How To Add a Featured Image in WordPress

A popular attribute of WordPress Themes is the option to add a "Featured Image" to your post or blog. Featured Images can also be described as post thumbnails in many WordPress themes.  Depending on the theme you have some have a strong emphasis on the use of featured images and have built-in support within the theme itself.

How To Add a Featured Image in WordPress Feature

Terminology with web design can be difficult at times. For the sake of simplicity, we will only use the term "Featured Image" as this is the current terminology used in WordPress. Previous versions used the term "Post Thumbnail".

You will learn how to add a featured image, a.k.a post thumbnail in WordPress from the steps provided in this post.

Newbie Guide to Adding Featured Images to WordPress

Step 1- Check to see if your theme supports featured images.

An easy way to check if your site supports feature image is by going to the post editor, there it is usually at the bottom of the right column as shown below.

Set Featured Image Hyperlink Location in WordPress

If you do not see it there, don't give up hope. It may be that you just don't have it set on your screen options.

Go to the top of your post editor and click on "Screen Options".  See if featured image is available and make sure you have the box checked.

Post editor screen option location in wordpress
Featured Image view on in wordpress

If your theme supports featured images skip down to "Step 2".

If your theme does not have that view available you can still have it added to your theme or you can change it to a theme that supports featured images.

You vested too much in your website theme already and don't want to change?

You can still add the option of having featured images to your present theme in 2 ways.

A- Add a Featured Image Plugin.

It is the easiest way of adding featured image support to your theme. Just remember that plugins can slow your sites loading time and may not be 100% compatible with your theme. Always do a site backup before adding new plugins.

You can add a featured image plugin by going to the "Plugin" tab on the left column in WordPress, click on "add new" then do a search for "Featured Image" or "Post Thumbnails". You will find hundreds of options to choose from. As a general rule, we tend to go for the ones that have the highest amount of downloads, with basic features and a 5-star value from a high number of reviewers.

B- Add CSS code to your Theme

You will need to have to be ok with playing around with your theme code a little bit. To add it in this manner is the preferred way to decrease the issue of loading times for your website vs adding a plugin that may have many other attributes that you may never use.

You can use the following code to the functions.php in your theme:

add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );

(If you are not sure how to find or never heard of a function.php then this option may not be for you and remember to always do a site backup before changing any code.)

There are many other levels of functionality that can be added to this basic addition. You can find thousands of variations at WordPress.org if you really want to dig deep into featured image functionality.

Step 2-Adding a Featured Image to Your Post

We will go on the premise that your theme supports featured images.

Adding a featured image is as easy as adding a post picture.

You only need to click on the Featured Image link in the right column.

Your Media up-loader will open. Either choose one of the images already in your WordPress library or upload a new image.

Featured Image Media Uploader

After you, edit your image, add your desired captions, and Alt text you can click on "set featured image".

View of featured image set

How your featured image is shown on your website will depend on your theme or plugin.

Your theme may offer other levels of editing on how your featured images are represented in your blog posts. These changes may be made by going to the "Appearance" tab on the left column and using either customization, theme options or there may be a specific feature image editor.

I hope this information has helped you add featured images to your WordPress website.

If you need more help and support in setting up your website then we suggest using the training and support at Wealthy Affiliate.

You can sign up and access all the basic WordPress training for free. No credit information required.

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Paul and Brenda


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8 comments on “How To Add a Featured Image in WordPress
  1. James says:

    Hi,

    I’m looking to set up a WordPress blog about gardening tips for fellow gardeners.
    I have a limited budget and cannot afford to spend lots of money on photo images.
    Do you know where I can find commercial-free photos that I can use on my blog that won’t get me in trouble with copyright?
    Thank you for help.

    • Paul says:

      We currently use a yearly subscription site that includes unlimited downloads from their Member Library and every image you download is yours to keep and use forever—royalty-free. They have over 400,000 images to choose from with the yearly membership but as a member, you get up to 60% off of millions of other stock images. They also have yearly membership options offers for royalty-free video and audio. You can read my review by clicking here. If you like a higher level of professionalism then you can click on the Adobe banners to the right or by reading my review by clicking here. Cheers
      Paul

  2. Tanya says:

    Thanks for the information about featured images. I am fairly new to using WordPress and this information was very helpful. I wasn’t aware that some WordPress themes didn’t have feature image management built in.

    • Paul says:

      The WordPress platform is continuously improving. I’ve seen so many upgrades since I’ve started using it over 2 years ago. I look forward to its evolution over the next years. If your theme doesn’t have it built in I would consider changing themes if you want that functionality. Adding it through a plugin will only slow down your site and may have compatibility issues.
      Best of luck
      Paul

  3. Simon says:

    Hey Paul, have you any idea what the best image size is for a featured image to display correctly when sharing posts on Social Media?
    I currently have my website organised to display the featured image when someone shares my post however due to all my images being different sizes, the image usually ends up cropped on platforms suchlike Google+ and Facebook. I wondered if there were specific dimensions I should be aware of.
    Also, when filling in the ‘alt tag’ on a featured image, should I be writing in the same keywords as my post title? My niche is best promoted visually therefore I would like the featured image to be found in the image search results, would this work?
    Thanks for you help Paul,
    Simon.

    • Paul says:

      Hello Simon,
      I generally keep my feature images relatively small around the 200 to 300px wide range and appears well in most blogrolls and when sharing on social media. 300 x 250 has worked well for me so far. The “alt Tag” is meant for description purposes for those with poor vision settings on their computers but it also helps with SEO ranking. I would not put the same text in the “alt tag” section as your title for the same image. It is ideal to use keyword rich words for the “alt text” as long as it pertains to the proper description of your image. The title you can put a shorter one-word description to help identify your image. Another little tip is using some of the same keywords in the title of another image on your post. Again always keeping in mind that the ÈTitleÈ and “alt text” should properly describe your image.
      Cheers
      Paul

  4. YWalden says:

    Hello Paul,
    Great website. It is very informative. Are Amazon and Clickbank the best affiliate marketing program?

    • Paul says:

      They are both quite reliable and provide a great number of products to sell. Amazon, of course, has everything under the sun from hand soap to 100″ televisions. Clickbank is mostly digital products that tend to work well for online sales. You can also sign-up to affiliate agents like CJ or Flex offers where they manage hundreds of companies with affiliate programs. There is a whole lot more to learn about when it comes to affiliate programs. That is where the training at Wealthy Affiliate can help you understand. Most people are not aware that Wealthy Affiliate offers a free training program to help anybody on their way to a successful online business.

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