Introducing remote themes

Some exciting news! GitHub Pages has announced support for loading remote themes from any GitHub-hosted repository. This is also supported on Siteleaf as of today, whether you publish to GitHub or anywhere else.

Remote themes are similar to Gem-based themes, but do not require Gemfile changes or whitelisting. This means you can now use any of the hundreds of community-curated themes available on, or create your own without having to publish a Gem.

Jekyll themes package layouts, includes, and stylesheets in a way that can be overridden by your site’s content. It’s a great way to maintain a separation of content and code, and makes it possible to share themes across multiple sites.

To build your site with any public, GitHub-hosted theme, add the following to your site’s _config.yml file (or Site Settings in Siteleaf):

remote_theme: owner/name

Replacing owner and name with the repository owner’s username and repository name.

You may also optionally specify a branch, tag, or commit to use by appending an @ and the Git ref (e.g., owner/name@v1.0.0 or owner/name@develop). If you don’t specify a Git ref, the master branch will be used.

Your theme repository must be public and hosted on As always, your site repository can remain private.

This is made possible behind the scenes through the new jekyll-remote-theme plugin which is now included by default in GitHub Pages and Siteleaf. If you are using a custom Gemfile, make sure to include this or github-pages (version 172 or higher).

If you’re interested in making your Jekyll theme, check out our tutorial and help docs.

Also special shout out to Jekyll which recently turned 9 years old. Thanks to Tom Preston-Werner and all 732 contributors who make it possible for Jekyll to power millions of websites around the world today. Happy birthday! 🎉