

There were a couple of other things I wanted to change on my site that were more than just colors:

  1. I wanted to change how the Footer was displayed.
  2. I wanted to change the “blogs” screen to have some text.

I discovered that the footer of the Pulp theme was defined using what are called Partials. These are defined for this theme in themes/pulp/layouts/partials.

To change this, I copied the file I wanted to change, footer.html, to the same directory outside the theme directory - layouts/partials/footer.html. Then I added this line to the file:

  &copy; {{ .Site.Params.publicationYear }} {{ .Site.Params.Author }}.
  Powered by <a href="">Hugo</a>
  using the <a href="">pulp</a> theme.
  <p>Another line that I added...</p>
{{- range .Site.Params.custom_js -}}
<script src="{{ . }}"></script>
{{ end }}

Change the “List” Default

This one took me a while to figure out. I finally found what I needed buried in the List Template page in the Hugo Documentation. Here’s what I did - you can read up in the docs to get the details on why this worked:

  1. I created a new content/blog/ file.
hugo new blog/
  1. In this file, I added the text I wanted to display on the main page of the blog.
title: "Blog"
date: 2020-04-04T23:29:35-04:00
draft: true
Here is the content I want on my blog main page...
  1. To get this to display, I had to change the list.html default layout. I copied themes/pulp/layouts/_default/list.html to layouts/_default/list.html, and updated the copied file to add the {{.Content}} Shortcode
{{ define "main"}}
  <h1>{{ .Title }}</h1>
  {{ partial "header.html" . }}
  <!-- search box -->
  <div id="searchBox">
    <input type="text" id="searchBoxInput" placeholder="Search..." />
    <img id="searchBoxIcon" src="{{ .Site.BaseURL }}/img/search.png" />

Now with all these changes, your blog page should look something like this: Quick Start Step 6 with Pulp Theme - Final

Addendum: Building the Static Pages and Deploy

  1. Step 7: Build static pages

Once all of this is done, you are ready to build your static page.

The last piece I did here was to configure hugo deploy to deploy directly to my Google Cloud Storage bucket. I’m pretty sure I just followed the Hugo Deploy Documentation for that piece.