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How to Require Featured Images for Posts in WordPress

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How to Require Featured Images for Posts in WordPress

Recently one of our readers who has a multi-author WordPress blog asked us if there was a way to make sure that each author adds a feature image for their posts. Like most thing, the answer is yes. In this article, we will show you how to require featured images for posts in WordPress. If the featured image is not found, then the publish functionality will return an error asking the author to add the featured image.

Why Require Featured Images for Posts?

WordPress makes it extremely easy to add featured images also known as post thumbnails. This is why most WordPress themes comes with built-in support for these additional image sizes. A lot of these layouts do not look good if the post thumbnail is missing.

The problem comes when you accidentally forget to add a featured image and publish the post. This gets worst if you have a multi-author team, and you don’t have a good editorial workflow. To ensure that the featured image is always there, you have two options. First, you can set a default fallback featured image and that will sort of fix the issue because it will display a default image if no thumbnail was found. Now while this fixes the layout issue, it is not always best case scenario. Alternatively, you can require featured images for all posts before they can be published.

Video Tutorial

If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

Requiring Featured Images in WordPress

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Require Featured Image plugin. This plugin works out of the box, so there are no settings for you to configure. Simply go to Posts » Add New, and you will see a red notification informing you that this post can not be published without a featured image. You will also notice that the Publish button is disabled.

Asking user to upload featured image before publishing a post

Now go ahead and upload a featured image to the post. As soon as you do that, the notice will disappear and the Publish button is enabled again.

A user can publish a post after uploading a featured image

This is a very simple and clever solution to get the job done. We wish there was a better to-do list plugin that the author must check before they can publish the post. That would certainly make the editor’s job a lot easier.

We hope this answers how to require featured images for posts in WordPress. Let us know how you handle featured images on your WordPress site by leaving a comment below.

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. Dave Navarro says:

    I really wish there was a plugin that set the default featured image by category/taxonomy.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Take a look at our guide on how to add a default featured image in WordPress. You can modify the code by adding conditional tags, like is_tax() or is_category() . An untested example code:

      <?php if ( is_tax() ) :
      if ( has_post_thumbnail() ) {
      } else { ?>

      <?php }

  2. Joy Baker says:

    I’d like to set this feature for creating pages instead of posts. Is there a plugin for that?

  3. Rajesh says:

    Thanks for such nice and easy solutions. But can you suggest some of the best FREE resources to grab and use images for blog post, which we can publish or reuse. Thank you!

  4. Zimbrul says:

    My question might sound stupid but here I go: does the WordPress scale down the image when inserting it as a featured image if the image is larger than the required featured image?
    I mean, when you insert a featured image you have the option to choose from the pre-set images sizes. Does that mean the featured image is automatically scaled down when displayed as “featured image”?
    Never digged into this one until now.

  5. Paul says:

    Just wanted to say thanks, clever plug idea, it helps with a single person blog as well ;-) Enjoy your info quite a bit, thanks for the effort.

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