Beginner's Guide for WordPress / Start your WordPress Blog in minutes

How to: Related Posts with Thumbnails in WordPress without Plugins

Do you want to display a list of related posts on your WordPress website and prefer to use code rather than a plugin?

When visitors to your blog have finished reading an article they are interested in, offering a list of related posts will keep them engaged and help them to find new content to read.

In this article, we will show you how to display related posts with WordPress using code, with no plugin required.

How to: Related Posts with Thumbnails in WordPress Without Plugins

Why Show Related Pages in WordPress?

When your WordPress blog starts to grow, it can become more difficult for users to find other posts on the same topic.

Displaying a list of related content at the end of each blog post is a great way of keeping your visitors on your website and increasing pageviews. It also helps improve the visibility of your most important pages by displaying your best content where people can easily find it.

If you’re not familiar with code, then you will find it simpler to choose one of the many WordPress related post plugins that can display related posts without code.

But if you’ve ever wondered whether you can display related posts without using a plugin, then we’ll share two different algorithms you can use to generate related posts with thumbnails using code alone:

Note: If you wish to show a thumbnail with each related post, then make sure you first add a featured image to those posts.

Method 1: How to Show Related Posts in WordPress by Tags

One efficient way to locate related content is to look for other posts that share the same tags. Tags are often used to focus on the specific details contained in a post.

With that in mind, you may wish to go ahead and add some common tags to the posts you want to relate to each other. You can enter them in the ‘Tags’ box in the WordPress editor.

The ‘Tags’ Settings Box in the WordPress Editor

After you have added tags to your posts, the next thing to do is to add the following code snippet to your theme’s single.php template. If you need help adding code to your site, then refer to our guide on how to add custom code in WordPress.

$orig_post = $post;
global $post;
$tags = wp_get_post_tags($post->ID);
if ($tags) {
$tag_ids = array();
foreach($tags as $individual_tag) $tag_ids[] = $individual_tag->term_id;
$args=array(
'tag__in' => $tag_ids,
'post__not_in' => array($post->ID),
'posts_per_page'=>5, // Number of related posts that will be shown.
'ignore_sticky_posts'=>1
);
$my_query = new wp_query( $args );
if( $my_query->have_posts() ) {
  
echo '<div id="relatedposts"><h3>Related Posts</h3><ul>';
  
while( $my_query-&gt;have_posts() ) {
$my_query-&gt;the_post(); ?&gt;
  
<li><div class="relatedthumb"><a href="<?php the_permalink()?>" rel="bookmark" title="<?php the_title(); ?>"><!--?php the_post_thumbnail(); ?--></a></div>
<div class="relatedcontent">
<h3><a href="<?php the_permalink()?>" rel="bookmark" title="<?php the_title(); ?>"><!--?php the_title(); ?--></a></h3>
<!--?php the_time('M j, Y') ?-->
</div>
</li>
<!--?php }
echo '</ul--></ul></div>';
}
}
$post = $orig_post;
wp_reset_query();

This code looks for tags associated with a page and then runs a database query to fetch pages with similar tags.

Where should you place the code? That depends on your theme, but in most cases, you should be able to paste the code into your theme’s single.php template after the main post and right above the comments section.

If you are using the Twenty Twenty-One theme as we are on our demo site, then a good place to paste the code is in the template-parts/content/content-single.php file after the header and just after <?php the_content();.

Related Content by Tags Preview

This will automatically display related content on any WordPress post. You’ll need to change the styling and appearance of your related posts to match your theme by adding custom CSS.

Related Content by Tags Preview

Method 2: How to Show Related Posts in WordPress by Category

Another way to display related content is to list posts that are in the same category. The advantage of this method is that the list of related posts will almost never be blank.

Like Method 1, you need to add a code snippet to your theme’s single.php template. For more details, refer to Method 1 and our guide on how to add custom code in WordPress.

