Customizing SharePoint Master Pages using SharePoint Designer

SharePoint Designer 2010 is a great tool for many tasks which are not possible using only the SharePoint on-site tools. One of the best features of SharePoint Designer is the ability to modify SharePoint master pages. In this post I will cover how to modify SharePoint master pages for some basic purposes such as branding and also change the standard SP 2010 design.

Leave Default Master Pages In Peace

SharePoint 2010 comes with three out-of-box Master Pages  – v4.master (the default SP2010 design), default.master (the old MOSS2007 look) and minimal.master (used in SP2010 Search Center). In this tutorial we will create a new masterpage using the v4.master as a template and then connect the newly created custom Master Page to our site. It is a good idea to leave the default Master Pages untouched (at least for the examples in this post).

First we need to clone the v4.master file. Open SharePoint Designer 2010, and from the Sites tab select the Open Site icon and enter your site URL.

SharePoint Master Pages
SharePoint Designer 2010 – Open Site window

The site root will be opened in SharePoint Designer 2010. Now select Master Pages from the left menu, click on the v4.master file and press CTRL+C and CTRL+V to create a
copy of the .master file.

SharePoint Master Pages
SharePoint Designer 2010 with copy of the v4.master file

Now name your master page – click on the Rename icon in the ribbon and enter your custom name (for example myCustom.master).

Now using the newly created master page we are now ready to make the modifications. Users of your SharePoint site will not notice that we are changing anything, and if you will break something – you will break custom master page, not the one users are seeing.

Create a Custom CSS to Add Branding

Next we need a CSS file which overrides the default core4.css style definitions. To see some changes to our
customizations, we will include the fixed width style for our new master page.

Open SharePoint Designer 2010, select All files from the left menu and then enter the Style library.

To create a new css file, right click on the Style Library and select New > CSS from menu.

SharePoint Master Pages
New CSS file menu in Style Library

Name this file myCustom.css, just to keep the naming schema consistent with our custom Master Page.

Right click the newly created .css file and select the Edit file in Advanced Mode option.

SharePoint Master Pages

SharePoint Designer menu available on the CSS file


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3 Responses to “Customizing SharePoint Master Pages using SharePoint Designer”

  1. Hi thanks. It really helpful to know the basic knowledge of Master page.
    Thank u.

  2. Hi, thank you for this great article !

    I had to enter full site url to see new branding, like this :

    do you know why ?
    Thank u

    • sorry, http text has been deleted.

      so in the href, I had to replace :