How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

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

Adding And Configuring Widgets On Your WordPress SidebarIn Part 1 of this tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In this section you will configure other widgets.

Add A Post Categories Section To The Sidebar Navigation Area

Now that you have configure a text widget containing a clickable contact button, let’s configure a widget for your Categories.

By default, the Categories widget displays on your sidebar section. All you have to do, therefore, is place the widget wherever you want your categories to display by clicking and dragging it in the sidebar area …

Post Categories Widget

(WordPress Post Categories widget)

Useful Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to the sidebar section, you should first configure your Categoriesfeature inside your WordPress dashboard …

WordPress Categories Screen


Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on how to set up and use categories in WordPress.

Let’s configure your Categories widget settings as described below:

  • In Title: type something that will make sense to visitors, for example, “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you plan to use many categories (this significantly reduces the length of your 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 other options unchecked, or see the additional notes on configuring the Categories widget below.
  • Click Save to update your settings …

WordPress Categories Widget settings

(Configuring a Categories widget)

Load the site in your browser or refresh your page to see how your Categories widget will look to site visitors …

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar menu

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar)

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 option, otherwise leave this box unchecked.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category, tick 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 Your Sidebar

The Recent Posts widget displays on the sidebar navigation section by default. All you need to do is configure this widget.

Click on its widget title bar to configure its settings …

Recent Posts widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There is very little to configure in this widget. You can add a title if you want, select the number of posts to display and opt to display post dates. If you want to use the default setting for Number of posts to show, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise enter the number of posts to show and click Save when done …

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts WordPress widget settings)

The most recent number of posts you’ve specified will display on your sidebar navigation area …

Recent Posts widget added to sidebar

(Recent Posts WordPress widget added to sidebar)

How to create and edit posts in WordPress is covered in this tutorial: How To Create A New Post In WordPress

Add Links To Your Site’s Main Pages In The Sidebar

Next, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar linking visitors to the pages on your site.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

Pages Widget

(WordPress Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your sidebar widget area …

Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into the sidebar

(Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar section)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following options:

  • Title: Add a title to the widget (e.g. “Site Info“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Prevent pages from being visible on your sidebar (3) …

Pages Widget settings

(Pages Widget settings)

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

WordPress Pages Widget settings - sort options

(Pages Widget settings – item sorting options)

To exclude certain pages from showing in the widget, type or paste in the Page Ids for all the pages you want excluded separated by commas into the Exclude field …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – exclude pages)

Finding a WordPress post or page ID is covered in this tutorial: How To Find The ID Of WordPress Pages And Posts

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

Links to your main pages will now show in your sidebar navigation area …

Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(Pages Widget on sidebar)

Useful Tip

Tip: You can add multiple Pages widgets to your sidebar navigation area. This is helpful if you need to display separate groups of pages on the sidebar (e.g. “Products”, “Legal Pages” etc.)

Add A Links Widget To Your Blog Sidebar

Now, we’ll add a widget that will display external links on your WordPress sidebar.

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

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links section)

Note: We plan to provide tutorials about how to set up and use the Links feature in WordPress.

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

Links Widget

(WordPress Links Widget)

Drag the Links widget to your sidebar area …

Making Links Widget active

(Making Links Widget active)

The 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 section …

Links Widget Settings

(Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to the 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 Your Sidebar

(Add Multiple WordPress Links Widgets To Your Sidebar Navigation Area)

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 to update your settings. Your widget will become immediately visible on your WordPress sidebar menu …

Links added to WordPress sidebar

(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 lists of links to the WordPress sidebar.

How To Use Widgets


This is the end of section three of this tutorial on how to use WordPress widgets.

To keep reading, click this link:


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for non-techies and beginners. provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and grow your business online at minimal cost!