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How to create navigation links in your sidebar

Sidebar navigation on a canal

© SmoilsD, Calder & Hebble Navigation, between Salterhebble and Elland, via Flickr

Sometimes you may want to have links to particular pages which cannot be accessed from your main navigation bar.

Instead you may want these page links to be available from a special list in your sidebar.

And sometimes this can be an alternative to the drop-down 'child' page tabs from the main navigation bar.

This is accomplished through the use of menus, which I explained in my previous post within this series.

And through a special widget for menus.

First, let's create another menu

Go to the Dashboard page by mousing over 'My Sites' in the top left corner of your blog and selecting 'WP Admin':

My Sites drop down menu

or via a self-hosted WordPress.org blog mouse over your blog's name and select 'Dashboard':

Getting to the Dashboard

And find the 'Menus' link under 'Appearances' in the left sidebar:

FInding Appearance and selecting Menus

You will see the details you created for your Main Menu which shows in your main navigation bar.

At the top of the page find the link that says 'Create a new menu':

Create a new menu

Let's call your new menu 'Sidebar menu' for convenience's sake:

Create a sidebar menu

And then click on the green 'Create Menu' button.

Now your new menu is ready to receive its pages:

New sidebar menu activated

Let's select these two pages to be displayed in your sidebar (of course you will have created your own special pages for your sidebar):

Selecting sidebar page links

Click on the 'Add to Menu' button to see them safely installed into the menu:

Page links in sidebar menu

And don't forget to click on the green 'Save Menu' button.

Updated sidebar menu

Don't worry about the 'Manage Locations' tab for the time being, I will cover this later in this post.

Now place your second menu in your sidebar

Go to the 'Widgets' link under 'Appearances' in the left sidebar:

Where widgets are found in the dashboard sidebar

And you will see the Widgets Page with its double list of widgets alphabetical order.

Look for the 'Custom Menu' widget:

Look for custom menu widget

And click on it to activate it:

Activated Custom Menu widget

Select which sidebar you wish to place the widget into, and then click on the green 'Add Widget' button.

The widget will be placed in the sidebar 'bucket' at the bottom, already opened:

Custom Menu widget opened

Drag the widget into its correct position in your sidebar before you fill in its details.

Select the 'Sidebar menu' so this widget can display it:

Select your sidebar menu

Give your widget a title (hopefully a bit more exciting than the one I've written here!):

Give Custom Menu widget a title

And don't forget to click the green 'Save' button.

Now go to your blog to look at your new sidebar navigation widget. Mouse over 'My Sites' at the top left of your blog and select 'View site':

View Site link in dashboard sidebar

And in a self-hosted WordPress.org blog mouse over your blog's name and select 'Visit Site':

View Site on a self-hosted blog

And find your new navigation links in your sidebar:

See your sidebar links

I hope it meets your approval.

What about that Manage Locations tab?

Oh yes, thank you for reminding me.

Go back to your 'Menus' page under 'Appearance' via the left sidebar.

If you're curious enough, click on the 'Manage Locations' tab:

Manage Locations tab

Now this theme also offers a Footer Menu location. Of course other themes will show different facilities here.

Let's see what happens.

Select the 'Sidebar menu':

Select Sidebar Menu for Footer Menu

And then click the green 'Save Changes' button. Now go look at your blog to see what has happened (instructions how to above):

See the footer page links

Wow, the page links are now in a smaller and more plain navigation bar at the bottom of my blog.

You can either repeat your main navigation tabs here, or create another menu that contains a separate set of pages such as 'Terms and Conditions' and 'Legal Policy' and other such official pages you may not want to show up in your top navigation bar.

Of course you can only achieve this if this feature is available on your theme. So go and have a look and experiment!

The next post will explore how to show your sidebar navigation only on a particular page's sidebar. This is a special feature of WordPress.com blogs or if you've uploaded the JetPack plugin in your WordPress.org blog or website.

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Alice Elliott writes the Beginner Bloggers blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She specialises in simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Why not also visit her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog to learn some more.

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  • I love posts that help people do things easily. It’s so easy to believe that everyone knows the simple stuff because it’s been around for years. I know literally hundreds of people who have never written a blog post and aren’t even yet on Twitter. A much needed site.

    • I’m glad you approve, Jenny. There are plenty of blogs who claim to be written for beginners, yet I feel they aren’t simple enough for real beginners, who know nothing about coding or where anything is in a blog. And as you rightly said, many assume beginner bloggers would easily understand what is needed, when in reality the poor things haven’t a clue! That’s why I set up this blog to help them.

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