How to create custom menus in WordPress

Recently a new version of WordPress has been updated. Although there are no significant changes to the end user, it is true that some functions or features, as the dashboard, have been changed. Let’s see step by step how to create and manage menus on a website with WordPress if your template or theme installed supported it.


This tutorial is useful for both users (free version without your own domain) and users (WordPress hosting using your own domain, more professional.)
Let’s see the following sections:
1. The WordPress menu
2. How to create your own WordPress menu
3. How to add sub-level menus in WordPress
4. How to locate the menu in the header or footer

1. The WordPress Menu

Menus are a key part of any web design or blog, considering that it serves to visitors and users of the site as a navigation system to access to the content. The better the menu design is structured, the more satisfactory the navigation for users and customers to your website will be. Never forget this; always try to make things simpler for your visitors, they will thank you.

Ideally, you can access the content through the navigation menu, however, as you may have noticed, when a site begins to have some content, it is very difficult to place all these pages, sections, articles and categories on your WordPress menu.


Therefore, it is necessary to have a menu that allows us to locate drop-down menus and sub-menus where to place child elements or categories depending on the main category, but without collapse, as in the picture, your site with infinite drop-down menus. It is therefore essential to have selected a good navigation strategy; so as we always say, first take a pencil and a paper and think.

Likewise, if you have a WordPress blog, it is also very positive to have a good strategy combining categories and tags to browse your blog with ease and efficiency. If you are interested in this issue, in this other tutorial we will tell you how to optimize correctly categories of your blog.

Last but not least, we must be clear about the location of navigation menu before creating it, because as you know, there may be a menu in the header, the footer, or even in the sidebar. Most of the time, it depends on the template you are using in WordPress (you can see our templates designed by us here and tell us what do you think,) but it is usually placed in the header. If these concepts are not clear to you, it might be good for you to read this article about the basic structure of a website in HTML5

2. How to create your own WordPress Menu

Okay, get down to work! The first thing you need to do to create your menu is to access to the dashboard of your WordPress. We illustrate this example with one of our WordPress themes, in this case Meadow, a blog style.

Once you are inside the dashboard, click on “Appearance” on the left sidebar of your WordPress. After clicking, a menu where you will have several options (Menus, Widgets, Themes …) will be displayed. We are interested in Menus, so click on “Menus.”


Perfect, you have already accessed to the dashboard. As you can see, and this is the novelty that incorporates the new version of WordPress regarding the dashboard, you have two tabs:

  • Edit Menus: a place where you can create and organize your menus. As you will see below, you can create as many menus as you want.
  • Manage locations: the second tab is the next step once you have created the menu, as this is where you choose where the menu you have created will be placed (in the header, footer, sidebar, etc…)


So, back to the tab “Edit Menus” we will create a new menu with the name we want, in our case we will call it “silocreativo.” Once created, you can start to fill the content menu. As you have seen, WordPress makes it easy: on the left you have some boxes with the content you have posted, i.e. your articles or post, pages, categories…


Now you just need to click the “Add to Menu” button to add your selection(s) to the menu that you created. These items are automatically organized. Perfect, you have created your WordPress menu, with your name and the content you want.

3. How to add sub-level menus in WordPress

Now you have to organize your menu and create sub-menus and sub-levels in order to have drop-down items. As you can see, articles and pages you have added and now appear as a bar are draggable. Just click on one of them, and without releasing the mouse button, move them up or down to sort them into your menu.


Similarly you have moved up and down menus, you can move them slightly to the right, to leave a blank space in front of the bar. What we are doing is setting the menus and sub-menus. You can create as many sub-levels as you please, but do not abuse them or your users will not see the contents of your blog or website properly.

Likewise, you can change the text that will appear in the menu, because although your article or page calls “Home,” you can change the name, affecting only what is shown in the menu.

An important question is that submenus are only displayed when you go over the parent item with the mouse. But, have you thought about what happens on mobile devices and tablets? Indeed, these devices have no mouse and can only click, so you will never see the drop-down menu.


