How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

Learn how to add and configure a number of useful widgets on your WordPress sidebar.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your Sidebar SectionIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In this section we will continue configuring other commonly-used sidebar widgets.

Add A Categories Widget

Now that you have set up a text widget containing a help button, let’s configure a widget for Categories.

The Categories widget displays on your sidebar navigation area by default. All you need to do, therefore, is place this widget wherever you want your categories to display by clicking and dragging it on the sidebar widget area …

Categories Widget

(Categories widget)

Practical Tip

your post categories …

WordPress Post Categories Panel

(WordPress Post Categories Screen)

Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on configuring and using WordPress post categories.

Let’s configure the Categories settings for this widget as described below:

  • In Title: type something that your visitors will understand, like “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you have too many categories (this significantly reduces the size of the widget content by displaying all categories inside a drop-down menu). If you plan to publish posts under a few categories only, then leave the Display as dropdown box unchecked. (2)
  • You can leave the default settings for the remaining options, or see the additional notes on configuring the Categories widget below.
  • Click Save when done …

Categories Widget settings

(WordPress Categories widget settings)

Click Visit Site or reload your page to see how the Categories widget will display to your blog readers …

Categories widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar menu)

Practical Tip


  • Change the default Uncategorized post category to something more meaningful.
  • If you use nested categories on your site, you may want to check the Show hierarchy box, otherwise leave this box unticked.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category, enable the Show post counts check box …

Category widget options - Post Count Enabled vs Post Count Disabled

(Category widget options – Post Count Enabled vs Post Count Disabled)

Add Recent Posts To The Blog Sidebar

The Recent Posts widget is normally added to the sidebar navigation menu by default. All you need to do is configure your widget.

Click on its title bar to display the configuration settings …

Recent Posts WordPress widget

(Recent Posts WordPress widget)

There is really not much to set up here. You can add a title, select the number of posts to display and opt to display post dates. If you’re happy with the default Number of posts to show setting, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise enter the number of posts to show and click Save

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts widget settings)

The number of posts you have specified will now display to visitors on your sidebar menu …

Recent Posts WordPress widget displayed on sidebar

(Recent Posts widget added to sidebar navigation section)

How to create posts in WordPress is explained in this step-by-step tutorial: How To Create A Post In WordPress

Add A Pages Widget To Your Blog Sidebar

Next, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar to display page links.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your active widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar navigation section

(Adding a Pages widget to the sidebar area)

The Pages widget allows you to configure the following settings:

  • Title: Add a title to display above your links (e.g. “Pages“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or by page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Use this setting to prevent pages from showing on your sidebar navigation section (3) …

WordPress Pages Widget settings

(WordPress Pages Widget settings)

By default, pages will be listed by title in alphabetical order. If you want to display pages using another option, then choose a different method in the Sort by: drop-down menu …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - sort options

(Pages Widget settings – sort options)

To exclude pages from showing to visitors, just enter the Page Ids for all the pages you would like to exclude separated by commas into the Exclude field of the widget …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(Pages Widget settings – excluding pages by ID)

We provide a step-by-step tutorial that show you how to find a WordPress page ID here: How To Find The WordPress Page Or Post ID

Click the Save button when finished and click Close at the bottom of the widget box to minimize your widget.

Links to your blog’s main pages will now show on the sidebar …

WordPress Pages Widget on sidebar

(Pages Widget on blog sidebar)

Practical Tip

Tip: You can add multiple Pages widgets to the sidebar. This is handy if you want to display different page groups on the sidebar area (e.g. “Products”, “Legal Pages” etc.)

Add A Links Widget To Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Menu

Next, let’s add a Links widget to the sidebar menu.

Before adding a Links widget to your sidebar section, we recommend setting up the Links section inside the dashboard first …

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links section)

Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on setting up and using the WordPress Links feature.

To add the widget, find a Links widget in the Available Widgets section …

Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag the Links widget to your active area …

Make Links Widget active

(Making Links Widget active)

The Links widget offers a number of configurable options, including the ability to specify what information to show about your links and how many links you want to display on your sidebar navigation menu …

Links Widget Settings

(Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to your sidebar navigation menu as you want. As you will see in a moment, this lets you create and display specific lists of links on your site …

Add Multiple WordPress Links Widgets To The Sidebar

(Add Multiple Links Widgets To Your Sidebar)

You can sort links by Link title, Link rating, Link ID, or display links in Random order …

WordPress Links widget: 'Sort by:' drop-down menu

(Links widget: ‘Sort by:’ drop-down menu)

You can also create and display a list of items for a specific category, by selecting a link category from the ‘Select Link Category’ drop-down menu …

WordPress Links widget: 'Select Link Category' drop-down menu

( Links widget: ‘Select Link Category’ drop-down menu)

When you have finished configuring the Links Widget, click the Save button …

Links added to WordPress sidebar menu

(External links added to WordPress sidebar section)

As the above example shows, you can display specific external links to your site visitors (e.g. a list for a specific link category only), and add multiple link lists to your WordPress sidebar menu.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your Blog


This is the end of section 3 of this tutorial series.

Click on this link to read the rest of this tutorial series:


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3.