How do I use pelican to set up a static site?
You can not select more than 25 topics Topics must start with a letter or number, can include dashes ('-') and can be up to 35 characters long.

4.1 KiB

Getting Started with Pelican

There are a few things you'll need to get started with Pelican:

  • (required) - pelican configuration file
  • (required) content/ - directory containing materials to render into a static site
  • (optional) theme - either a local directory containing a theme, or a system-wide pelican theme

Use the magic-flying-pelican repository as a seed repo for getting started with Pelican.

Basically, copy the contents of the pelican/ directory in magic-flying-pelican into your own repository, and modify the contents for your own static site.

We'll walk through what the pelican/ directory contains and what you need to change to get a simple static site up and running.

How Pelican Works

Let's cover the 101 of how Pelican works.

Pelican takes a pile of HTML, markdown, and other files, and compiles them into a static site. (The advantage of using a static site instead of a dynamic server like Flask or a dynamic language like PHP is speed.)

To do that, it reads configuration settings from, which tell Pelican where to look for the raw files, as well as other settings like the theme to use.

The default location of content is the content/ directory, but more can be added.

The default behavior for Pelican is to serve a blog with a few static pages, but users can define themes that are static pages only (no blog component).

The themes work by providing a set of static files and a set of HTML Jinja templates. Pelican uses the static content and the theme to render the final page.

See pelican-themes repository for themes.

See live gallery of pelican themes.

Repository and Branch Layout

When using Pelican to create a static site on Github Pages, you will need to organize your repository and set up branches as follows.

If you are hosting a project Github Pages site (that is, a Github Pages page for any arbitrary Github project), you should organize your repo as follows:

  • gh-pages branch contains all static content
  • master branch contains the pelican site

Uncommon way: personal page

If you are hosting a personal Github Pages site (a repository under the account @yourusername called, this should be organized as follows:

  • master branch contains all static content
  • source branch contains the pelican/ directory

Clean way: pelican as a separate branch

If you have a large project or you really don't want to clutter your repository branch with Pelican files, you can also set up a three-branch model as follows:

  • master branch contains the source code for your project (no Pelican files)
  • source branch contains the Pelican files for your site
  • gh-pages contains all static content for the Github Pages page

Directory Layout

While Pelican is flexible enough to handle many directory layouts, let's cover a common pattern: putting markdown files into content/.





The pelican directory contains a configuration file, a folder with content content/, and an output directory output/ where the final static files for the site go. (See configuring).

The output/ directory will not be present until you generate site content (see generating).

The output/ directory should be ignored by git. In a later section of this document we will cover a pattern for linking output to a Github Pages site (see workflow: update).