$orig_post = $post;
global $post;
$categories = get_the_category($post-&gt;ID);
if ($categories) {
$category_ids = array();
foreach($categories as $individual_category) $category_ids[] = $individual_category-&gt;term_id;
$args=array(
'category__in' =&gt; $category_ids,
'post__not_in' =&gt; array($post-&gt;ID),
'posts_per_page'=&gt; 2, // Number of related posts that will be shown.
'ignore_sticky_posts'=&gt;1
);
$my_query = new wp_query( $args );
if( $my_query-&gt;have_posts() ) {
echo '<div id="related_posts"><h3>Related Posts</h3><ul>';
while( $my_query-&gt;have_posts() ) {
$my_query-&gt;the_post();?&gt;
  
<li><div class="relatedthumb"><a href="<?php the_permalink()?>" rel="bookmark" title="<?php the_title(); ?>"><!--?php the_post_thumbnail(); ?--></a></div>
<div class="relatedcontent">
<h3><a href="<?php the_permalink()?>" rel="bookmark" title="<?php the_title(); ?>"><!--?php the_title(); ?--></a></h3>
<!--?php the_time('M j, Y') ?-->
</div>
</li>
<!--?php }
echo '</ul--></ul></div>';
}
}
$post = $orig_post;
wp_reset_query();

Now you will see a list of related content at the bottom of each post.

If you want to change the styling and appearance of your related pages, then you will need to add custom CSS to match your theme.

We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to display related posts with thumbnails in WordPress without plugins.

You may also want to learn how to track visitors to your WordPress site, or check out our list of 24 tips to speed up 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.

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

180 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Is there a way to have related post based on the post title. I do not have tags and my categories really don’t do the trick since there is no distinction between them.

    This would be of great help if you had a code to show related content based on the post title.

    • Thank you for your feedback, this article should currently be using the php version everywhere :)

      Admin

  2. Thank you for your nice post.

    Here “ignore_sticky_posts” should be used instead of “caller_get_posts”. Because “caller_get_posts” is deprecated.

    • This method limits the posts to the category the post is in. To limit the categories you would need to create an if statement to exclude certain categories.

      Admin

  3. Is it possible where there are more than X related posts by category that are related that you can randomise say 3 posts?

    • While it is possible, it would require adding far more to this, you may want to look into a plugin for that type of customization.

      Admin

  4. I found a way to make the smaller thumbnails, but it shows them in a column and not horizontally. How can this be modified?

  5. The script is working well. The only problem I have is that the thumb-nails are very large. Would there be some way to make them smaller?

  6. how to do for create a shortcode for this code, I created the function but I do not know how to return the print to the page.

  7. Hello,
    I’m a beginner in WorldPress.
    I’d like to show Related Posts.
    In the main menu I have Category A, and in Category A – Subcategories A, B and C. The posts are in Category A, but they can also be present in all 3 Subcategories.
    When choosing one of the Related Posts something goes wrong and the posts from the initially chosen Subcategory don’t show correct anymore.

  8. Hi Admin, Very informative article. I like your site because of simplicity and straightforwardness. All articles are to the point but when it comes to sharing the knowledge of code you become too technical. Just ignore the fact that much of the visitors are not coding expert. Wouldn’t it be much better if you just add 2or 3 more lines in your explanation to make it complete and easily understandable to all. Anyway, great article But I want to know which code or plugin is Wpbeginner using?

  9. what really sucks about your articles is you never actually say HOW to do something. It’s all well and good to tell me to put code into my single.php, but as a beginner I don’t know what that is or where to find it. You might want to think about putting this kind of critical information into your articles instead of assuming we know what it means, or that we have surfed every one of your articles to figure it out.

  10. Thanks for the great post, very useful. I came across an error in the code so wanted to share in hope it may be useful for others in the future. The error was:

    WP_Query was called with an argument that is deprecated since version 3.1.0! “caller_get_posts” is deprecated. Use “ignore_sticky_posts” instead.

    So I simply replaced it and it worked fine. I am also using namespacing so I needed to change WP_Query to \WP_Query plus I changed the order of the below:

    global $post;
    $orig_post = $post;

    Thanks again
    Rose

  11. sir
    I am using the code of categories working properly but one thing is when on home page same category of 2 or 3 post then the link show balack but i want to show to show category which is next post

  12. Hi,

    Thanks for your post. I added the code in content-single.php and it worked. However, it displays as 1 column not 3 columns like your example. Could you please help me on this? I want my related posts to be displayed in 1 row, 3 columns. Thanks so much.

Leave a Reply to Greg Cancel 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.