A comprehensive list of rejection messages which you should avoid to get your WordPress theme approved quickly in Themeforest
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README.md

README.md

Comprehensive WordPress Theme Approval Checklist for ThemeForest

Alright, here you go.

Prefix everything:

Make sure that your theme functions are prefixed before submitting your theme for review. Prefix should be identical all across your theme, and you can not use multiple prefixes. While prefixing, double check the following rules

  • Function names should be prefixed
  • Image sizes added via add_image_size() function. All image size names should also be prefixed with that same prefix.
  • All global variable names. Add a prefix to all variable names that you declare outside a function scope.

While prefixing, please remember that refixes should consist of either your themename_, authorname_, or frameworkname_

Example

$mythemename_variable = "whatever";
	
function name mythemename_whatever(){
	//your function body goes here
}
	
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'mythemename_setup' );
	
function mythemename_setup(){
	add_image_size("mythemename_single_hero", 1140, 9999);
	//rest
}

Rename your script and css handles:

If you're enqueueing external css and JavaScript files, you need to rename your style and js handlers inside the wp_enqueue_script() function and use meaningful and readable handler names.

Example

function mythemename_enqueue_js_and_css(){
	$admin_js = admin_url("admin-ajax.php");
	wp_enqueue_script( "bootstrap-js", mythemename_get_js_assets_dir()."/bootstrap.js", array("jquery"), null,true );
	wp_enqueue_script( "cookie.js", mythemename_get_js_assets_dir()."/js.cookie.js", array("jquery"), null,true );
	wp_enqueue_script( "modernizer", mythemename_get_js_assets_dir()."/modernizr.custom.js", array("jquery"), null,true );
	wp_enqueue_script( "jquery-slicknav", mythemename_get_js_assets_dir()."/jquery.slicknav.min.js", array("jquery"), null,true );
	wp_enqueue_script( "jquery-owl", mythemename_get_js_assets_dir()."/owl.carousel.min.js", array("jquery"), null,true );
	wp_enqueue_script( "mythemename", mythemename_get_js_assets_dir()."/scripts.js", array("jquery"), "1.0.1", true);
	wp_localize_script("mythemename","mythemename",array("ajaxurl"=>$admin_js));
	
	wp_enqueue_style( "google-fonts", "//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora:400,400i,700,700i|Montserrat:300,400,700", null );
	wp_enqueue_style( "fonts-local", mythemename_get_fonts_assets_dir()."/selima.css", null );
	wp_enqueue_style( "bootstrap-css", mythemename_get_css_assets_dir()."/bootstrap.css", null );
	wp_enqueue_style( "font-awesome", mythemename_get_css_assets_dir()."/font-awesome.css", null );
	wp_enqueue_style( "owltheme", mythemename_get_css_assets_dir()."/owl.theme.default.min.css", null );
	wp_enqueue_style( "owl", mythemename_get_css_assets_dir()."/owl.carousel.min.css", null );
	wp_enqueue_style( "slicknav", mythemename_get_css_assets_dir()."/slicknav.css", null );
	wp_enqueue_style( "mythemename", mythemename_get_css_assets_dir()."/styles.css", null, "1.0.1" );
	wp_enqueue_style( "mythemename-style-responsive", mythemename_get_css_assets_dir()."/style-responsive.css", null );
}
	
add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'mythemename_enqueue_js_and_css' );
	

For details you can check out this documentation by grappler - https://github.com/grappler/wp-standard-handles

Theme preview image size:

According to the WordPress org, the dimension of the "screenshot.png" a.k.a "Theme Preview Image" inside your theme directory should be of 1200px width and 900px height (1200x900). This is required to display the "theme preview image" properly on retina / high-dpi displays.

No Comments:

If there are no comments in your WordPress posts, and you want to inform that to your users in your theme, the string must display as "No Comments".

In one of our submissions, accidentially the trailing "s" was deleted, and the string turned into "No Comment" which resulted a soft rejection :)

No Notices, No Warnings, No Errors:

Zip zilch nada. Make sure that your theme doesn’t raise any PHP errors, notices or warnings. Enabling wp_debug inside your wp-config.php file can help you with this. Please also remove that your theme must not generate any runtime JavaScript errors as well. To deal with this please install the Developer plugin from Automattic. Then turn on "Debug Bar" in the plugin serttings. You can also manually install the Debug Bar plugin for this purpuse.

Example

define('WP_DEBUG', false);

Oh Licneses:

This is a tricky part and has been a long going battle between WordPress and some theme vendors (and marketplaces) because items being sold in the marketplaces are usually not fully GPLed. Part of these items (for example PHP code) is licensed under GPL and the rest is proprietery licenced. Sometime the third party components like Bootstrap and many other JavaScript plugins are licensed under MIT/BSD/Apache and other different licenses available out there. This result a confusion which you must clarify while submitting your theme. You must mention to the reviewer that the theme is Split Licenced. In your theme style.css should mention it too

Example

/*
...
License: Split License
...
*/
	

No direct enqueueing of jQuery:

If you're enqueueing third party JavaScript files or your theme scipt files, which often depends on jQuery, you should define the dependency via dependency param in wp_enqueue_script() function. Don't enqueue jQuery directly or individually, or it will result a soft rejection. Here's an example

Example (Don't do this)

wp_enqueue_script('jquery'); 

Correct Example

wp_enqueue_script( "bootstrap-js", mythemename_get_js_assets_dir()."/bootstrap.js", array("jquery"), null,true );

Once jQuery is definied as a dependency, WordPress will automatically enqueue it from the bundled version of jQuery that ships with WordPress.

