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How to Create Custom RSS Feeds in WordPress

WordPress comes with built-in default RSS feeds. You can tweak the default feeds by adding custom content to your RSS Feeds, or even adding post thumbnail to your RSS Feeds. The default RSS and Atom feeds are enough for most users, but you may wish to create a custom RSS feed for delivering specific type of content. In this article, we will show you how to create custom RSS feeds in WordPress.

Please note that this tutorial is not intended for beginner level WordPress users. If you are a beginner, and still want to try it, then please do so on a local install.

As always, you must create a complete backup of your WordPress website before making any major changes to a live website.

Having said that, let’s get started with your first custom RSS feed in WordPress.

Let’s assume you want to create a new RSS feed which displays just the following information:

  • Title
  • Link
  • Published Date
  • Author
  • Excerpt

First thing you need to do is create the new RSS feed in your theme’s functions.php file or in a site-specific plugin:

add_action('init', 'customRSS');
function customRSS(){
        add_feed('feedname', 'customRSSFunc');

The above code triggers the customRSS function, which adds the feed. The add_feed function has two arguments, feedname, and a callback function. The feedname will make up your new feed url and the callback function will be called to actually create the feed. Make a note of the feedname, as you’ll need this later on.

Once you have initialized the feed, you’ll need to create the callback function to produce the required feed, using the following code in your theme’s functions.php file or in a site specific plugin:

function customRSSFunc(){
        get_template_part('rss', 'feedname');

The code above is using the get_template_part function to link to a separate template file, however you can also place the RSS code directly into the function. By using get_template_part, we can keep the functionality separate to the layout. The get_template_part function has two arguments, slug and name, that will look for a template file with the name in the following format, starting with the file at the top (if it doesn’t find the first, it will move on to the second, and so on):

  1. wp-content/themes/child/rss-feedname.php
  2. wp-content/themes/parent/rss-feedname.php
  3. wp-content/themes/child/rss.php
  4. wp-content/themes/parent/rss.php

For the purposes of this tutorial, it is best to set the slug to the type of feed you’re creating (in this case: rss), and the name to the feedname configured earlier on.

Once you’ve told WordPress to look for the feed template, you’ll need to create it. The below code will produce the layout for the feed with the information we listed earlier. Save this file in your theme folder as the slug-name.php template file configured in the get_template_part function.

 * Template Name: Custom RSS Template - Feedname
$postCount = 5; // The number of posts to show in the feed
$posts = query_posts('showposts=' . $postCount);
header('Content-Type: '.feed_content_type('rss-http').'; charset='.get_option('blog_charset'), true);
echo '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="'.get_option('blog_charset').'"?'.'>';
<rss version="2.0"
        <?php do_action('rss2_ns'); ?>>
        <title><?php bloginfo_rss('name'); ?> - Feed</title>
        <atom:link href="<?php self_link(); ?>" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" />
        <link><?php bloginfo_rss('url') ?></link>
        <description><?php bloginfo_rss('description') ?></description>
        <lastBuildDate><?php echo mysql2date('D, d M Y H:i:s +0000', get_lastpostmodified('GMT'), false); ?></lastBuildDate>
        <language><?php echo get_option('rss_language'); ?></language>
        <sy:updatePeriod><?php echo apply_filters( 'rss_update_period', 'hourly' ); ?></sy:updatePeriod>
        <sy:updateFrequency><?php echo apply_filters( 'rss_update_frequency', '1' ); ?></sy:updateFrequency>
        <?php do_action('rss2_head'); ?>
        <?php while(have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
                        <title><?php the_title_rss(); ?></title>
                        <link><?php the_permalink_rss(); ?></link>
                        <pubDate><?php echo mysql2date('D, d M Y H:i:s +0000', get_post_time('Y-m-d H:i:s', true), false); ?></pubDate>
                        <dc:creator><?php the_author(); ?></dc:creator>
                        <guid isPermaLink="false"><?php the_guid(); ?></guid>
                        <description><![CDATA[<?php the_excerpt_rss() ?>]]></description>
                        <content:encoded><![CDATA[<?php the_excerpt_rss() ?>]]></content:encoded>
                        <?php rss_enclosure(); ?>
                        <?php do_action('rss2_item'); ?>
        <?php endwhile; ?>

This template code will generate an RSS feed following the above layout. The postCount variable allows you to control the number of posts to display in your feed. The template can be amended as required to display whatever information you require (e.g. post images, comments, etc).

