Page Navigation in WordPress – Using Sort Order

The following video provides an explanation on how to use sort order so that you get a scalable and organized approach to managing your navigation in WordPress. While geared at WordPress sites, this approach should work for any content management system that provides an automated or semi-automated way of creating navigation. This tutorial assumes that you are using a theme which supports multilevel navigation (i.e. drop down menus) and have a basic familiarity with using WordPress to edit and create content. You will also want to note this tutorial reference the function wp_list_pages(); and includes the parameter “sort_column=menu_order” (e.g. wp_list_pages(‘sort_column=menu_order’); ). For more on wp_list_pages and it’s parameters visit the WordPress Codex.


  1. andy on August 3, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks for the tips! One thing I am still not sure of is how you get the pages then to go into your top navigation like on your site???

    • Tez on September 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      thank you thank you!! The only place I could find this info!

      • Scott Ellis on September 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm

        Tez – You are welcome!

        • Gary Spaulding on October 17, 2015 at 4:40 am

          Well, I’m lost. I have many pages om my website and they all use numerical sorting.
          Now I have created a new page and it is like a dictionary and uses alphabetical sorting. But I can’t figure out how to do that.

          I only want to use the alpha sorting for certain pages that require it.

          Look under MrGary’s Comments, at the Critical thinking terms page.

          Any ideas that I can understand would be appreciated.

          Thank you

          • Scott Ellis on October 19, 2015 at 11:37 am


            This approach is deprecated. Since the introduction of the menu builder in WordPress it hasn’t really been necessary. Just create your menu under Appearance > Menus and drag and drop the menu items into the order you want them.

  2. Scott Ellis on August 4, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Andy, That is a slightly more technical issue. You have to use the wp_list_pages() function. See the list of Template Tags on for more details but you’ll likely need to tell it what pages to include or which ones to ignore unless you want it to show every page in your site on your nav (not likely unless you only have a couple pages). Also, most WordPress themes are set up to support horizontal navigation (at least the themes I’ve built, used, delt with ..) but you’ll want to be sure yours has the css for that. If not you’ll get a vertical list of pages without the formatting you’re looking for since the wp_list_pages() tag will spit out an unordered list ul & li html tags respectively.

  3. Cathy Tibbles on August 6, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I like it! I had gotten to the point of db digits, don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Scott Ellis on August 11, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Yeah, DB digits could get messy! Glad this helps!

  5. […] WordPress Navigation – How to Use Sort Order for scalable page navigation |   « Lobbying Wastes Resoures |   […]

  6. Carlos Mendez on September 20, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Thank you! Wonderful idea and it is very smart way to sort!

    • Scott Ellis on September 20, 2009 at 8:29 am

      Carlos, Glad you found it useful! More to come…

  7. Ruby Koerper on October 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    I have a new web site–5 pages—I want to change the wording on the Purchasing page and also delete one line–have not figured out how to do that.

    I did add two review to my Review page earlier with no problems, Thanks for any assistance, Ruby

    • Scott Ellis on November 8, 2009 at 3:37 am

      Ruby, Sorry for the long delay. I assume you are on wordpress? From what you described can’t you just go to the Page and change the words? I tried to go to your site but it isn’t coming up. Let me know…

  8. ecmuscle on November 10, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Using 4 digits to control sort order, good idea that works.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Scott Ellis on November 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Ruby, You should just be able to login to the backend and go to Pages > Purchase and edit your content. If that doesn’t work we’ll have to login and take a look.

  10. Scott Ellis on November 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    ecmuscle, glad you like. It’s a fairly “old school” idea but still works well!

  11. Making A Page- YBA Blogs on November 12, 2009 at 10:23 am

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  12. wakacje on November 26, 2009 at 11:23 am

    nice tips – 1000,2000 – good idea

  13. […] Page Based Content Organization (see also Page Navigation in WordPress – Using Sort Order) […]

  14. chris on December 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I see how you make a page the default home page and then how you add other pages and sub pages, but after doing that how do you create a menu item for your posts (the blog entries)?

    • Scott Ellis on December 15, 2009 at 6:57 pm

      Chris, you have to use the function wp_list_categories() and whatever parameters you want to go with that. Note: categories will not show up in the menu if there are no posts in that category.
      Also, you’ll need to style the menu accordingly, depending on whether or not your theme supports it.

