How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

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

Using WidgetsIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

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

How To Add Categories

Now that you know how to set up a text widget containing a clickable help button, let’s configure a widget for displaying Post Categories on the sidebar navigation menu.

The Categories widget already displays on your sidebar by default. Place this widget wherever you want your categories to display by clicking and dragging it in your sidebar area …

Post Categories Widget

(Categories widget)

Practical Tip

your your WordPress categories …

WordPress Categories

(Post Categories Panel)

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

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

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

Configuring a Categories Widget

(Configuring a WordPress Categories widget)

Click Visit Site or reload the page to see how your sidebar categories will look to your blog readers …

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar navigation menu

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar)

Tip

Tips:

  • 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 unticked.
  • 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 displays in your sidebar area by default. All you need to do is configure your widget.

Click on its widget title bar to display the configuration settings …

Recent Posts widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There is very little to configure. You can add a title, select the number of posts to display and opt to 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 enter the number of posts to show and click Save when done …

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts widget settings)

Your most recent posts will display on the sidebar menu …

Recent Posts widget displayed on sidebar

(Recent Posts WordPress widget added to sidebar)

We provide a tutorial on how to create a post in WordPress here: How To Create A Post In WordPress

Adding A Pages Widget

Next, let’s add a widget to your sidebar to display the pages on your site.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

WordPress Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your sidebar widget section …

Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar

(Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into your sidebar)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following options:

  • 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 page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Hide selected pages on your sidebar navigation menu (3) …

WordPress Pages Widget settings

(Pages Widget settings)

By default, pages are displayed by title in alphabetical order. If you want to display pages using one of the other options, then choose a different method from the Sort by: drop-down menu …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sorting options)

To prevent certain pages from showing to visitors, type or paste in their Page Ids separated by commas into the Exclude field …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – excluding pages by ID)

To learn how to find a WordPress post or page ID, see this tutorial: How To Locate WordPress Post And Page IDs

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

Links to your blog’s main pages will now appear in the sidebar navigation area …

Pages Widget on sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on blog sidebar)

Useful Tip

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

Display Links On Your Sidebar Navigation Section

Next, we’ll add a widget to the sidebar for displaying links to external resources.

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

WordPress Links screen

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on how to set up and use the WordPress Links feature.

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

WordPress Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag the 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 the sidebar …

WordPress Links Widget Settings

(WordPress Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to the 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 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 navigation area

(Links added to 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 the sidebar.

Using WordPress Widgets

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

To view Part Four, click this link:

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"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the owner of WPCompendium.org and the author of The WordPress User Manual. WPCompendium.org 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.