Adding Google Font:

Whenever we're addding google font(s), we have to make sure that we are following the best practice. We have to add google font in the following way because most of the fonts doesn't support characters from all the languages.

Example

wp_enqueue_style( 'prefix-google-font', prefix_get_google_font_url() );
function prefix_get_google_font_url() {
	$font_url = '';

	/* Translators: If there are characters in your language that are not
	* supported by Arizonia, translate this to 'off'. Do not translate
	* into your own language.
	*/
	$arizonia = _x( 'on', 'Arizonia font: on or off', 'massive' );

	/* Translators: If there are characters in your language that are not
	* supported by Source Sans Pro, translate this to 'off'. Do not translate
	* into your own language.
	*/
	$source_sans_pro = _x( 'on', 'Source Sans Pro font: on or off', 'massive' );

	if ( 'off' !== $arizonia || 'off' !== $source_sans_pro ) {
		$font_families = array();

		if ( 'off' !== $arizonia ) {
			$font_families[] = 'Arizonia';
		}

		if ( 'off' !== $source_sans_pro ) {
			$font_families[] = 'Source Sans Pro:400,300,400italic,600';
		}

		$query_args = array(
			'family' => urlencode( implode( '|', $font_families ) ),
			'subset' => urlencode( 'latin,latin-ext' ),
		);

		$font_url = add_query_arg( $query_args, '//fonts.googleapis.com/css' );
	}

	return esc_url_raw( $font_url );
}

No inline scripts and styles:

You must use css class names and avoid inline css styles (as style attribue). You must also avoid inline JavaScript code through out your theme. Scripts and styles should not be hardcoded anywhere in your theme or added any other way but with wp_enqueue_* hook and to be added from the functions file. This includes custom JS/CSS. For inline styles use: https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/functions/wp_add_inline_style/ and for scripts https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/functions/wp_add_inline_script/

Escape, Escape & Fucking Escape:

All dynamic data must be correctly escaped for the context where it is rendered. Please perform a global search for echo $ in your theme and take necessary actions. You can read more on properly escaping your code, here - Escaping: Securing Output

While escaping, please also remember to late escape to give a clear picture about your escaped data to the reviewers. For example, check this section - Escaping: Always Escape Late

No fallback for third party services:

I learned about this when we added an instagram gallery in one of our themes. On first installation, when there is no instagram username configured to display, we were using a fallback username to display that user's instagram feed. This behaviour caused soft rejection and we had to remove this fallback username. At the end, if there was no instagram username, we had to hide that section.

https://cdn-pro.dprcdn.net/files/acc_493641/EfuhRm

Watch out for plugin territory:

In one of our themes, we had added a feature called "Featured Posts" where anyone can check the "Feature This Post" checkbox in the post editor window. We had also added a new column in the "All Posts" table which showed a checkmark beside all the post titles that has been featured. Unfortunately this resulted in soft rejection. The reveiwer mentioned that it is a plugin territory code.

So our suggestion is that don't incorporate any code in your theme that changes any default behavior, or look-n-feel in any core panel or component. Write a helper plugin and add those functionalitites in that plugin.

Besides, avoid the following things from your theme and move to your helper plugin.

  • Any call to wp_mail()
  • Registering custom taxonomy
  • Registering custom post type

Bundle your zipped plugin:

When you have a helper plugin that registers CPT (Custom Post Type), custom taxonomies or incorporates other plugin territory functions, you need to zip it and keep inside your theme, and install that plugin from there when someone activates your theme. You can do it using TGMPA plugin activation library. Don't put the plugin file without zipping inside your theme, or it will cause a soft rejection. Please also remember not to keep this plugin in a remote location and install from there cause that will also disqualify your theme from getting approved.

Say, your plugin file name after zipping is "themename-helper-plugin.zip" and you placed inside the "plugin" directory inside your theme. Now you can use TGMPA plugin activation in this way to declare your plugin as a required asset.

add_action( 'tgmpa_register', 'mythemename_register_required_plugins' );

function mythemename_register_required_plugins() {

	$plugins = array(

		array(
			'name'               => 'ThemeName Plugin Name',
			'slug'               => 'themename-helper-plugin',
			'source'             => get_template_directory() . '/plugin/themename-helper-plugin.zip',
			'required'           => true,
			'force_activation'   => false,
			'force_deactivation' => false,
		),

	);

	$config = array(
		'id'           => 'themename',
		'default_path' => '',
		'menu'         => 'tgmpa-install-plugins',
		'has_notices'  => true,
		'dismissable'  => true,
		'dismiss_msg'  => '',
		'is_automatic' => false,
		'message'      => '',
	);

	tgmpa( $plugins, $config );
}

No commented out code:

This one is pretty straight-forward. If your theme contains commented out code or code blocks, you should remove those before submitting your theme for review. Otherwise, they will get back to you with this same message, again and again.

Search form issues:

you cannot simply place your search form markup in your theme because that will cause a rejection. Reveiwers will tell you that you should use the function get_search_form(). So what can you do if you want to modify the search form elements? Do you have to abandon your shiny new search form markup that you designed previously? No! You can still display your own search form using the filter get_search_form. Here is an example

Example

add_filter("get_search_form","mythemename_get_search_form");

function mythemename_get_search_form($form){
	return "<your own search form code>";
}

Post password:

if a post is password protected, you should not display the comment section, or any other information that is related to that post, until the password was entered by the user. This also include the number of comments. Check out this function post_password_required