      See more in the codex: wp_list_categories();

  15. bran on December 15, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    hello. I just soaked up your workpress video, content map, very helpful … my question, wanting your recommendation, using wordpress as a blog, I see the smart uses of ‘catagories’ and the use of ‘tags’ as you explained … but how best should I think about this if I want to set up a ‘portfolio’ section of graphic work, a page parent with sub pages, that remains separate from posts tagged with categories … do you recommend setting portfolio under a ‘static’ page so its available on my main nav? or as ‘catagory’ or as a ‘static’ page? Both a category and static page?

    That said, how would my subs of: print, web, ID, for instance be best served? My goal is to set up a ‘portfolio’ that remains full of just my work, not pulling in other elements, say blog posts with the same tag or catagory… Is it correct to think if I do this I need to reserve specific ‘catagory’ and ‘tags’ just for my porfolio section? Hope that makes sense. Again, thanks for the video content map … it was very helpful.

    • Scott Ellis on December 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm

      Bran, I would probably set it up as a category called “Portfolio”. You could also create sub-categories for portfolio types (print portfolio, web portfolio, etc…). In WordPress you can create a specific category template so that that main category page will look different than the usual category page. This helps because if you wanted the main page for “Print Portfolio” to look slightly different than “Web Portfolio” it’s just a matter of creating different category templates. If you don’t know css and html and a little php you’ll need someone to create them for you. (Feel free to contact me if you need a quote).

      Underneath each category you would create a post for the particular “work” you are showing off. So if you create a portfolio of website’s you’ve built then each site would be a post.. make sense?

      The top level portfolio page (category page, not static page) could show various works from all of the sub-categories of “Portfolio” or the most recent example from each… however you want it to work. Again, this kind of templating takes some coding but can definitely be done.

      I would then think about tags for the individual category types. For example under the “Print Portfolio” category what are the logical tags (think of search terms) that people would want to see work based on.

      Ideas might be:

      Magazine Ad
      Business Cards

  16. Can I use different Themes in different page? on December 19, 2009 at 8:58 am

    […] Creating Scalable Page Based Navigation […]

  17. Andrew on December 22, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Just wanted to say this is a very smart idea! In addition, I have started using a plugin “My Page Order” which is a very small plugin that lets you sort your pages and drill down to sort sub pages as well using an easy drag and drop. The URL is and it’s very handy! It’s not yet updated for 2.9 yet since WordPress added the trash feature for pages but the author has said he’s working on an update since 2.9 does not include a better way to sort pages.

    • Scott Ellis on December 23, 2009 at 10:59 am

      Andrew, thank you, I appreciate that. My Page Order is a good plugin. My personal preference is that I tend to prefer to not use plugins for what I can do with core WordPress functionality. 1) For the reason you mentioned, it’s a pain sometimes waiting for a plugin that has to get worked when a new version of WordPress is released. 2) It keeps everything lighter (fewer moving parts mean fewer points of failure where things can go wrong). That said, I use a lot of plugins, just not where it isn’t necessary. Still, I know that plugin makes things easier for a lot of people so enjoy and upgraded to 2.9 as soon as you can. Always a good idea to stay up to date on that.

  18. Guest on December 30, 2009 at 4:52 am

    above video is not working… it shows the message ” Sorry, the video is currently not available”…..

  19. Scott Ellis on December 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Sorry for the delay but I was traveling when you sent this. I checked it and it seems to be working. Thanks for letting me know though.

  20. kaka on January 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the tips

  21. Scott Ellis on January 26, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Kaka, you bet.

  22. Circe Link on February 21, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Thanks for the EASY guide! Much appreciated.

  23. Alex on March 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Thanks. You just saved me a ton of (future) time.

  24. Scott Ellis on March 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Alex! You bet… that is the idea!

  25. gailsserenity on March 11, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I am very new at blogs / blogging. I have been trying to make use of Categories and have put the posts in and they are not showing when I open up the site to look at Categories.
    I know I'm missing something very simple. Keep in mind my newness at this.
    I did do my own website using a template, so I can't figure out what my problem is.
    Also. How do you choose the size of your text?

