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How to Display Subcategories on Category Pages in WordPress

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Do you want to display subcategories on category pages in WordPress?

WordPress makes it easy to organize your posts using categories and subcategories. You can help your visitors navigate subcategories more easily by displaying them on category pages.

In this article, we will show you how to display subcategories on category pages in WordPress.

Display Subcategories on Category Pages in WordPress

Why Display Subcategories on Category Pages?

When you write posts for your WordPress website, you can optimize for search engines and improve site navigation by categorizing content properly. This will bring more traffic to your site and allow visitors to find the content they are looking for more easily.

On some websites, it makes sense to use subcategories to simplify the site’s structure.

For example, you might have a top-level (parent) category called Sports. You can then have subcategories under Sports called NFL, NBA, and MLB.

Example of Using Subcategories in WordPress

When your visitors click on the Sports category, they will see every post in the Sports category and its subcategories. However, they won’t see the list of subcategories. That makes it difficult to filter down to just the NFL or NBA posts.

Displaying a list of subcategories on your category pages can improve site navigation. That’s particularly true if you decide to hide subcategories in your website’s category widget.

Show Only Top Level Categories

Then, for example, visitors to your site can easily move from all Sports posts to just NFL. Better still, you can continue to display the same subcategories on the NFL page so they can easily switch from NFL to NBA.

That being said, let’s look at how to display subcategories on category pages in WordPress.

How to Display Subcategories on Category Pages in WordPress

To display subcategories on your category archive pages, you’ll need to add code to your theme files. If you need help adding code to your site, then refer to our beginner’s guide on how to paste snippets from the web into WordPress.

The first thing you need to do is go inside your theme’s folder and look for your category archive file called category.php.

If you don’t see that file, then you will have to create it. Simply duplicate archive.php and name it category.php.

Note: If your theme doesn’t include category.php or archive.php, then you are probably using a WordPress theme framework and will have to create category.php manually. A good starting point for learning how to create archive files is our guide on how to create custom archive pages in WordPress.

Now, simply add the following code to category.php just before the loop:

if (is_category()) {
    $this_category = get_category($cat);
    $this_category = wp_list_categories('orderby=id&show_count=0
    "&echo=0"); else
    $this_category = wp_list_categories('orderby=id&depth=1&show_count=0
    if ($this_category) { ?> 
<?php echo $this_category; ?>
<?php } ?>
Add the Code Snippet to category.php Just Before the Loop

Now when you visit a category page, you will see a list of subcategories.

On our demo site, the Sports category page shows links to the NFL, NBA, and MLB subcategories.

Preview of Subcategories on Category Page

When you click on the NFL link, you are taken to the NFL subcategory page.

Here you can still see the links to the Sports subcategories, so you can easily switch between the different types of sports. This can really simplify navigation on your site.

Preview of Subcategories on Subcategory Page

Expert Guides on Categories and Subcategories in WordPress

Now that you know how to display subcategories on category pages, you may like to see some other guides related to displaying categories and subcategories in WordPress.

We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to display subcategories on category pages in WordPress. You may also want to learn how to improve your website’s SEO or our expert pick of the best WordPress popup plugins.

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Reader Interactions

74 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. George G. says


    I use a theme which does not contain the category.php file. Categories and posts are shown throush a archive.php in which file is located into a plugin framework that comes together with this theme.

    • Nelda says

      This is a problem many people run into when they don’t look closely at what their theme provides. I would recommend choosing a different theme and this time look for categories with layers, tags, modifiable menus, block editor, and mobile responsive. Many exist for free that provide these basic functions. It is much easier to move forward and continue to enhance your site using a theme that is supportive of the flexibility you seek, rather than tweak a theme that doesn’t meet your needs out of the box. You will be tweaking continuously in the future, and that is not fun, trust me!!

      This site has posts about responsive themes and the features they provide and after you choose a better theme, here is the link to swap it out. It is a very simple process.

  3. Jameel Evans says

    I pasted this code into my category.php file, but when I go to it’s not showing. Any suggestions?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You would want to ensure the code is before the loop in your category.php and if it it placed there correctly then you would want to check with the support for your specific theme to see if they have something that would override the usual display.


