Create Named Templates in WordPress - dummies

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

WordPress recognizes three special areas of a theme: header, footer, and sidebar. The get_header, get_footer, and get_sidebar functions default to loading header.php, footer.php, and sidebar.php, respectively. Each of these functions also supports a name parameter that allows you to load an alternative version of the file. For example, running get_header(‘main’) causes WordPress to load header-main.php.

You may wonder why you’d use the name parameter when you can just create a template file named whatever you like and load it directly. The following are reasons for using the get_header, get_footer, or get_sidebar functions with a name parameter:

  • You use a standard naming convention that users can easily recognize and understand.

  • You can load specialized template files easily and quickly.

  • You offer a fallback that loads the unnamed template file if the named one doesn’t exist. For example, if you use the tag get_header(‘main’); in your template, but for some reason the header-main.php template file does not exist, WordPress defaults to header.php, which saves the integrity of your website display until you can load the header-main.php file correctly.

In short, use the name parameter feature if you have multiple, specialized Header, Footer, or Sidebar template files.