Trusted WordPress tutorials, when you need them most.
Beginner’s Guide to WordPress
25 Million+
Websites using our plugins
Years of WordPress experience
WordPress tutorials
by experts

How to Require Featured Images for Posts in WordPress

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on WPBeginner. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. Learn more about Editorial Process.

Do you want to require featured images for posts in WordPress?

If you are running a multi-author WordPress blog, then you will want to ensure that each author adds a featured image for their posts before publishing it.

In this article, we will show you how to easily require featured images for posts in WordPress.

How to require featured images for posts in WordPress

Why Require WordPress Featured Images for Posts?

Featured images, also known as thumbnails, are the primary images for a blog post. They usually appear next to the post title on your WordPress blog or social media platforms.

These thumbnails make your blog look more professional and boost user engagement on your website.

WordPress makes it easy to add featured images to your posts. You can even set a default featured image, which can be used if no featured image is added for a post.

Ideally, you will want to create and use featured images for each article on your WordPress website. However, sometimes you or other authors on your website may accidentally publish an article without a featured image.

This mistake can make the post look incomplete and unprofessional.

Missing featured image

You can easily prevent this from happening by requiring a featured image for your posts before they can be published.

This way, whenever an author tries to publish a post without a featured image, they will see an error asking them to add a featured image.

That being said, let’s see how you can easily require a featured image for posts on your WordPress site.

How to Require Featured Images for Posts in WordPress

First, you need to install and activate the PublishPress Checklists plugin. For more instructions, please see our beginner’s guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Note: To unlock the more advanced features, you can also upgrade to the PublishPress Pro plan. This will give you access to amazing features like creating custom checklists, setting conditions, tracking progress, and more.

Upon activation, head over to the Checklists » Settings page from the WordPress admin sidebar.

From here, simply check the ‘Posts’ option to add a checklist to your post editor.

Once you are done, don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.

Check the Posts option on the Settings page

After that, visit the Checklists » Checklists page from the WordPress admin dashboard.

From here, scroll down to the Featured Image section and select the ‘Required’ option from the dropdown next to it.

Select the required option for the featured image

Optionally, you can also allow certain user roles to publish the post without a thumbnail.

For instance, if you don’t want to disable the publish functionality for users with the Administrator user role, then you can easily do that.

Simply select the ‘Administrator’ user role from the ‘Who can ignore this task?” dropdown menu in the ‘Featured Image’ row.

Choose a user role who won't be required to add featured image before publishing

PublishPress Checklist also offers a bunch of other highly useful options that you can add to your checklist. Feel free to review and use them on your website if needed.

For instance, you can set a word count limit for content, the number of categories that can be selected, the number of internal links, and more.

Once you are done, simply click the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.

Next, open up the post you want to edit, or you can create a new post by going to the Posts » Add New screen from the WordPress admin area.

Here you will see the ‘Publish’ button disabled along with a red exclamation mark (!) asking you to add a featured image.

A ‘Checklist’ tab will also be added to the column on the right corner of the screen. This tab will also notify you to add a featured image.

Publish button will be disabled

Now go ahead and upload a featured image to the WordPress post.

As soon as you do that, the notice will disappear, and the ‘Publish’ or ‘Update’ button will be enabled again.

Publish button will be enabled once the Featured image is uploaded

Bonus: Use AIOSEO to Set a Default Featured Image for Social Sharing

Many blogs use their featured image as the Open Graph image for social media websites like Twitter and Facebook.

This means when someone shares one of your articles, the featured image is added to the link card.

Open graph image

WordPress doesn’t automatically make the featured image the Open Graph image for your blog post. This means that sometimes social media websites may end up showing a totally irrelevant image when someone shares your link.

This is where All in One SEO for WordPress comes in. It allows you to easily set your featured images as your social media image as well.

All in One SEO is the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market that allows you to easily optimize your website for search engines.

All in One SEO plugin

First, you need to install and activate the All in One SEO for WordPress plugin. For details, please see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Note: All in One SEO also has a free version that you can give a try. However, we recommend upgrading to the paid plan to unlock the most-wanted All in One SEO features.

Upon activation, the plugin will launch the setup wizard.

Simply follow the on-screen instructions to set up the plugin or see our guide on how to properly set up All in One SEO for WordPress.

Click let's get started AIOSEO setup wizard

Once finished, you need to visit the All in One SEO » Social Networks page from the WordPress dashboard and switch to the Facebook tab.

From here, you can select ‘Featured Image’ next to the Default Post Image Source option.

Default social media image

You can also set a default image under the ‘Default Post Facebook Image’ option. This image will be used for posts and pages that don’t have a featured image.

Next, you need to switch to the Twitter tab and do the same for the ‘Default Image Source’ and ‘Default Post Twitter Image’ options.

Set featured image to be used as Twitter image

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.

All in One SEO will now automatically set the featured image to be used as a social media image.

However, what happens if you want to use a different image for social sharing instead of using the featured image of the post?

No worries; you can also override it for any post or page. Simply edit the post or page and scroll down to the AIOSEO Settings section at the bottom.

Here, you must switch to the ‘Social’ tab.

Go to the Facebook tab in the AIOSEO Social settings

Next, scroll down the ‘Image Source’ section and select the ‘Custom Image’ option from the dropdown menu.

After that, add the address of the image that you want to use as the Facebook image.

Upload custom image

You can now check how your content will look on Facebook using the ‘Facebook Preview’ tab at the top.

Once you’ve done that, you can also switch to the ‘Twitter’ tab at the top to configure the Twitter image settings.

Facebook preview of the post

From here, you can now simply toggle the ‘Use Data from Facebook Tab’ switch to ‘Active’.

Your featured image for Twitter will now be automatically set the same as the Facebook image.

For more details, see our tutorial on how to set a default featured image in WordPress.

Toggle the Use Data from Facebook Tab switch

Once you are done, don’t forget to click the ‘Publish’ or ‘Update’ button at the top to store your settings.

We hope this article helped you learn how to require a featured image for posts in WordPress. You may also want to see our tutorial on how to add a blog post checklist to the WordPress post editor and our top picks for the best WordPress plugins to grow your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

The Ultimate WordPress Toolkit

Get FREE access to our toolkit - a collection of WordPress related products and resources that every professional should have!

Reader Interactions

8 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
    Every month, our top blog commenters will win HUGE rewards, including premium WordPress plugin licenses and cash prizes.
    You can get more details about the contest from here.
    Start sharing your thoughts below to stand a chance to win!

  2. Dave Navarro says

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

  3. Joy Baker says

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

Leave A Reply

Thanks for choosing to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and your email address will NOT be published. Please Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.