  4. Sarah says

    I inserted this code via the Code Snippets plugin, which has worked successfully with inserting other code, but now I have what I found out is called the ‘white screen of death’! Even on my website page ending in /wp-admin.

    Does anyone know how to fix this when I can’t see my admin dashboard?

  5. Ahmad says

    this code does not work that exactly I want, I want a proper arrangement of categories like navigation.
    Parent category
    Grandchild 1
    Grandchild 2
    subchild 1
    sibling categories

  6. Jagdev says


    How can we use this for custom post taxonomy created ?

    I want to list the main categories first then sub-categories and sub etc.. untill reach upto post pages?

    Can we change this code for custom post categories?


  7. Pradeep PL says

    But, Not to hide Parent Category, when I click on subcategory page. I want to show all the subcategory in Parent category as well as in subcategory also.

  8. Sveinung Berntsen says

    Thanks for this great post. I have managed to make a filter for my category page with this code. But I would like to have a link to show all posts in the main category; if you clicked on one of the subcategory filter links, and want to go back to see all posts for the main category. Kind of like this:
    All (20) Subcategory 1 (12) Subcategory 2 (5). Subcategory 3 (3)

    Is that possible? And how can I get the number as a part of the link?

  9. Julie-Ann says


    I don’t know anything about coding. I would really like to add subcategories to my wordpress blog so that I can organise my content better. Where do I paste this code to make it work? What exactly will happen. I would like to understand this a bit more please if you are able to assist.

  10. Amanda says

    I know this is an old post but it is exactly what I am after for a current project.
    Is there anyway to have an image show up with the category.
    I have used this plugin in the past to add an image to a category – Categories Images

    <?php if( function_exists('z_taxonomy_image') AND get_option('z_taxonomy_image'.$cat_id)” ) z_taxonomy_image($cat_id); ?>

    I am just not sure how to implement it with your code.

  11. Lambodar says


    Thanks for the code.

    I have Category Structure like:

    Main Category: Home Improvement
    Child Category: Roofing
    Grand Category: Gutters

    On this page: I want to show all child categories, which is fine it displays all.

    On this page: I want to show all grand child categories, but it show all child categories.

    On this page: I want to show nothing, as this is the last

    Pls let me know how to fix it.

    I used your code like this:

    $this_category = wp_list_categories(‘orderby=id&show_count=0&hide_empty=0&title_li=&use_desc_for_title=1&child_of=’.$this_category->category_parent.
    “&echo=0”); else
    $this_category = wp_list_categories(‘orderby=id&depth=1&show_count=0&hide_empty=0&title_li=&use_desc_for_title=1&child_of=’.$this_category->cat_ID.
    if ($this_category) { ?>

  12. Jay says

    Call me stupid but where do we put this code, in header.php, index.php. functions.php?

    FYI I have a page where they click an image in the main page and it takes them (currently) to a main category.

    my goal is when they click the image it takes them to a page listing the sub cats for the cat, this will allow sorting of the posts!

  13. Smith says

    is it possible to display posts on category pages as subcategory wise using this.

    Example :

    ** Main Category Page **

    ** Sub category #1 **
    – Post #1
    – Post #2

    ** Subcategory #2 **
    – Post #3
    – Post #4

  14. Monique says

    Since wp 4.0 I get the following error if debug is true:

    Notice: get_all_category_ids is niet meer in gebruik sinds versie4.0! Gebruik in plaats daarvan get_terms(). in

    This is the dutch error, in english it says it is depreceated. How can the code be adjusted so it works with the new standard?

  15. Joe Librizzi says

    Thanks for this, but changing orderby argument doesn’t seem to be having any impact on the actual displayed order. Has anyone else had a similar issue? Any solutions?

  16. Katia says

    Thank you for this helpful post.
    I need to exclude some of the categories , so those will not show . How can I do that?

  17. Catalin says


    I need some help with the script above. I have a Category list of countries like USA, UK, Italy, France etc. and each country it will have cities as sub categories.
    This script works great, when i click on Italy the cities sub categories appear in the side bar, however when a click on page or inside a post the cities disappear and it show only the country in the side bar.
    How can I modify so when i click over a post inside the cities remain and when i click on a page like About or Home the cities to disappear? Also I use Hueman theme and i will need the cities to appear in the header menu. How much do you charge for that? E-mail me at kid_punky @

  18. sourabh nigam says

    i am using jigoshop plugin for e-eCommerce clothing website
    in the jigoshop category add
    it has also sub category
    i want to display main category in sidebar and when click on category then sub category should be display;

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Mitul, for CSS you can view it in the source, feel free to play with it. You can use conditional tags in your template to show your sub categories differently or you can create a new template for the subcategory.


