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Add & Manage Menus on Your Blog

The Menus administration screen lets you create and edit navigation menus. You can change the order of menu items and create hierarchical frop-down menus, and add pages, posts, post categories, or links to external Web sites.

When planning your website's navigation, consider:

  • Depending on the theme activated on your site, new pages may be added automatically to your primary navigation, or you may need to configure menu settings before a navigation menu appears. 
  • Some themes have an option to "Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu." If you have more than four or five menu items, consider moving new pages into a sub-menu. 
  • Some themes provide more than one menu area. For example, there might be a standard navigation area (under the header), a secondary navigation area at the top of the header, or a social menu. Build a new menu to associate with each available menu location.
  • You can create a menu to use with a Custom Menus widget and show the menu in a widget area. See Manage Blog Plugins & Widgets.

Menus can be built and edited in two places on your WordPress Dashboard.  You can use the Customize panel (Appearance > Customize > Menus), which provides a live preview, or use the Menus panel (Apperance > Menus). The methods are interchangeable. These instructions are for the Dashboard Menu screen. Once you have the concept in hand, you may find the Customizer method more convenient.

Important:  For a menu to appear on your blog, you must complete Part Four: Choose a Location for the Menu (below).

Part One: Create a Menu

To create a new menu:

  1. On the Dashboard toolbar (at left), click Appearance, then Menus. The Menus administration screen will open. 
  2. Click create a new menu (at top) and enter a name for your menu. (The name will appear only on the Dashboard and not on your site.) Name each menu carefully to indicate it's purpose. Naming menus becomes especially important when your theme has multiple menu locations.
  3. (Optional, and theme dependent) To have all new top-level pages automatically added to the menu, check Automatically add new top-level pages. Note: Any existing pages will still have to be added manually (see Part Two: Add Menu Items, below), and, after adding new pages, you may want to return to the Menu screen to organize them your navigation scheme (see Part Three: Arrange Menu Items, below).
  4. Click Save Menu. A message appears instructing you to select menu items from the column at left.

Part Two: Add Menu Items

Once you have saved a Menu, you can add menu items from the Item type panel (at left), to the Menu panel (at right). Within any menu, you can combine pages, posts, post categories, or external links. Plugins may add additional item types.

Add Pages to a Menu

  1. In the left panel click Pages. Use the tabs (at top) to sort pages by Most Recent, View All, or Search. You may need to scroll through the box contents to see all pages.
    Note: When using the Menu administration screen, Pages must already be added to appear on the list. If you use the Customize (live preview) screen, you can add new, empty pages on the fly, then edit their content later.
  2. Select the Pages to add to your menu (or use the Select All link at bottom).
  3. At the bottom of the Pages box, click Add to Menu. A bar containing the Page title will appear in the Menu panel (at right).
  4. In the Menu panel, for each menu item, click the Arrow (at right) to open settings. Important options include:
    • Edit the Navigation Label (important for pages with long titles).
    • Re-order menu items using the Move links (up one, To the top, etc.), or drag and drop menu items into place (for more, see Part Three: Arrange Menu Items, below).
    • Remove the item from the menu.
  5. On the Menu Structure panel, click Save Menu.

Add Links to a Menu

You can a add a link to a page on another Web site to a menu.

  1. Click Custom Links (at left). The tab will expand to show an entry box.
  2. For URL, enter the Web site address for the Web page you will link to (we recommend you copy and paste the address from your browser's location bar).
  3. For Link Text, enter a title for the menu item (this will be the clickable text that appears in the menu).
  4. At the bottom of the Links box, click Add to Menu. A bar containing the Link title will appear in the Menu panel (at right).
  5. Click the Arrow (at right) on the bar to open the settings for the menu item. You can edit the Navigation Label or remove the item from the menu.
  6. Repeat the process to add additional links. Once you have finished adding links, on the Menu panel (at right), click Save Menu.

Add Post Categories to a Menu

Adding a Category to a menu will generate a blog page displaying the articles tagged with that category.  If you select a parent category, posts in any sub-categories will also be included on the blog page.

  1. Click Categories (at left). The tab will expand to list the Post Categories you have set up on your blog.  You can sort the list by Most Used or View All, or Search for a category name.
  2. Check the Categories to add to your menu.
  3. At the bottom of the Categories box, click Add to Menu. A bar for each Category added will appear in the Menu panel (at right).
  4. Click the Arrow on each bar to open settings. You can edit the Navigation Label, or remove the menu item from the menu.
  5. On the Menu panel (at right), click Save Menu.

Additional Item Types

If you have enabled certain plugins such as Carousel Slider, The Event Calendar, or WP Document Revisions, you may see additional item types in the left panel (e.g., Slides, Event Categories, or Revisions).

Part Three: Arrange Menu Items

Items in menus are displayed in alphabetical order. Once menu items have been added to a menu, you can change their order and make items into sub-items:

  1. To change the order of menu items, drag and drop items into a new order. (In horizontal menus such as top navigation bars, top-to-bottom translates into left-to-right.)
  2. To make an item into a sub-item, drag one menu item under a another item, then drop it a little to the right. The bar for the item will appear indented.
    screenshot of a heirarchical menu  (click to enlarge)
    • In horizontal navigation bars, main items appear from left to right. If you click or mouse-over a main item (depending on the theme), a drop-down menu appears, with sub-items below, and sub-sub-items indented to the right.
    • In sidebars or widgets, depending on the theme, sub-items usually display as an indented list.
  3. When you have finished arranging your menu items, click Save Menu.

Part Four: Choose a Location for the Menu

Unless you plan to display your custom menu using a Custom Menu widget, you need to select a Menu location in order for the menu to appear on your blog. (If using a Custom Menu widget, skip this part and see Manage Blog Plugins & Widgets.)
Important: Because menu locations vary from theme to theme, you need to reset your menu location(s) every time you change themes.

  1. At the top of the Menus screen, click the Manage Locations tab. The screen will change to list available menu locations  (at left), and a drop down of saved Menus (at right). Note: Some themes support only one menu location (e.g., Primary Navigation).
  2. For each Menu Location select a saved menu from its drop-down. To leave a  menu location unused, set its drop-down to —Select a Menu—.

  3. At the bottom of the Manage Locations screen, click Save Changes.

Optional: Create an Unlinked Item at the Top of a Drop-Down

Rather than link to a page at the top of a sub-menu, you can create an unclickable menu item that names a topic for the sub-menu items.

  1. Click Custom Links (at left). The tab will expand to show an entry box
  2. For URL, delete "http://" and enter a pound symbol: #.
  3. For Link Text, enter a topic name for the sub-menu items that will appear below the item.
  4. At the bottom of the Links box, click Add to Menu.
  5. In the Menu panel, drag the new item into position above its sub-menu items, and ensure the sub-menu items are indented.
  6. Click Save Menu.