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How to Add a Navigation Menu in WordPress (Beginner’s Guide)

Do you want to add a navigation menu to your WordPress site?

WordPress comes with a drag and drop menu interface that you can use to create header menus, menus with dropdown options, and more.

In this step by step guide, we will show you how to easily add a navigation menu in WordPress.

How to Add Navigation Menu in WordPress

What is a Navigation Menu?

A navigation menu is a list of a links pointing to important areas of a website. They are usually presented as a horizontal bar of links at the top of every page on a website.

Navigation menus give your site structure and help visitors find what they’re looking for. Here’s how the navigation menu looks on WPBeginner:

The WPBeginner navigation menu

WordPress makes it really easy to add menus and sub-menus. You can add links to your most important pages, categories or topics, blog posts, and even custom links such as your social media profile.

The exact location of your menu will depend on your WordPress theme. Most themes will have several options, so you can create different menus that can be displayed in different places.

For instance, most WordPress themes come with a primary menu that appears on the top. Some themes may include a secondary menu, a footer menu, or a mobile navigation menu as well.

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If you’d prefer written instructions, just keep reading.

Creating Your First Custom Navigation Menu

To create a navigation menu, you need to visit the Appearance » Menus page in your WordPress admin dashboard.

Creating a menu in WordPress

First, you need to provide a name for your menu, like ‘Top Navigation Menu’ and then click the ‘Create Menu’ button. This will expand the menu area, and it will look like this:

A newly created menu in WordPress

Next, you can choose the pages you want to add to the menu. You can either automatically add all new top-level pages, or you can select specific pages from the left column.

First, click the ‘View All’ tab to see all your site’s pages. After that click the box next to each of the pages you want to add to your menu, and then click on the ‘Add to Menu’ button.

Adding items to the navigation menu

Once your pages have been added, you can move them around by dragging and dropping them.

Dragging and dropping an item to move it in the menu

Note: All menus have their items listed in a vertical (top to bottom) list in the menu editor. When you put the menu live on your site, it’ll either display vertically or horizontally (left to right), depending on the location you select.

Most themes have several different locations where you can put menus. In this example, we’re using the default 2020 theme, which has 5 different locations.

After adding pages to the menu, select the location where you want to display the menu and click on the ‘Save Menu’ button.

Selecting the display location for your menu

Tip: If you’re not sure where each location is, try saving the menu in different places, then visiting your site to see how it looks. You probably won’t want to use all the locations, but you might want to use more than one.

Here’s our finished menu on the site:

Finished Live Navigation Menu

Creating Drop-Down Menus in WordPress

Drop-down menus, sometimes called nested menus, are navigation menus with parent and child menu items. When you run your cursor over a parent item, all the child items will appear beneath it in a sub-menu.

To create a sub menu, drag an item below the parent item, and then drag it slightly to the right. We’ve done that with 3 sub-items beneath ‘Services’ in our menu:

Add menu items as a sub-men

Here’s the sub-menu live on the site:

A drop-down sub menu in the site's navigation

You can even add multiple layers of dropdown, so that your sub menu can have a sub menu. This can end up looking at bit cluttered, and many themes do not support multi-layer drop-down menus.

In this example, you can see that ‘Logo Design’ (a child item of ‘Services’) has two child items of its own.

A nested drop-down menu

Adding Categories to WordPress Menus

If you’re using WordPress to run a blog, then you may want to add your blog categories as a drop-down in your WordPress menu. We do this on WPBeginner:

The WPBeginner menu showing the categories drop-down

You can easily add categories to your menu by clicking the Categories tab on the left side of the Menus screen. You may also need to click the ‘View All’ tab to see all your categories.

Simply select the categories you want to add to the menu, and then click the ‘Add to Menu’ button.

Adding categories to your menu

The categories will appear as regular menu items at the bottom of your menu. You can drag and drop them into position. We’re going to put all of these categories under the Blog menu item.

Putting the categories under the 'Blog' menu item

Do you want to have a blog page on your site that’s separate from your homepage? If so, check out our tutorial on how to create a separate page for blog posts in WordPress.

Adding Custom Links to Your WordPress Navigation Menus

Aside from categories and pages, WordPress also makes it super easy to add custom links to your menu. You can use it to link to your social media profiles, your online store, and / or other websites that you own.

You will need to use the ‘Custom Links’ tab on the Menu screen. Simply add the link along with the text you want to use in your menu.

Adding a custom link to Twitter to the menu

You can even get creative and add social media icons in your menu.

Social media menu

Editing or Removing a Menu Item in WordPress Navigation Menus

When you add pages or categories to your custom navigation menu, WordPress uses the page title or category name as the link text. You can change this if you want.

Any menu item can be edited by clicking on the downward arrow next to it.

Expanding a menu item to edit its name

You can change the name of the menu item here. This is also where you can click ‘Remove’ to take the link off your menu altogether.

If you’re struggling with the drag and drop interface, then you can also move the menu item around by clicking the appropriate ‘Move’ link.

Adding WordPress Menus in Sidebars and Footers

You don’t have to just stick to the display locations for your theme. You can add navigation menus in any area that uses widgets, like your sidebar or footer.