The the_excerpt_rss function will display the excerpt of each post, and for posts that do not have excerpts, it will display the first 120 words of the post’s content.

Finally, to display your feed, you’ll first need to flush your WordPress rewrite rules. The easiest way to do this is by logging in to the WordPress admin, and clicking Settings -> Permalinks. Once here, just click Save Changes, which will flush the rewrite rules.

You can now access your new feed at, where feedname was the feedname you gave in the add_feed function earlier on.

The W3C offers a feed validation service, allowing you to validate the resulting feed.


  • I’m getting a 404 error when trying to view my feed!
    • Check to see if you are using the correct feedname in your URL. It has to be the one you supplied in the add_feed function
    • If you have the correct feedname, your rewrite rules may not have flushed correctly. Re-save your permalinks just to be sure.
    • If you’ve re-saved your permalinks, you can force a rewrite flush via your theme’s functions.php file. Add the following code to the customRSS function we created earlier. Make sure you add the code after the add_feed function.
    • global $wp_rewrite;
    • Once you’ve added this, reload your WordPress site. NOTE: This should be removed immediately after use. Once is enough for the rules to be flushed.
  • My feed isn’t validating!
    • Using the W3C feed validator, specific details should be given where your feed isn’t validating. Edit the feed template file to resolve these issues
  • I’m getting a <language /> validation error!
    • This is common where the RSS language has not been configured on your WordPress installation. To do this, you can add the following code to your theme’s functions.php file, to update the language option.
    • function rssLanguage(){
              update_option('rss_language', 'en');
      add_action('admin_init', 'rssLanguage');
    • Edit the second argument of the update_option function to change the language to one you require. Check out the full list of RSS Language Codes.
    • Once the above code has been added to your functions file, load the WordPress admin screen for it to take effect. After this, the code should be removed from your WordPress functions file. Loading it once is enough to configure the rss_language setting.
    • This can also be done directly in the database, by looking for the rss_language option in the wp_options table.

We hope this article helped you create your own custom RSS Feeds in WordPress. Let us know how and why you will be using custom RSS feeds on your WordPress site by leaving a comment below.

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Reader Interactions

66 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Is there any way to make this permanent? I keep having to repeat this step every few weeks when the theme is updated.

  2. is there any plugin to do this kind of custom rss feed XML? I want to use my own tag xml.

    • We do not have a recommended plugin at this time, we will be sure to keep an eye out.


  3. I need to create an XML feed for a specific page on my WordPress website. Here is the page will I have to edit my functions.php file or is there an easier way?

  4. Hello,

    This article is very helpful but I got some issue.

    I did exactly like in your code. But it gives me an error as
    This page contains the following errors:

    error on line 1 at column 7: XML declaration allowed only at the start of the document
    Below is a rendering of the page up to the first error.

    Could you please help me out what could possibly go wrong here?
    This is very important for me.

    Thank you.

  5. Hi, is it possible to change de order of the posts in my feeds without creating a new custom feed? I want to use the current feed files but just want to change the displayed order of theme. Using PHP queries as an example, changing order from DESC to RAND()

    I will appreciate you help. Thanks.

  6. Great post! I definitely fall under the rookie status. Many feed readers/aggregators don’t seems to like the /feed/ URL structure, even through the xml returned validates. Is there a way to append the url to end with rss.xml?

  7. Sorry to say, however, implementing the codes for custom rss has effectively wiped out my entire blog. Having to do a restore and it is taking a long time to get my blog back up. Any advise?

    • You need to connect to your site via FTP or your hosting’s file browser in cPanel, and simply remove what you added. If you added the code as a custom plugin, then just rename the plugin folder. If you added the code in functions.php, edit the file and remove the code. Don’t forget to backup the file before editing. Hope this helps for the next time.

  8. Never mind, it does. I had a bug with YOAST SEO that with the /category/ prefix removal. I have warned them of it I hope they will fix it.

