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How to Style Each WordPress Post Differently

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Have you ever come across a site that style their blog posts differently? Some sites have sticky posts highlighted with a custom background whereas others may have each category post styled with a unique look. If you ever wanted to learn how to style each WordPress posts differently, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will show you how to style each WordPress post differently.

Style Each Post Differently

Note: This tutorial requires you to add custom CSS in WordPress. You will also need to be able to use the Inspect tool. Some basic CSS and HTML knowledge is required.

Styling Individual Posts in WordPress

WordPress adds default CSS classes to various elements on your website. A standard compliant WordPress theme must have the code required by WordPress to add CSS classes for body, posts, pages, widgets, menus, and more.

A core WordPress function called post_class() is used by themes to tell WordPress where to add those default CSS classes for posts.

If you visit your website and use the Inspect tool in your browser, then you will be able to see those classes added for each post.

Default CSS classes for WordPress post

Following are the CSS classes added by default based on what page a user is viewing.

  • .post-id
  • .post
  • .attachment
  • .sticky
  • .hentry (hAtom microformat pages)
  • .category-ID
  • .category-name
  • .tag-name
  • .format-{format-name}
  • .type-{post-type-name}
  • .has-post-thumbnail
  • .post-password-required
  • .post-password-protected

An example output would look like this:

<article id="post-412" class="post-412 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-news">

You can style each WordPress post differently using the respective CSS classes.

For example, if you wanted to style an individual post, then you can use the post-id class in your custom CSS.

.post-412 { 
background-color: #FF0303;

Don’t forget to change the post ID to match your own.

Styling a specific post in WordPress

Let’s take a look at another example.

This time we will style all posts filed under a specific category called news.

We can do this by adding the following custom CSS to our theme”

.category-news { 
    font-size: 18px;
    font-style: italic;

This CSS will affect all posts filed under news category.

The Post Class Function

Theme developers use the post_class function to tell WordPress where to add the post classes. Usually it is in the <article> tag.

The post class function not only loads the default WordPress generated CSS classes, it also allows you to add your own classes.

Depending on your theme, you’ll find the post_class function in your single.php file or in the content template files. Normally, the code will look something like this:

<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>

You can add your own custom CSS class with an attribute like this:

<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class('longform-article'); ?>>

The post_class will print out respective default CSS classes along with your custom CSS class.

If you want to add multiple CSS classes, then you can define them as an array and then call them in the post_class function.

$custom_classes = array(
<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class( $custom_classes ); ?>>

Style Posts Differently Based on Authors

The default CSS classes generated by the_posts function does not include author name as a CSS class.

If you want to customize the style of each post based on author, then you will need to first add the author name as a CSS class.

You can do this by using the following snippet:

<?php $author = get_the_author_meta('user_nicename'); ?>
<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class( $author ); ?>>

This code will add the user’s nicename as a CSS class. Nicename is a URL friendly name used by WordPress. It does not have spaces, and all characters are in lowercase which makes it perfect to use as a CSS class.

The above code will give you an output like this:

<article id="post-412" class="peter post-412 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-news">

Now you can use .peter in your custom CSS to style all posts by this particular author to look different.

.peter { 
border:1px solid #CCC; 

Style Posts Based on Popularity using Comment Count

You may have seen sites with popular posts widgets which are sometimes based on comment counts. In this example, we will show you how to style posts differently using the comment count.

First, we need to get the comment count and associate a class with it.

To get the comment count, you’ll need to add the following code in your theme files. This code goes inside the WordPress loop, so you can add it just before the <article> tag as well.

	$postid = get_the_ID();
	$total_comment_count = wp_count_comments($postid);
		$my_comment_count = $total_comment_count->approved;
	if ($my_comment_count <10) {
		$my_comment_count = 'new';
	} elseif ($my_comment_count >= 10 && $my_comment_count <20) {
		$my_comment_count = 'emerging';
	} elseif ($my_comment_count >= 20) {
		$my_comment_count = 'popular';

This code checks comment count for the post being displayed and assigns them a value based on the count. For example, posts with less than 10 comments get a class called new, less than 20 are referred to as emerging, and anything over 20 comments is popular.

Next, you need to add the comment count CSS class to the post_class function.

<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class( $my_comment_count ); ?>>

This will add new, emerging, and popular CSS classes to all posts based on the number of comments each post has.

