How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

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

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Adding And Configuring Widgets On The Sidebar SectionIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In this tutorial you will configure other default widgets.

Adding Categories To The Blog Sidebar

Now that you have set up a text widget containing a contact button, let’s configure a widget for displaying Post Categories on the sidebar.

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

WordPress Categories Widget

(Categories widget)

Useful Tip

your post categories …

Post Categories

(Post Categories)

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

Let’s configure the Categories widget settings as shown below:

  • In Title: type something that your visitors will understand, for example, “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you have too many categories (this significantly reduces the length of the widget content by displaying all categories in a drop-down menu). Leave the box unchecked if you want a list of all categories to display on the sidebar. (2)
  • Leave the default settings for the remaining options, or see the additional notes on configuring this widget below.
  • Click Save to update your settings …

Configuring a Categories Widget

(Categories widget settings)

Load the site in your browser or reload your page to see how your sidebar categories will display to your blog readers …

Categories widget added to sidebar navigation area

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar)



  • 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 option as is.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category on your site, 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

The Recent Posts widget typically appears on the sidebar by default. All you need to do is configure the widget.

Click on its title bar to configure its settings …

Recent Posts WordPress widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There’s really very little to set up in this widget. You can add a widget title, select the number of posts to display and display post dates. If you’re happy to use the default Number of posts to show setting, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise change the number of posts and click Save when done …

Recent Posts widget settings

(Recent Posts WordPress widget settings)

Your most recent posts will appear on the sidebar menu …

Recent Posts widget added to sidebar

(Recent Posts widget on blog sidebar)

A step-by-step tutorial is provided on creating WordPress Posts here: How To Create A Post In WordPress

Display Your Site’s Pages In Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

Next, let’s add a widget to your sidebar navigation section to display page links.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

Pages Widget

(WordPress Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to the sidebar section

(Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into the sidebar)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following options:

  • Title: Add a title to the widget (e.g. “Useful Information“) (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 the sidebar (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 one of the other options, then select a different method from the Sort by: drop-down menu …

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(Pages Widget settings – item sorting options)

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

Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – exclude pages)

How to find a page ID in WordPress is explained in this step-by-step tutorial: How To Locate WordPress Post And Page IDs

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

Links to your site’s pages will now display in the sidebar navigation section …

Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(Pages Widget on blog sidebar)

Useful Tip

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

Add A Links Widget To Your Sidebar

Next, we’ll add a widget to the sidebar section that displays external links (e.g. to useful resources, affiliate links, etc).

Before adding the Links widget to the sidebar, we first recommend configuring the Links feature inside the WordPress dashboard …

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links section)

Note: Using Links will be explained in separate tutorials.

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

Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag it to your sidebar 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 area …

WordPress Links Widget Settings

(Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to your sidebar 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 The Sidebar)

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

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 …

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

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

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

Links added to WordPress sidebar

(Links added to WordPress sidebar)

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

How To Add Widgets To Your WordPress Sidebar Menu


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

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


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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