How to Create Featured Posts Section in WordPress

WordPress is well known for its great powerful customization feature. Whenever you feel something is required, you can easily achieve that in many ways such as:

  • WordPress plugins
  • Adding functions
  • Editing previously created functions.

Here we are going to learn how to add a featured posts section or featured content in your WordPress. Featured contents are used to highlight some content to your visitors. Sometimes it is mandatory to display some important posts first to your audience. So in this tutorial, we’ll learn to make featured posts section.

Add a featured posts section

There is a simple step by step procedure to follow.

Before we proceed let’s take a quick look at what we will need:

WordPress: Yes, an obvious one – you’ll need it installed either locally or on your web server.

How to install WordPress you can read here.

WordPress Theme: You can use any theme which you like the most but here we are using our theme ‘Bharat‘ a simple, beautiful and responsive blog theme.


There are 3 steps for this procedure.

  1. Creating a checkbox (metabox) in post/page admin area.
  2. Save meta box value.
  3. Display the featured posts on the frontend.

Step 1- Creating a check-box

To add a checkbox to pages/posts edit screen add the following function to your theme’s functions.php file.

<?php function sm_custom_meta() {
    add_meta_box( 'sm_meta', __( 'Featured Posts', 'sm-textdomain' ), 'sm_meta_callback', 'post' );
function sm_meta_callback( $post ) {
    $featured = get_post_meta( $post->ID );
    <div class="sm-row-content">
        <label for="meta-checkbox">
            <input type="checkbox" name="meta-checkbox" id="meta-checkbox" value="yes" <?php if ( isset ( $featured['meta-checkbox'] ) ) checked( $featured['meta-checkbox'][0], 'yes' ); ?> />
            <?php _e( 'Featured this post', 'sm-textdomain' )?>
add_action( 'add_meta_boxes', 'sm_custom_meta' );

After adding this code you will find a checkbox field in your post admin area as shown in the image below:

featured post featured content in wordpress

You just have to enable this checkbox.

Step 2 – Save meta box value

We have done creating a check box in post/page edit screen. Now it is the time to save the value of the checkbox weather checkbox enabled or not.  Now we will create a function to save or update the checkbox value. Add

Add the following code to your function.php file. This code will go just below the above code we created earlier.

 * Saves the custom meta input
function sm_meta_save( $post_id ) {
    // Checks save status
    $is_autosave = wp_is_post_autosave( $post_id );
    $is_revision = wp_is_post_revision( $post_id );
    $is_valid_nonce = ( isset( $_POST[ 'sm_nonce' ] ) && wp_verify_nonce( $_POST[ 'sm_nonce' ], basename( __FILE__ ) ) ) ? 'true' : 'false';
    // Exits script depending on save status
    if ( $is_autosave || $is_revision || !$is_valid_nonce ) {
 // Checks for input and saves
if( isset( $_POST[ 'meta-checkbox' ] ) ) {
    update_post_meta( $post_id, 'meta-checkbox', 'yes' );
} else {
    update_post_meta( $post_id, 'meta-checkbox', '' );
add_action( 'save_post', 'sm_meta_save' );

The update posts meta function will update or save the data to the database of a meta key ‘meta-checkbox’.

Step 3- Displaying the Featured Posts on the Frontend

Now we are in the final step and in this step, we will display the featured posts on the frontend. To display the featured posts we will make a page template in our theme’s directory and add the below code

  $args = array(
        'posts_per_page' => 5,
        'meta_key' => 'meta-checkbox',
        'meta_value' => 'yes'
    $featured = new WP_Query($args);
if ($featured->have_posts()): while($featured->have_posts()): $featured->the_post(); ?>
<h3><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"> <?php the_title(); ?></a></h3>
<p class="details">By <a href="<?php the_author_posts() ?>"><?php the_author(); ?> </a> / On <?php echo get_the_date('F j, Y'); ?> / In <?php the_category(', '); ?></p>
<?php if (has_post_thumbnail()) : ?>
<figure> <a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_post_thumbnail(); ?></a> </figure>
<p ><?php the_excerpt();?></p>
endwhile; else:


You have done the task successfully .