You can add custom CSS to style posts based on popularity:

.new {border: 1px solid #FFFF00;}
.emerging {border: 1px dashed #FF9933;}
.popular {border: 1px dashed #CC0000;}

We are just adding borders, you can add any CSS rules you want.

Style Posts Based on Custom Fields

Hardcoding CSS classes in your theme file limits you to only those specific CSS classes. What if you wanted to decide which CSS class to add to an article as you are writing it?

With custom fields, you can add CSS classes on the fly.

First you need to add a custom field to a post, so that you can test it out. Edit a post and scroll down to custom fields section.

Add post class as a custom field

Add post-class as the custom field name, and anything you want to use as CSS class in the value field.

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Add custom field’ button to store it and then save your post.

Next, edit your theme files to display your custom field as the post class.

<?php $custom_values = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'post-class'); ?>
<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class( $custom_values ); ?>>

It will output the following HTML:

<article id="post-412" class="trending post-412 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-uncategorized">

You can now add custom CSS for the post_class you added using custom field.


Custom fields can have multiple values, so you can add multiple CSS classes using the same name.

There are many more ways to style WordPress posts individually. As your skills grow, you’ll keep discovering new ways to style posts using different conditions.

We hope this article helped you learn how to style each WordPress post differently. You may also want to see our ultimate list of the most wanted WordPress tips, tricks, and hacks.

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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.

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Reader Interactions

54 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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  2. Rafael says

    Nice article. I guess I could use something like this to check the category of a post and place a custom CSS to change the style of part of the website according to the category, right?

    I’m looking to set different colors only to the background of the Title of the Post for each Category in a Blog.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Your theme would need to add something that can be targeted by CSS, at the moment we do not have a recommended method for adding that.


  3. Les says

    Great article. I wanted to set the default Font size per category and followed the instruction by adding the code to the Style.css file but when I added a new post the font was the old size. See code? What am I missing?

    /* Begin Additional CSS Styles */
    .art-blockheader .t, .art-vmenublockheader .t {white-space: nowrap;}
    .desktop .art-nav-inner{width: 1200px!important;}

    .category-firstg {
    font-size: 18px;
    font-style: bold;
    /* End Additional CSS Styles */

  4. William D says

    Great article, thank you very much. Could the read more button color/text color also be changed in a similar manner? Something (I probably did) has changed my buttons in a very unpleasant way and I’m having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to make them pleasant again.

    Thanks in advance for any help you might provide!

  5. Neon Emmanuel says

    Hello, if i include this in single.php it echo back the current post title, but works fine in index.php, any suggestion to this?

  6. marisa says

    This is a great article but I’m having trouble with placing
    ID, ‘post-class’); ?>

    Where exactly in the loop do I put it? I am using with foundation 5 and my new class isn’t appearing.

  7. Payal says

    Very informative, thank you. I’ve bookmarked this page.

    I also have a question: What if I wanted to style the first (latest) post differently — so that the post displayed at the top of my index page shows up differently?

  8. James says

    Hey there, I’m struggling with this atm..

    My post loop doesnt seem to have a post_class function so I cant figure out where to place the above code…

    This is the loop I use for posts, where would I place the above code? Or how could I get custom fields to work using this?

  9. Jon Fuller says

    Hello, I am quite new to making WordPress themes and I am looking for a way to display each post in a box of its own which is seperated by a margin top and bottom. Please explain how this is possible.


  10. Shaun says

    Curious, how could this be applied to adding a CSS class to only posts posted that have the same “meta value” or “meta value number”?

    Thanks for the great tutorial by the way!

    • Editorial Staff says

      We showed how to do it with custom fields, but that’s being done by key. But if you have the same key with multiple values, then you should get_post_custom_values function.


  11. Jim says

    I would like to do something where post one gets the class “1”, post two gets “2” post three gets “3”, and then it repeats this order, so post four gets “1” again.

    Any tips? it’s just repeating three different classes every three posts.

  12. Brit says

    What I’m trying to do specifically is just make it so when someone lands on my blog, that the thumbnail (which is just a circle with the post title) is a different color for ONLY the most recent post. I’m at a loss of how to make this happen. Everything I’ve found is category or order specific. Thoughts?

    • Editorial Staff says

      Brit, you would have to use the last method “Super Loop”. That is probably the only way of doing it because all what you would do is on the first post, you add a unique class such as “first-post” , and then style that using your CSS file.


  13. vajrasar says

    Well, that is a very good piece. I got what you said, but can you shed some light on how am gonna implement this on my Genesis driven News Child theme, as I am supposed to do all this with function.php

    I would like to style category specific posts differently. Thanks a lot for this piece. very informative.