The solution to this is “responsive design” (learn more here) a web design technique that allows your website to automatically adapt to the device used without having to generate more content or create any navigation menu.
As you can see, our Meadow WordPress theme , used for this tutorial, is responsive, so it adapts automatically if the visitor is a Smartphone or tablets user, making navigation easier and simpler without losing content. So now you know, if your WordPress is not adapted, install some of our WordPress themes with “responsive design.”


After making these changes, it is time to save them.

Advice: Sometimes we are interested in creating a sub-menu with all the categories (such as the example,) and as a main item or container we want to place an item called “Categories” that although we used it to group all categories, it is not a page or an article itself as it has no content. What happens if a user clicks on it? Where it would take you?


One way to solve this is to add a “custom link.” You can do it from one of the boxes on the left. In fields that you can fill, it is important to add a number sign “#” in the “url.” With this you ensure that the item has entity, the menu runs correctly, and that clicking on it, WordPress does not lead you to any pages.

4. How to locate the menu in the header or footer

Perfect, if you have reached this point, you already have practically created your menu. You just need to locate it on your website. Therefore, you must use the next tab “Manage Locations.”

Here WordPress will show you the possible locations that your menu can have. This mainly depends on the WordPress theme or template you have installed. If the template is two columns, with a sidebar on the left and content on the right, the menu will be located in the sidebar. If, however, the WordPress template that you are working with has a “header,” surely this is the point location.


In our case, we place the menu in the header, as it is the first space a visitor displays, and therefore the first thing that a visitor will use to navigate.
Once you have selected the menu to be shown, in our case “silocreativo,” it is time to store and display the result. To do this, click on the top bar “visit site” and observe how your WordPress menu is shown.


Advice: What happens if I change the theme or template having already created a menu? It is a very common question. Do not worry, the menu is saved in the tab “Edit Menus,” however, the menu will be decoupled from location. You just need to repeat this last step, locate the menu from your location, and save it to see again your navigation menu running on your new WordPress template.

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Comments (6)

  1. Hey all, only become aware of your current weblog via Google, observed it is definitely useful. Kind regards!

  2. Hi Ricardo. I recently purchased Rosalie and love it. I’m very new at this and have been hard at work launching my blog, i was using Make theme and changed it to Rosalie. Hoping you can help me with the following:-
    1. Re navigating to Home page…the above tutorial is not the same in my dashboard. It seems that most of the time when you first land on my site you see a column list of my blogs (which now has disappeared to only one blog!) with the slider above…which is great. However as you navigate its impossible to go back to this initial page…so my home page is not working how it should? Also my social icons (sumo me) are not appearing either. I don’t think i need a static page?
    2. Where can i get the about me widget that is in the Rosalie demo? It is not showing as an option. Many thanks France

    1. Hello France, thank for writing and using our Rosalie tmeplate!

      1. Yes, you have to add a custom link item to ypur menu pointing to your root domain ( instead adding a Home page that links to The interface could change in newest versions.

      2. The about widget is the “Gravatar Profile” that is added by Jetpack plugin when you active the module Extra Widgets.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  3. Hello Ricardo

    I am so confused creating my dashboard menu…I already have ABOUT and CONTACT. I want to put TRAVEL also but if I create a new menu with the name TRAVEL, ABOUT and CONTACT disappear from dashboard. And again if I put them back, disappear TRAVEL. I’m so confused because CONTACT and ABOUT I’ve created them as pages, not menus….Should I create also TRAVEL as a page? but then I will be able to insert the articles that I want in this section?

    1. Hello Alina.

      Yes, if you don’t create a custom menu, WordPress will show only your pages whereas you create a custom menu, then that menu will be shown.
      So if you want to add Travel (which I suppose is a category) to your menu, then you need to create a custom menu as the tutorial says.
      First add your pages to the menu and after add your categories. You will be able to reorder the items.

      Hope this helps!

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