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How to Create a Dropdown Menu in WordPress (Beginners Guide)

Do you want to make a dropdown menu and add it to your WordPress website?

A dropdown menu shows a list of links as you take your mouse over an item on the menu.

We use a dropdown menu on WPBeginner, go ahead and take your mouse over the navigation menu on top.

In this beginner’s guide, we will show you how to easily create a dropdown menu in WordPress with step by step instructions.

Creating a dropdown menu in WordPress

Why Use Dropdown Menus in WordPress?

WordPress comes with a built-in menu management system that allows you to easily add navigation menus to your WordPress site.

Navigation menus are links to the main pages of your website that usually appear on the top as a horizontal row right next to the website’s logo.

Typical navigation menu with a horizontal row of links

If you are starting a blog or creating a website with only a few pages, then you can add them in the single row.

However, if you run an online store or a large website, then you may want to add more links to the navigation menu.

Dropdown menus help you solve the limited space issue by showing menu links only when users bring their mouse over to a parent item. They also allow you to organize the menu structure by topics or hierarchy.

Dropdown menu example

Lastly, they look pretty nice too.

That being said, now let’s take a look at how you can easily create WordPress dropdown menus add them to your website.

Video Tutorial

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If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

Step 1. Choosing a Theme with Dropdown Menu Support

WordPress comes with a built-in menu management system but displaying those menus is entirely dependent on your WordPress theme.

Almost all WordPress themes support dropdown menus by default. However, some themes may not have proper menu support.

You need to make sure that you are using a WordPress theme that supports dropdown menus.

How do you know if the theme you are using supports the dropdown menu?

You can simply visit the theme’s website where you’ll find a link to the theme’s demo. From there you can see if the demo is showing a dropdown menu in the navigation menu.

If it is not, then you’ll need to find a WordPress theme that does.

See our guide on how to choose the perfect WordPress theme for your website.

Here are a few excellent themes that support the dropdown menu out of the box.

  • Astra – It is a multipurpose WordPress theme that comes with several starter sites and tons of features.
  • StudioPress themes – Built on top of genesis theme framework, these professional themes are highly optimized for performance.
  • OceanWP – A popular WordPress theme that is suitable for all kind of websites.
  • Ultra – Powered by Themify builder this drag and drop WordPress theme comes with beautiful templates and flexible theme options.
  • Divi – popular theme by Elegant Themes that uses the Divi page builder and comes with tons of drag & drop features including dropdown menus.

That being said, now let’s take a look at how to create a dropdown WordPress menu.

Step 1. Creating a Navigation Menu in WordPress

If you have already set up a navigation menu on your website, then you can skip to the next step.

Let’s create a simple menu first.

Go to Appearance » Menus page and click on the ‘Create a new menu’ link at the top.

Create a menu

Next, you need to provide a name for your navigation menu. This name will not be publicly visible on your website. The purpose of menu name is to help you identify the menu inside the WordPress admin area.

Menu name

Enter a name for your menu and then click on the ‘Create Menu’ button.

WordPress will now create a new empty menu for you.

Let’s add the top links to the navigation menu. These items will appear in the top row of your menu.

Simply select the pages you want to add from the left column and click on the ‘Add to menu’ button. You can also select blog posts, categories, or add custom links.

Add pages to menu

You will now see those pages appear in the right column under your new menu.

Step 2. Adding Sub-Items to a Menu

Sub-items are the items that will appear inside the dropdown menu. Depending on how you want to organize your menus, you can add them under any of the existing items.

For the sake of this tutorial, we will be adding categories under the blog link.

Simply select the items you want to add from the left column and then click on the ‘Add to menu’ button. Your items will now appear in the right column.

New menu items added to the menu

However, these links will appear as regular items. We need to make them a sub-item of a parent menu.

You can simply drag and drop a menu item and place it under the parent item. Move it slightly to the right, and it will become a sub-item.

Adding sub menu items to create a dropdown menu

Repeat the process for all links you want to show under the dropdown menu.

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

Step 3. Publish Your Dropdown Menu

If you are editing a menu that’s already live on your website, then it will start appearing on your website right away.

