Is there a way to have all subsites inherit a custom master page/css styling from a site collection location? The inherited master page / css will be placed at the site collection level but won't be used by the site collection - they're only intended to be used by subsites.

The intent is to have all subsequent changes to either apply to all subsites within the collection.

1 Answer 1


You can resetting the master page for all sites within the site collection:

(requires publishing feature enabled)

  1. Site Settings
  2. Master Page (under Look & Feel)
  3. Select the master page for both Site and System and check "Reset all subsites..."
  4. Save

Now that all sites are using your custom master page, you can do the following to set the master page only for the root site of the site collection:

  1. Open SharePoint Designer on the root site
  2. Go to _catalogs\masterpage
  3. Right click the master page desired for the root site
  4. Set as Default & then Set as Custom

You have to do this last step through SPDesigner, otherwise the subsites will have their master page updated.

I haven't tested in depth, but it appears to behave as requested.

  • Pardon me. I didn't inform you that this didn't work. When the site collection master page was updated in designer, it cascades down to all subsites.
    – Oxossi
    Jul 17, 2015 at 13:05
  • I can do this by applying seattle.master to all sites, and then setting my custom master with designer just for the root. alternativelly you can run a simple powershell script to update all sub webs master page. Jul 17, 2015 at 13:18

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