    • Editorial Staff says

      So if you are just using the post class method, then Genesis has the field under their Layout settings for each post. You can enter a custom class and style it that way. The rest can get pretty complicated depending on all the hooks and such. We don’t necessary do genesis specific articles here.


  14. jim says

    What do you mean index.php in the loop. which index.php. Mine has nothing like yours. This is the 10th post I’ve read where no one has explained this basic concept properly. And what about the CSS. Last 10 posts didn’t explain that either. Internet is getting worse and worse.

    • Editorial Staff says

      Hey Jim,

      Every WordPress theme does things differently. The concept of loop is pretty well explained in the WordPress Codex. It requires a simple google search: Loop WordPress which will take you to:

      Because every theme varies, some utilize a separate loop.php file others are child themes which don’t even have index.php files. It is really hard to explain all of those concepts. When we put tutorials in a theme category, we expect the users to have a fair knowledge of how WordPress themes work (even if you don’t know PHP).


  15. gashface says

    Nevermind got that working, but NOW it doesn’t style each post differently, it just styles them all according to the first post author it finds?

  16. gashface says

    Is there a way to specificy a tag like H2 is styled by author I am trying .username h2{} for example but it won’t work?

  17. gashface says

    This doesn’t show the author with me just a blank space, pasted your exact code, any ideas? posts made by admin and are private, does that make a difference?

    • wpbeginner says

      @gashface not it doesn’t make a difference whether the post is private or public… If it is returning a white page, then you are pasting the code in a wrong place.

      • gashface says

        I realised it was because I was putting the code before the call to the loop, I thought you meant before the if have posts etc.. when it needs to go after that, thanks for the heads up

  18. KimeeDoherty says

    This was a little helpful, but I am still lost :( Not sure how to include the loop file in order to override the template. You started the <div> tag but not ended them, what’s inside the div? I’m lost :(

  19. Stuart says

    Hi, thanks for the ideas – especially the super loop – pleased to have got it working on my site.

    But I wonder, complete php beginner here, so is there a way to adapt the code so each subsequent page of posts doesn’t get the styling that posts 1, 2, 3, & 4 get on the first page.

    In other words, I only want the first four posts on the first page to look any different to the rest.


  20. Michael says

    If you wanted to use this approach to separate posts visually based on their published date. How would you go about it? For example: style the 5 posts published on the 1st with a black background, and then style the posts published on the 2nd with a red background? Thanks in advance!

  21. Dale says

    I am trying to style each authors name a different colour on our wordpress website and I have followed your code as below:

    Whilst this code is kind of working on my wordpress theme it is putting end quotation marks after class-2 but before the authors name so the class is being closed without the name in it. I only found this out by putting that php inside the body where you can see the full string.

    Does anyone have any ideas why this is happening?

    • Dale says

      Sorry it stripped out the php I posted but here is the class output of styling my posts by the authors name. The author here is called admin, and as you can see the closing tag is before the author name admin.

      “post-395 post type-post hentry category-uncategorized class-1 class-2″admin

  22. Adam W. Warner says

    Indeed a great post, hats off! However, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about when it’s time to upgrade the theme you’re making all these custom edits to. I try to use the functions file whenever possible to avoid overwrites.

    I would think it would be better to roll these loop edits into a function. I know that with Parent Themes like Thematic, Hybrid, Genesis, etc…that it’s possible (and advisable) to filter the loop and thus add these changes.

    @Ken – Maybe your plugin would negate the need for any functions altogether?

    Anyway, just my two cents and congrats Syed and the team on your continuing excellence on this site!

  23. Azad Shaikh says

    Very useful post indeed. Why don’t you publish some wordpress themes with your awesome ideas and functionality. I would be great success.


  24. Ken says

    Your article has giving me a few ideas on how to improve my plugin, thanks for that!

    I just wrote a plugin (Scripts n Styles) for adding CSS directly to the head element from the post/page editing screen. (Only admin users can do this though.) It’s not as robust (or rather, doesn’t address the same thing) as your solution because the CSS only appears on the single view, not in the lists (archives).

    I’m considering adding the functionality to include a class name into post_class, but via a meta box on the admin screen. Then, the admin would only have to add the css to his theme. (Or, perhaps a setting screen to facilitate this?)

    Anyway, the Super Loop seems useful for theming in general, I’ll have to include that in my next one!

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