Simply go to Appearance » Widgets and add the ‘Navigation Menu’ widget to your sidebar. Next, add a title for the widget and choose the correct menu from the ‘Select Menu’ drop down list.

Adding a menu as a sidebar widget

Here’s an example of a custom WordPress footer menu built on Syed Balkhi’s website.

WordPress Footer Menu Example - Syed Balkhi

Going Further with Navigation Menus

If you want to create a truly epic menu with loads of links, we’ve got a tutorial on how to create a mega menu in WordPress. This lets you create a drop-down with lots of items including images.

Mega menu preview

Mega menus are a great option if you have a large site, like an online store or news site. This type of menu is used by sites like Reuters, Buzzfeed, Starbucks, etc.

FAQs About WordPress Menus

Here are some of the most common questions we hear about WordPress navigation menus from beginners.

1. How do I add a homepage link to a WordPress menu?

To add your homepage to a navigation menu, you’ll need to click the ‘View All’ tab under Pages. From there, you should see your homepage.

add homepage to WordPress navigation menu

Check the box next to ‘Home’ and click ‘Add to Menu’. Don’t forget to save your changes.

2. How do I add multiple navigation menus in WordPress?

In WordPress, you can create as many menus as you like. To place a menu on your website, you’ll need to add it to one of your theme’s menu locations, or to a widget area as we showed above.

To add multiple navigation menus to your WordPress site, first create the menus following our tutorial above.

To place them on your site, click on the ‘Manage Locations’ tab.

manage menu locations in WordPress

From here, you can select which menu you’d like to display in the menu locations that are available in your theme.

If you want to add a new menu location to your site, see our tutorial on how to add custom navigation menus to WordPress themes.

We hope this article helped you learn how to add a navigation menu in WordPress. You may also want to check out our guides on how to style navigation menus in WordPress and how to create a sticky floating navigation menu in WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

102 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. I’m confused about how to get my posts where I want them to go… I have a recipe blog. On the top of my site, I have categories you can click such as “Dinner recipes” and “Side dishes”… How do I get my specific posts to go on those specific pages when you click on the title at the top of the page?

  2. Very basic question, but how to enable menu on a subpage? I designed some subpages, but the menu is not visible on top. In my main pages the menu is visible. How to enable the menu to make it visible on the sub-pages?

    • You would want to reach out to the support for your specific theme, it sounds like your theme may remove the menu for certain pages. If you reach out to the support they should let you know how to add the menu back.

      Admin

  3. I’m trying to get a navigation menu that is sticky and is not transparent. I’ve tried everything. Am I allowed to change the navigation bar in a theme?

    • You are but it would require some coding knowledge, we would recommend reaching out to your theme’s support and they can normally assist.

      Admin

  4. I have made a navigation menu but it won’t show up on the mobile site and when I go to navigation menu settings it does not have mobile menu as an option. Do you know how I can fix this or do I need to find a different theme?

    • You would need to reach out to the support for your specific theme for it not displaying properly and they would be able to assist.

      Admin

  5. Thanks for the detailed guide. I have a question: how can we add a navbar (for a landing page) which links the landing page sections/elements instead of navigating to other pages. An example is Wikipedia. On any Wikipedia page, you can click on the name of the section and it will immediately go down to that section.

  6. Hi,

    I created categories and added to my menu so that once a reader clicks they can find all the blog posts on that category. My problem is that I don’t want the blog name to appear at the top of the page, that is, Blogging category => Blogging category description => blog posts, how do I remove that?

    • That would depend on your specific theme’s styling. If you reach out to your theme’s support they should be able to assist with changing what is shown

      Admin

    • You would want to ensure your site or your hosting provider does not have a cache that could be causing your issue.

      Admin

  7. Hello, I am using Elementor and OceanWP. I set up a custom link in my menu so that when clicking on it goes to the Home page. How can I make it go instead of just to the Home page, but down the page to a certain section? I appreciate your help.

  8. Pretty much there with the navigation. One question though, I have one point in my navigation “products” from there it splits into 3 other sections (drop down menu coming up). I don’t want visitors be able to access this product page as it will be empty, I want them to choose directly from the drop down menu instead of accessing the products page first. So products will be still displayed in the navigation but will be inaccessible, visitors have to click onto the drop down menu to choose what they are after. How do I do this? I m I m removing the whole products section it wont be displayed in the navi anymore, how can I make the products page inaccessible?

    • You can create a custom link under Appearance>Menus titled Products and link it to either a different page or # which should keep the users on the same page they are on.

      Admin

  9. Hi! Thanks so much for this post. It helped me a lot. I have the “Karuna” theme. Whenever I add more menu options (I have 4) they are displayed in two row. I would like them all to be in one row. Is there a way to fix this? Thank you so much!

  10. Needed to link a buy now button to woo commerce cart page. Spent two days going in circles. Tried to contact woo with little success. Then found you guys who helped solve the problem.
    Often it is the little things which can stop us in our tracks. A big thank you for the simplified set of clear instructions.

  11. Hello,

    I am making a website with Ocean WP and Elementor, however I am unable to see the menu at the top of all of my pages. It only appears at the top of the home page. So people can navigate to any page from the home page, however if anyone wanted to navigate back to the home page or to another page from there, it would tricky. Do you have a solution for this? Thank you!

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