Mastering the wp_list_categories Function in WordPress

Hello, WordPress enthusiasts!

If you’ve ever tinkered with the WordPress codebase or played around with themes, you’re likely familiar with its extensive list of built-in functions. One such invaluable function is wp_list_categories. This function provides a way to display or retrieve the list of categories on your WordPress website.

Today, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of wp_list_categories and how you can make the most of it for your site.

What is wp_list_categories?

Simply put, wp_list_categories is a WordPress template tag that fetches and displays your categories. Whether you want a simple dropdown of all your categories or a hierarchical list, this function is your go-to.

Basic Usage:

At its most basic, you can display all your categories in a list form as follows:

<?php wp_list_categories(); ?>

But the real power comes when you start using its parameters.

Customizing with Parameters:

  • orderby: Determine the attribute by which categories will be sorted (e.g., ‘name’, ‘ID’, ‘count’).
  • order: Decide the order (Ascending or Descending).
  • exclude: Exclude certain categories by their ID.


<?php wp_list_categories(array( 'orderby' => 'name', 'order' => 'ASC', 'exclude' => array(5,10) )); ?>

This code will list all categories in alphabetical order while excluding categories with the IDs 5 and 10.

  • show_count: If set to 1, this will display the number of posts in each category.
  • hide_empty: By setting this to 0, even categories without posts will be displayed.
  • hierarchical: Display categories in a hierarchical manner when set to 1.

Styling Your Categories:

The beauty of wp_list_categories is that you’re not just limited to a bland list. With a bit of CSS, you can style it to fit seamlessly into your site’s design. WordPress even adds the current-cat class to the category of the page you’re on, allowing for further customization.


wp_list_categories is a testament to the flexibility and functionality of WordPress. Whether you’re a developer wanting to provide navigational ease to your users, or a blogger looking to give readers a quick glance into your topics, this function is an excellent tool to have in your arsenal.

Have you used wp_list_categories in a unique way? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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