Using a Plugin to Display Recent Posts in WordPress

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There are a couple of ways to display recent categories in WordPress.  In a previous post, we discussed how to use a code to create this type of sidebar section.  However, there is actually a much easier way.  If you would rather not try to figure out how to make use of coding, this sidebar widget is perfect for you.  The following WordPress tutorial will walk you through it.  The result is that you will have a category on your sidebar that displays all of the recent posts you’ve made.

There is one reason why you might want to use the code to display your recent posts instead of the widget: it gives you a little more customization options, and you are no longer dependent on the plugin.  However, using this plugin is so easy and gives you everything you will really need.

Create the Sidebar with a Widget

Here’s how you can use this widget to create your sidebar.

First, you will need to download the Category Posts Widget from wordpress.org.  Once you’ve installed and activated it, you will be able to access it through the Appearance, Widgets section.  You will see the Category Posts widget on the list.

First, drag and drop the widget over to the sidebar section.  Then decide where you want it to appear on the sidebar.  Then click on it to view the options.

Give it a Title

You will be able to give the widget a title.  You might call it something like “Most Recent Posts.”  You can select a category next.  You can decide to pull your displayed posts from all posts made or from posts made in a specific category.

Next, you can decide how many posts you want to show on the widget.  Remember not to have it show too many or it may take up a large amount of your sidebar.  Anywhere from three to five is usually good.

You can then select the sort option next.  Since you are using this widget to show recent posts, you will probably want to have it sorted by date.

You will see three checkboxes after the Sort By section:

  • Reverse sort order (ascending) – check this if you want your posts displayed in reverse sort order (from oldest to newest instead of newest to oldest).
  • Make widget title link – this will link the title of each post to that post. You will want to check it so that people can more easily view the recent posts.
  • Show post excerpt – checking this will display a short excerpt from the post after the title.
  • Excerpt length (in words) – enter the number of words you want to include in the excerpt. Remember that the widget may look crowded if you display too many words.
  • Show number of comments – check this box if you want visitors to be able to see how many comments were made on each post.
  • Show post date – checking this option will display the date the post was made on.
  • Show post thumbnail – this will add a small picture beside the link if the post includes an image.
  • Thumbnail dimensions (in pixels) – you can set the width and height of the thumbnail.

Once you’ve selected your options, click on the Save button.

Now return to your WordPress site.   You should see the widget section on your sidebar with information about your most recent posts.

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