  9. Hello, thank you for the article, but it seems this will only work for the main site feed, not for the specific catgories feeds:

  10. Doesn’t work anymore.
    I got a 404 error, so I activated debug mode. Debug mode says “Notice: The Called Constructor Method For WP_Widget Is Deprecated Since Version 4.3.0! Use __construct()”

  11. unfortunately this is restricted in its usefulness. inserting screenshots and sample pages would be very helpful, particularly for amateurs/rookies like me.

  12. Please see below screenshots – what determines the “…” or “[…]” or “Read More ->” etc etc in feeds?

    I’m using the default /feed in 2 different WP sites & these 2 screenshots obviously are showing something different at the end of their excerpts. Thanks!

  13. Apologizes but that code did not come through clear lol. Lets try that again. Go here to see the exact, raw code I’m looking to remove:

  14. Hey, I want to exclude certain post_formats from my custom rss feed. Is that possible and if so, how?

  15. Hello,

    When I try to view the feed I got 404 Page not found error. I am trying to add code:

    global $wp_rewrite;

    then I also got same error. Could this be why?

    • Got it to work neatly thanks to birgire at Stack exchange:

      add_action( ‘init’, ‘custom_feeds’ );

      function custom_feeds()
      foreach( array( ‘feedname1’, ‘feedname2’ ) as $name )
      add_feed( $name,
      function() use ( $name )
      get_template_part( ‘rss’, $name );

  16. The “follow” button shows up at the bottom right corner when viewing posts on a personal computer, but does not appear when viewing on a mobile devise (smartphone) (unless I’m just missing it.

  17. Sorry, but everything about this is misleading. this is not “beginner” work. and it is not worded for beginners. This is totally irresponsible and can cause major issues to people’s websites.

  18. I got this working (kind of). The feed page exists, but will not validate and says there is an error on line 1.

    I copied the code exactly from this page and haven’t changed anything. What could be going wrong here?

    • W3 will not validate mine as well and says there is an error on line 17.

      And I am getting the 404 page!

      What should I do?

  19. Hello,

    Please i need help in configuring my rss to show all my post content on not just an excerpt of it.

    Thank you.

  20. Hello,
    I need to show only date without time for pubDate. When I use

    It’s doesn’t work for firefox,IE.
    Can you help me?

    Thank you in advance!

  21. Hi.

    I would like to change the update pattern of the feed with

    echo apply_filters( ‘rss_update_period’, ‘weekly’ );

    echo apply_filters( ‘rss_update_frequency’, ‘1’ );


    But whatever I tried, it automatically adds a new post when I publish it and does not wait till Sunday ( as defined in the code above) to add it to the RSS.

    Do you have any suggestions? Do I maybe need to find a solution within the WP Query?

    Your help would be much appriciated.

  22. Hi.

    I would like to change the update pattern of the feed with


    But whatever I tried, it automatically adds a new post when I publish it and does not wait till Sunday ( as defined in the code above) to add it to the RSS.

    Do you have any suggestions? Do I maybe need to find a solution within the WP Query?

    Your help would be much appriciated.

  23. Hi.I try to do as your mention but I’ve seen my site cannot access to the feed page.This is My site I try to use /feed and a lot of word which is mention in or even in the google.Please help me.

  24. What determines that the feed will be displayed at feed/feedname? I have tried to follow the tutorial, but not luck at all. The feed is not publishing at feed/feedname.php

  25. Following these exact steps I got this error:

    Fatal error: Cannot redeclare get_bloginfo_rss() (previously
    declared in
    in /home/public_html/wp-content/themes/xxx/rss-name.php on line 39

  26. Hi,

    My feed is OK when this code is added:

    global $wp_rewrite;

    and returns a 404 when it is removed.
    I only remove it as per your instructions, which is to remove it after reloading wordpress.

    At this moment I am testing it on my local server. Could this be why?

  27. Hi there. Thanks for this post! Really appreciated. Worked well at first go! :)

    I would also like some assistance as Brian below. For the full text in the RSS instead of the post excerpt.

    Thanks in advance.

  28. I am trying to add a second RSS feed that is full text (my first RSS feed is summary). If I wanted this custom RSS feed to be full text instead of summary excerpt, what would I change?

    Thanks so much!

