🔗Zola at a Glance

Zola is a static site generator (SSG), similar to Hugo, Pelican, and Jekyll (for a comprehensive list of SSGs, please see Jamstack). It is written in Rust and uses the Tera template engine, which is similar to Jinja2, Django templates, Liquid, and Twig.

Content is written in CommonMark, a strongly defined, highly compatible specification of Markdown. Zola uses pulldown-cmark to parse markdown files. The goal of this library is 100% compliance with the CommonMark spec. It adds a few additional features such as parsing footnotes, Github flavored tables, Github flavored task lists and strikethrough.

SSGs use dynamic templates to transform content into static HTML pages. Static sites are thus very fast and require no databases, making them easy to host. A comparison between static and dynamic sites, such as WordPress, Drupal, and Django, can be found here.

To get a taste of Zola, please see the quick overview below.

🔗First Steps with Zola

Unlike some SSGs, Zola makes no assumptions regarding the structure of your site. In this overview, we'll be making a simple blog site.

🔗Initialize Site

This overview is based on Zola 0.19.1.

Please see the detailed installation instructions for your platform. With Zola installed, let's initialize our site:

$ zola init myblog

You will be asked a few questions.

> What is the URL of your site? (https://example.com):
> Do you want to enable Sass compilation? [Y/n]:
> Do you want to enable syntax highlighting? [y/N]:
> Do you want to build a search index of the content? [y/N]:

For our blog, let's accept the default values (i.e., press Enter for each question). We now have a myblog directory with the following structure:

├── config.toml
├── content
├── sass
├── static
├── templates
└── themes

For reference, by the end of this overview, our myblog directory will have the following structure:

├── config.toml
├── content/
│   └── blog/
│       ├── _index.md
│       ├── first.md
│       └── second.md
├── sass/
├── static/
├── templates/
│   ├── base.html
│   ├── blog-page.html
│   ├── blog.html
│   └── index.html
└── themes/

Change directory into the newly-created myblog directory.


We'll first create some templates to describe the structure of our site.

🔗Home Page Template

Let's make a template for a home page. Create templates/base.html with the following content. This step will make more sense as we move through this overview.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

  <meta charset="utf-8">

  <section class="section">
    <div class="container">
      {% block content %} {% endblock %}


Now, let's create templates/index.html with the following content.

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block content %}
<h1 class="title">
  This is my blog made with Zola.
{% endblock content %}

This tells Zola that index.html extends our base.html file and replaces the block called "content" with the text between the {% block content %} and {% endblock content %} tags.

🔗Blog Template

To create a template for a page that lists all blog posts, create templates/blog.html with the following content.

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block content %}
<h1 class="title">
  {{ section.title }}
  <!-- If you are using pagination, section.pages will be empty.
       You need to use the paginator object -->  
  {% for page in section.pages %}
  <li><a href="{{ page.permalink | safe }}">{{ page.title }}</a></li>
  {% endfor %}
{% endblock content %}

As done by index.html, blog.html extends base.html, but in this template we want to list the blog posts. Here we also see expressions such as {{ section.[...] }} and {{ page.[...] }} which will be replaced with values from our content when zola combines content with this template to render a page. In the list below the header, we loop through all the pages in our section (blog directory; more on this when we create content) and output each page title and URL using {{ page.title }} and {{ page.permalink | safe }}, respectively. We use the | safe filter because the permalink doesn't need to be HTML escaped (escaping would cause / to render as &#x2F;).

🔗Blog Post Template

We have templates describing our home page and a page that lists all blog posts. Let's now create a template for an individual blog post. Create templates/blog-page.html with the following content.

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block content %}
<h1 class="title">
  {{ page.title }}
<p class="subtitle"><strong>{{ page.date }}</strong></p>
{{ page.content | safe }}
{% endblock content %}

Note the | safe filter for {{ page.content }}.

🔗Zola Live Reloading

Now that we've outlined our site's structure, let's start the Zola development server in the myblog directory.

$ zola serve
Building site...
Checking all internal links with anchors.
> Successfully checked 0 internal link(s) with anchors.
-> Creating 0 pages (0 orphan) and 0 sections
Done in 13ms.

Web server is available at

Listening for changes in .../myblog/{config.toml,content,sass,static,templates}
Press Ctrl+C to stop

If you point your web browser to, you will see a message saying, "This is my blog made with Zola."

If you go to, you will currently get a 404 which we will fix next.


We'll now create some content that Zola will use to generate site pages based on our templates.


We'll start by creating content/blog/_index.md. This file tells Zola that blog is a section, which is how content is categorized in Zola. In the _index.md file, we'll set the following variables in TOML format:

title = "List of blog posts"
sort_by = "date"
template = "blog.html"
page_template = "blog-page.html"

Note that although no variables are mandatory, the opening and closing +++ are required.

  • sort_by = "date" tells Zola to use the date to order our section pages (more on pages below).
  • template = "blog.html" tells Zola to use templates/blog.html as the template for listing the Markdown files in this section.
  • page_template = "blog-page.html" tells Zola to use templates/blog-page.html as the template for individual Markdown files.

For a full list of section variables, please see the section documentation.

The value of our title variable here is available to templates such as blog.html as {{ section.title }}.

If you now go to, you will see an empty list of posts.


We'll now create some blog posts. Create content/blog/first.md with the following content.

title = "My first post"
date = 2019-11-27

This is my first blog post.

The title and date will be available to us in the blog-page.html template as {{ page.title }} and {{ page.date }}, respectively. All text below the closing +++ will be available to templates as {{ page.content }}.

If you now go back to our blog list page at, you should see our lonely post. Let's add another. Create content/blog/second.md with the contents:

title = "My second post"
date = 2019-11-28

This is my second blog post.

Back at, our second post shows up on top of the list because it's newer than the first post and we had set sort_by = "date" in our _index.md file.

As a final step, let's modify templates/index.html (our home page) to link to our list of blog posts:

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block content %}
<h1 class="title">
  This is my blog made with Zola.
<p><a href="{{ get_url(path='@/blog/_index.md') }}">Posts</a>.</p>
{% endblock content %}

This has been a quick overview of Zola. You can now dive into the rest of the documentation.