  19. pustiu314p says

    I use your code with success, and thanls for that.
    I have a little trouble: I removed “depth=”1″ from code but the main category does not appear in sidebar. only subcategories.
    How can I display both the parent category and subcategories?
    Thank you.

  20. rob_mod says

    Hi. Will this work with WordPress 3.3.1?

    Also, this question might seem silly, but I want to double check:

    This code will allow subcategories specific to the category page you’re on to appear in the sidebar, correct? Phrased another way: I’m on the homepage. I click on the main navigation which says “Illinois.” That takes me to a (category) archive page for Illinois, that has a sidebar. In that sidebar is: Chicago, Evanston, Skokie (subcategories). Now, If clicked on “New York” in the main navigation, I’d go to a (category) archive page for New York, and in the right hand column for that page would be: NYC, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester.

    Am I correct, or am I misunderstanding the application?

    Thanks so much!

  21. VandeMataram says

    comment is not posted correctly … so putting it again:


    Sub-category-1, Sub-category-2, Sub-category-3, Sub-category-4, Sub-category-5,

    Sub-category-6, Sub-category-7, and so on ………….

  22. VandeMataram says

    I want to show list of sub-categories in main category archive page, for example:

    <Main Category>

    <sub-category-1>, <sub-category-2>, <sub-category-3>, <sub-category-4>, <sub-category-5>, <sub-category-6>, and so on …

    I have copied the same code provided in this article, but it’s not working … nothing is displaying in category page.

    Please help.

  23. robolist says

    Hi there, I am hoping there is a fix for what i am trying to do as i cant seem to find a solution anywhere.

    what i have is several sub-categories under a main category. but the second tier categories are not child categories of the main. only the sub categories under the second tier are child. but i still want to contain the loop of those categories on the main category, but essentially it will never have a post nor a child. I managed to find the filter to display a loop of the categories below it, but the page only appears if there is one post in that category…

    LOL, this all sound rather complicated when i say it out loud haha… I hope you get what i am talking about.

    In short i want to have the category page displayed even without and posts under it. I am using a custom theme and template files for each category.

    Hope someone has the answer. :)


    • wpbeginner says

      @robolist What’s the point of having a category with no post under it? It seems like it shouldn’t even be there. Perhaps you want to elaborate, so we can see what you are doing with that category. Maybe an alternative route should be taken.

      • robolist says

        @wpbeginner thanks for getting back so fast :)

        ok so the reason is because i dont want the main category to appear in the URL structure. although the final URL for the post will be different. The main category will be something like ‘destinations’ then under that will have countries. with each country having a child city then posts under the city. so the main menu will display ‘destinations’ with a loop of all posts under that. then under that in the sub menu will be the country then city. with both country and city containing a loop of its respective by the time you get to the city landing page i dont want the URL to be ‘.com/destinations/country/city/ ‘ i want it to be ‘.com/country/city/’

        You see my dilemma?

        • wpbeginner says

          @robolist It seems like there is a better way.Wouldn’t it make more sense to eliminate destination category altogether. Create a page called Destinations – use custom page template to have it output all categories that WordPress has using wp_list_categories() function. Now you will still have the urls like .com/country/city/And when the user goes on a page like .com/destinations/ << They can still see all the countries listed there. Does that make sense? If it doesn’t, then maybe we don’t understand what you are trying to do.

        • robolist says

          @wpbeginner that does sound better and makes sense… But i am not familiar with the wp_list_categories() function, although i have seen it around. This could be the one. thanks so much for your help, i will go and give that a try :) thanks so much…

          thanks also for all your amazing tutorials on this site…

        • wpbeginner says

          @robolist wp_list_categories() is a very simple and powerful function. will let you display your categories anywhere in a custom page template. So create a custom page template. In the template area paste the codewp_list_categories(); Make sure to set child=0 if you don’t want to show your cities in there. As I presume, you will only want to display the countries there. Then once a user clicks on a country, they go and see all the cities. Style it to your liking and there you have it.