  29. Thanks for this. Just what I was looking for!

    I had an issue when I used add_feed(). I could view the RSS feed in the browser absolutely fine, but it would return a 404 when I entered the URL into a third party application (ie. MailChimp, W3C feed validator etc). I had tried flushing the permalinks etc.

    The only way I could get round the issue was to create a new blank page and select the template as the one you’ve outlined in this article.

    Not sure why it didn’t work, but hopefully this offers a viable solution for others in this situation.

    Thanks again!

  30. Your article is right on the path of what I was looking for. One question I have (as a noob to RSS), how can I add a link to an RSS feed?
    The site that I need this for is a church and would like to have a custom feed that would make it easier for our members to be alerted to newly posted sermon posts (that have mp3 download links).
    Currently, the feed shows the text for the links that I have created on the posts for the sermons. But it only acts as text. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Just noticed that I didn’t ask my question correctly.
      What I was trying to ask was, how can I display a link in the RSS Feed? The links that are in the content of my posts are broken in the feed.
      Thanks for your help and this article.

    • Still curious, if anyone knows why my links would be broken and only show as plain text in a feed?
      To see what I mean checkout:
      You will see “Download” in plain text. I would like to make it so that people can click the anchor link and download the mp3. This works find on the actual site.

      Thanks for any help.

  31. Hi, I have the default rss feed.. but I would like to be able to either reduce the size of the images from what is displayed in the post…. (to a maximujm width of 265px) OR to just use the post thumbnail in the rss.

    Is either of the above possible?

    The reason I am looking to do this is that my RSS feeds an APP and the APP will only display images up to 265px in width (before horizontal scrolling) and 265px is very limiting for online/pc blog posts…

  32. Thank you for this! I am making a custom RSS location part of a plugin I’m developing. As a result, I have included the text for the custom RSS in the function, not in a theme template. It’s working. However, it does not seem to work when I want to restrict the feed to a category. It gives all posts regardless. Any thoughts?

    • try changing

      $posts = query_posts('showposts=' . $postCount);


      $posts = query_posts('showposts=' . $postCount.'&category_name=staff');

      Replace category_name with your category name.


      • Hi Guys. How can I use this to exclude three categories from my new custom feed? What do you suggest?

  33. Hello,

    Thank you, these explanations are really useful. I just used it to customize my feed so I could put an image in mailchimp’s “RSS to email” feature.

    Thank you very much !

  34. Hello,

    Till yesterday afternoon, my WordPress (version 3.6.1) blog had no problem. And I successfully added new plugins.

    In the night, problems started: (1) I could not login. (2) the RSS feed got corrupted. The feed failed validation.

    I searched the Web and WordPress Support Forum for solutions. I tried the following:
    (i) successfully reset the password
    (ii) deleted new plugins from ftp
    (iii) renamed Theme folder by adding “-old” and plugin folder by adding “-hold” from ftp

    Then I could login and up grade to 3.7.1 version and make changes to the blog.

    However, login is still an issue. Every time I am following method mentioned in step (iii) to login.

    RSS still does not validate.

    Could you help in resolving both login and RSS feed problems?

    Note: My webhost does not offer technical help. I am not an IT professional i.e. I have very little technical knowledge.


    • It is difficult to figure out. Here is one thing you can try.

      1. Using FTP download your plugins to your computer for backup and then delete your plugins directory.
      2. Create a new plugins directory.
      3. Install and all your plugins one by one by downloading fresh copy of the plugin from the source. After you activate each plugin log out and and log back in to see if the problem occurs again. You will probably find a plugin that may be causing the problem or you wont. This could mean that a plugin file on your site may have been compromised.

      If this process does not help you, repeat this process process with your themes as well. If you have made a lot of changes to your existing themes then you might want to back it up on your computer by downloading theme folder through FTP. Then delete themes folder from your webserver and create a new themes directory in wp-content folder on your server. From WordPress admin area download and install a fresh copy of default twenty thirteen theme.

      Let us know what happens when you do all that. Make Sure to Backup your Site first.


  35. Hello,

    When I try to open the new feed, I get an error message:

    Fatal error: Call to undefined function query_posts() in /xxxx/wp-content/themes/xxx/rss-feedname.php on line 6

    I tried on localhost and web hosting, it is the same…

    How can I fix it?


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