WordPress Page Templates in Plugins

This used to be a tricky problem to solve involving ‘fooling’ WordPress into loading the right template from its cache etc. However, for about 12 months now – since 4.7 – it’s relatively trivial to load a WordPress page template from a plugin. Here’s how:


 * Add the Page Template to the dropdown in the Edit Screen.
 * @param array $templates The current list of page templates
 * @return array Modified list of page templates
function theme_page_templates__register_page_template( $templates ) {

    $templates['your-custom-template'] = 'YOUR CUSTOM TEMPLATE';

    return $templates;

}// end theme_page_templates__register_page_template()

add_filter( 'theme_page_templates', 'theme_page_templates__register_page_template' );

 * When the user has selected our custom page template, ensure WordPress
 * loads it from the correct location here in the plugin.
 * @param string $template path to current template being requested
 * @return string path to template
function page_template__load_page_template_when_required( $template ) {

    // Determine if this is our template being requested
    $post          = get_post();
    $page_template = get_post_meta( $post->ID, '_wp_page_template', true );

    // Bail if this isn't our template being requested
    if ( 'your-custom-template' !== basename( $page_template ) ) {
        return $template;

    // OK, our template is being asked for. Let's load it from here in the plugin.
    $dir      = plugin_dir_path( __FILE__ );
    $template = $dir . '/templates/your-custom-template';

    return $template;

}// end page_template__load_page_template_when_required()

add_filter( 'page_template', 'page_template__load_page_template_when_required' );

The first filter – ‘theme_page_templates’ adds the template to the dropdown in the edit screen. The second – ‘page_template’ – picks up when WordPress is deciding which template to show on the front-end.

Simple, yet pretty powerful, stuff.