        • robolist says


          hey guys, thanks so much for your advice last night, it worked a treat :). I am however stuck on the permalink structure now and would be very grateful if you and any tips for me again :)

          My final post is now at the end of a three tier category structure, ‘continent/country/city/post/’ (destinations as you recommended is now a page). But for the final URL of the post i dont want it to be four deep and would prefer it to only be three deep. so the permalink that i would like is country/city/post/… Is there anyway i can remove the top level parent category from the permalink structure? at the moment i have it set up like this ‘/%category%/%postname%-%post_id%/’ But it automatically grabs all parent categories. , Do i have to again make the top category a page or is there a better way round this? Many thanks in advance for your help


        • wpbeginner says

          @robolist You can write some permalink rewrite rules, but that is a bit harder than making the top category a page. Easy solution: make continent a page.Hard solution: rewrite permalink rule.Honestly, do you need continents? most folks don’t really look by North America or South America… They just look for countries…

        • robolist says

          @wpbeginner Thanks for getting back to me.

          Well having the continents does help to organise the blog as it will get pretty big eventually, its more like regions really, not exactly continents, which is why I’d prefer to include them . I would love to learn how to do the rewrite rule because that way i wont have to be constantly adding extra category IDs to the region pages every time a new city/country is added. The way i have it set with the destinations is perfect because i will never add any more regions so i never have to touch that page again,:) as it stands there are 9 regions thats it., but countries and cities will be added over time

          i dont suppose you could point me in the right direction for the rewrite? :) I would be ever so grateful

          Many thanks for all your help so far

        • wpbeginner says

          @robolist Rewrite requires writing custom codes and which is something we charge for. You can look at google for your guide or look in the WordPress core if you like tackling code.

        • robolist says

          @wpbeginner I would love to hire you guys but just dont have a budget for that :(, plus i would love to learn how to do it myself. but thanks so much for all the help you have given me on this. if i do fail at my attempt then i will just go for the simple way out and create pages for the regions. thanks again :)

  24. sdiggles says

    Did you ever get this? I am trying to accomplish the same thing right now. Only show subcategories on category pages if there are subcategories. That “No categories” stuff is killing me.

  25. Seosphere says

    Hi ! sorry for my english.

    I would like to use your code, but not on the sidebar. When i click on a main category, i would like to find on the nav. bar the sub menu instead to have the main menu.

    Sorry but i m not a developper, where do i have to paste your code ?

    In category.php ? :(

    Thank you

  26. Aleksandr says

    The code is not finished.

    if ($this_category) {
    //There is must be a code
    //to show the list of subcategories.

    Something like that:
    if ($this_category) {
    printf( $this_category );

    P.S. working on «Twenty Ten» 3.0.1

  27. Rachel says

    This code is exactly what I need, only I want to use it in the actual category.php content section, not in the sidebar. Anyway, I pasted it in and I get a parse error. Is there something missing at the end of the code snippet?

  28. Karl B says

    This is a great starting point for me as I had been searching high and low for this.

    I wondered if there was a way to elaborate on this and allow say, 1 post title and excerpt then 4 more titles from each subcategory, displayed in a div.

    I have been trying to find a way to do this for months but have never found anyone able to assist. I even offered a small payment but no-one came forward :)

    Thanks if anyone can offer any advice :)


  29. Jacqueline says

    Hi, thanks so much for this code and I have it working on my template. How would I prevent this entire code from running if a category has NO children? If there are no children, it creates an empty list and prints the text “No Categories.” Here’s how I had it setup with Yoast’s code:

    cat_ID) != “”) { ?>


    If there were no subcategories, nothing would show up. Your code is better, but I need it to only show up ONLY if there are subcategories. How would I achieve this? Thanks for any suggestions.

  30. Victor says

    Thanks for posting this. I got my posts displaying fine, but had forgotten about the sub cats…it makes more sense this way.

  31. Nick says


    I’m trying to accomplish this in the sidebar, only instead of links, I want to list recent posts in subcategories.

    and of course, this would occur in all category and subcategory pages, as well as single posts.

    Don’t know if this is possible. But, I’ve been looking around like crazy, and not being a programmer isn’t helping either.

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