Adding content to WordPress sidebars and footers

In the theme we’re using, Twenty Eleven, sidebars only appear in web pages, not blog posts.

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We can add content to the sidebar of pages or the footer area of posts and pages. To do this we drag small applications called widgets in to a sidebar box or footer box and then configure or set up these widgets to display the information the way we choose. The way you add content to the sidebar, showcase sidebar and footer areas is the same.

Here’s how to set up widgets.

Make sure your page is using a template with a sidebar. Open the page you want to display a sidebar on and look in the Page Attributes box. Choose Sidebar Template. In the theme we’re using, Twenty Eleven, blog posts don’t have sidebars.

Page Attributes

Go to Appearance > Widgets. In the top right hand of your screen look for Main Sidebar. Click the small arrow in the right of this dialogue box to expand it.

Appearance Widgets

Open the sidebar box

From the central Widget area of your screen select a widget you want to use and drag it with your mouse to the sidebar box. When you hover the widget over the box a dashed outline box appears, drop the widget in this outline box.

Drag a widget to the sidebar

Go to the WordPress.com support site. On the widget page read the instructions for your chosen widget.

After your widget is set up click save.

If you want to remove the widget from your sidebar but keep the settings for future use, drag the widget to the inactive widgets area at the bottom of the page. If you want to remove a widget without saving the settings, just drag it back to the main widget area of the page.

Inactive widget area

There are more than thirty five widget types that you can use. The WordPress support site has a good list of step by step guides showing how to set up the individual widgets.

Some widgets you might like to use include…

  • Image widget, add an image to your sidebar or footer.
  • Text widget, add text to your sidebar or footer.
  • Follow blog, lets your site visitors sign up for email notification when you add a page to your blog or site.
  • Flickr widget, import images directly from your Flickr account.
  • Milestone widget, count down the days to an event.

If you want to add images to your sidebar, using the Twenty Eleven theme, make the image 187 pixels wide or less.

The footer of the Twenty Eleven theme has the option of one, two or three columns.

If you just use one of the three footer widget areas make images no more than 850 pixels wide. If you use two widget areas make any images in the footer widget area no more than 408 pixels wide. If you use all three of the footer widget areas make images no more than 262 pixels wide.

If you use images that are wider than this WordPress will shrink the image as best it can but images you have resized yourself will look better and download faster.

Don’t forget to visit the WordPress.com widget support page.