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I am starting to use Sharepoint 2007 again and I was wondering if there's anything I should know when it comes to creating custom themes.

For example, are there things I should definitely not do?

I notice that things built with Sharepoint have a definite "look", I assume this is because Sharepoint is hard to style.

Is it better to use a tool like Sharepoint Designer or should I go with Visual Studio?

I don't have much of a .NET background but I know some basic C and I am fairly comfortable with web-standards CSS + HTML...

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In 2007, instead of creating "themes" which are selectable in the Site Settings, what we've tended to do is to create a "Feature" (usually in Visual Studio) which contains a customised masterpage (with the page elements arranged in the desired way) along with CSS files which apply our look and feel.

This process is referred to as "Branding SharePoint" in the SharePoint world.

To get you started, have a look around Heather Solomon's site: http://www.heathersolomon.com/blog/ which should be the first port of call for anyone wishing to "Brand" SharePoint. Here she has sample, basic masterpages for you to cutomise, as well as a full reference of what CSS elements you need to customise in order to change the look of the page elements.

This method is one of many, but gives you far more flexibility than simply creating custom SharePoint Themes (which only let you change colours and fonts), as you have the ability to customise the masterpage and change the actual layout of the page.

If, however, you are indeed only interested in change the colours & fonts (and not fussed about changing the layout) then here's a blog post about creating custom themes: http://vspug.com/tigirry/2007/07/03/custom-site-theme-for-sharepoint-2007-moss-2007-and-wss-3-0/

This might a good start to getting familiar with the CSS elements, but there's so much more power available once you have command of the masterpage, as shown with this nice, little example (no, I didn't do it!): http://www.ferrari.com/English/Pages/Home.aspx :)

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Thanks! This is great. –  taaazz Jan 16 '11 at 2:36
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