You can also make your posts featured using Free WordPress plugins.

Hope this article will help you in adding the featured posts functionality in your theme.

Please do Comments if you have any queries. I would love to hear your awesome responses in commenting section.

48 thoughts on “How to Create Featured Posts Section in WordPress”

  1. I’m new to wordpress and I don’t know why but I had to pass a third parameter to checked() – false. Otherwise it would print checked=”checked” after the input. Can you tell me why? 🙂

  2. That’s what I was looking for, thanks a lot. There’s just one thing… I can’t take the ‘featured-checkbox’ back. So if I checked it once I can’t uncheck it anymore. Any ideas?

  3. How can I made , that featured posts will not show on standart loop?

    This is my loop –
    if (have_posts()) :
    echo “”;
    while (have_posts()) : the_post();
    echo ”;
    echo “”.get_the_title();
    echo the_post_thumbnail(array(220,200));
    echo “”;
    echo ”;

    echo “”;

    • I used no instead of yes
      ‘meta_key’ => ‘meta-checkbox’,
      ‘meta_value’ => false
      $featured = new WP_Query($args); ?>

  4. Great solution. I was trying something along these lines but didn’t manage it as well. BTW for additional custom post types I duplicated – add_meta_box( ‘sm_meta’, __( ‘Featured Posts’, ‘sm-textdomain’ ), ‘sm_meta_callback’, ‘post’ ); changing ‘post’ to my CPT title and it works great.

    • Neha, you can also add a checkbox for featured in pages by replacing the ‘post’ slug to ‘page’
      For example
      add_meta_box( 'sm_meta', __( 'Featured Posts', 'sm-textdomain' ), 'sm_meta_callback', 'page' );

    • Hello!
      I have been trying to save and display a PAGE as featured content, but the code above only works for POSTS, do you think you can provide the full function code to achieve this? I would really appreciate it.


  5. I have noticed that when you modify the categories using the quick editing of wordpress, the post is automatically unchecked as featured. You must go back to normal editing to recheck the post as featured. There is some way to fix this issue? Thanks again!

  6. Great tutorial! Saved me hours of work. To make managements of featured posts even easier; Is there a way if adding the check-box to the Posts admin page? This can allow multiple selection of post as featured posts and cut down time editing posts individual posts each time changes need to be done.

  7. I am getting “Warning: Cannot modify header information” on two files. wp-includes/pluggable.php and wp-admin/post.php

    Do you know why this might be?


  8. For some features I have moved to WP from sbisitesell. Now, discovering the features one by one! Featured post is one of them i’m looking for. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Hi Poonam! Thank you for your helpful posts.
    But I have a problem, there’re two similar post when I choose it as a featured post.
    I want to remove the post below and only show 1 featured post on top.
    What should I do?
    My site is thuthuatios[dot]com

  10. hi
    thanks for such a nice tutorial
    my question is
    how i can use this code for posting my listing through a plugin
    i am using listingpro plugin but on add listing page i want to have featured option
    but when i add your code it only added on wp add post page not in add listing page
    please help or guide
    thanks in advance

  11. Do you have any idea to always display the last 3 posts selected?
    I’m using ‘posts_per_page’ => 3 but If I have more posts selected than that, the next item selected won’t be shown because is not following a sequential order.
    I tried to use ‘orderby ‘=> ‘date’ but doesn’t work properly.
    What do you recommend to solve this problem?
    Thank you in advance!

  12. This post is still ruling in 2020 🙂 , thank you for sharing. If anyone would like to have the metabox above the publish section you just need to change this add_meta_box( ‘sm_meta’, __( ‘Featured Posts’, ‘sm-textdomain’ ), ‘sm_meta_callback’, ‘post’ ); to this add_meta_box( ‘sm_meta’, __( ‘Featured Posts’, ‘mulk’ ), ‘mulk_sm_meta_callback’, ‘post’, ‘side’, ‘high’ );

  13. Thank you for your effort, it’s great code and it works well.

    I am trying to make the code add more than one option together at the same time,
    Example: Featured, Trending, Editors’ Choice.

    Does the code allow me to do that?

    I will be waiting for your response, it means a lot to me.

    Thank you!!


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