However, if it is a new menu item, then you now need to choose a theme location to display this menu.

WordPress themes can show menus at different locations. Each theme defines their own menu locations, and you can select which menu you want to display there.

You’ll find this option in the right column under ‘Menu settings’. Select an option next to the ‘Display location’ setting and click on the ‘Save menu’ button.

Choose theme location

You can now visit your website to see your dropdown menu in action.

Dropdown menu preview

Tips on Creating Interactive Dropdown Menus

Navigation menus are important because this is the first place your users will look if they want to see specific information.

Using them correctly will help your users find their way around your website. It will also help you get more pageviews, conversions, and sales on your website.

Here are a few tips on making your navigation menus more interactive with dropdown menus.

1. You can create multi-level dropdown menus

Making a link a sub-item of another link makes it appear in the dropdown menu. You can also add a sub-item below another sub-item to create multi-level dropdown menus.

Multi level menus

Your theme would automatically show them as a sub-menu inside the dropdown.

Multi-level dropdown menu

2. You can also create multiple dropdown menus

You can create a dropdown under any top link in your menu. You can even add multiple dropdown menus in your main navigation menu.

Multiple dropdown menus in the primary menu

3. Create menus with a live preview

If your menu gets too complicated, then you can switch to the visual preview. Go to Appearance » Customize to launch the live theme customizer.

From there, click on the ‘Menus’ tab and then select your navigation menu. You’ll now see a drag and drop menu editor in the left column with a live preview of your site in the right panel.

Customize WordPress menus with a live preview

4. Creating a large mega menu as dropdown in WordPress

The dropdown menus only show one dropdown at a time. What if you wanted to show the full structure of your website as a mega menu that only appears when users hover on the main menu?

Mega menu example

Mega menus do appear as a dropdown menu, but they can show a lot more links, sub-menus, and more. For detailed instructions, see our step by step tutorial on how to create a mega menu in WordPress.

We hope this article helped you learn how to easily create a dropdown menu in WordPress. You may also want to see our guide how to create a sticky floating navigation menu in WordPress and how to add image icons to navigation menus in WordPress.

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22 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hi,

    Im wondering how you can create a subitem that hovers into another subitem. You said in the video that you could subitem a subitem that shows it whenever you hover on the first subitem, but the your page shows all the subitems directly without hovering it.

    Im wondering how I can create a dropdown menu that has a subitem which also can be hovered over into more items.

    • As long as your theme has styling for it, you can do that by putting the items you want under the additional submenu another step to the right similar to how we do it in the animation. The menu item would then be further to the right and beneath the menu item in your menu.


  2. This was exactly the information I was looking for. I am completely new to WP & your site is a great resource.

  3. Hi, I am trying to create a dropdown menu under the toggles, and not under the main headings. Can this be done and how. Thanks so much.

    • If you mean you only want the dropdowns when someone clicks an arrow, that would be determined by the theme you are using. You would want to check with the support for your specific theme to see if that is an option.


  4. Hi!! Is there a way to make the main menu just a title for the sub menus and not a page you can access? I made an empty page so I can create a menu with sub menus, and it works, but you can click the main menu, which is an empty page, so I want it to just be a menu with no page.

    • You certainly can, the easiest method would be to create a page for each form and link to the pages in the menu.


  5. Great article.

    I wanted to do the same as KAM, and confirm the the custom link with # works!

  6. if my theme doesn’t support dropdown menu what can i do is there something or solutions to do without changing my the theme


    • You would want to reach out to the support for your specific theme to see if there are plans for adding support for it as a starting point.


  7. Thank you for this helpful post.

    How can I add sub items where the parent page is just a title and cannot be accessed as a page on the menu bar?


    Sports (not accessible as a page)
    (this is a page and viewable)
    (page and viewable)

    • You would want to be careful that you don’t confuse your users with a menu item that does not work but you can set a custom URL menu item to # for that.


  8. If I have a blog with all types of categories in it and I want to create a dropdown menu of each category in my single ‘‘ page. So how can I create a dropdown in one page?

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