  26. Scott Ellis on March 11, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Gail, That could be any number of things but the odds are you are putting your posts into categories that aren't set to display as you would expect in your theme. I don't provide technical support/changes (for free) so I'd start with getting an explanation from whomever set up your blog. If you can't get anywhere there send me an email and we'll chat.

    Choosing the size of your font is part of an art called typography and I am definitely no expert in that field. It also depends on what you are applying it to. Google “learn typography” and you'll get a lot of good hits to look at.

  27. gailsserenity on March 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Scott,
    I'm setting up my own blog just as I did my own website, using templates.
    I used American for the templates and they were available on the phone and were very helpful.
    It shouldn't be that difficult. I am a determined person, so I will finally get it. I will keep trying.
    I just hoped you could help me. Can you tell me how to set the categories up for display? Or does that cost extra?
    Thank you,

  28. Scott Ellis on March 15, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Gails – I really do do any support through here. You're best bet would be to reach out to the WordPress Pro mailing list (if you have budget, it's for paid projects). Otherwise I'd hit the support forum/website for the template you used. If they don't have one you can try the support form to see if someone can help you.

  29. gailsserenity on March 15, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    thank you. Maybe that will help.


  30. richardnday on March 15, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    What an excellent video. I have read the information, but it didn't make sense to me. You elegant numbering solution really works well. Thanks for sharing this idea.

  31. Scott Ellis on March 16, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Richard, thanks for that. I really appreciate and glad you found it useful. Mission accomplished!

  32. achintamitra on March 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks a lot Scott for your video. You've explained it very well and I was able to reorder the pages on my site.

  33. Scott Ellis on March 20, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Achintamitra, thanks! Glad it helped make it easier for you!

  34. Don on March 20, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks for the video Scott. I'm having some trouble though. After sorting different pages in the correct order (I also used the 1000, 2000… technique), the pages are sorted properly in the Admin section, but not on the site.

    I thought perhaps it was a cache thing, so I opened a different browser but the same order appeared.

    How can I correct this?

  35. Scott Ellis on March 21, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Don – You might make sure the function that generates those pages (wp_list_pages()) includes an attribute for sorting them or isn't being over-ridden by a plugin or something else. It's a little hard to say without seeing the back end. You can learn more about wp_list_pages() at

  36. mac to ipod on April 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    WordPress features includes a plugin architecture and a templating system. Used by over 2% of the 10,000 biggest websites, WordPress is the most popular blog software in use today. Thanks for providing related articles. Keep posting!

  37. WordPress Page Navigation on April 13, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    […] to the bottom page within the same branch of the hierarchy. You may also want to employ specific WordPress Page sort order to your page to have everything organized the way you want […]

  38. Michael on May 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Thank you SO much for this!! I'm just at the beginning end of getting my website going, and this DEFINITELY helped me! I've bookmarked you so I can come back and make sure I'm getting this right. Michael –

  39. Scott Ellis on May 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Michael, you bet. Love the site name!

  40. dojazd do Kijowa on May 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I often working with WP – thank you for this post

  41. Kim Bolte on June 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks so much for this tutorial, it made the process very clear and easy to implement. Great tip about the numbering too. I would have done the 1. 2. 3. thing without having seen the video.


  42. Scott Ellis on June 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Kim, Thanks for letting me know, does me good to hear I've saved some people some work and headache!!!

  43. […] is something of a black art and carries its own traps for the unwary, but Scott Ellis has created a video tutorial that includes some useful guidelines about how to achieve this in a simple and robust […]

  44. Tom Slattery on August 3, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I am a coding novice, so please forgive this: I’m trying to enable this function so I can implement your numbering system. I looked up the reference for how to change the parameters for ‘wp_list’ and found this is edited in wp-includes/post-template.php (?)

    I found this string in the file, but the syntax is different than in the examples they show:

    function wp_list_pages($args = ”) {
    $defaults = array(
    ‘depth’ => 0, ‘show_date’ => ”,
    ‘date_format’ => get_option(‘date_format’),
    ‘child_of’ => 0, ‘exclude’ => ”,
    ‘title_li’ => __(‘Pages’), ‘echo’ => 1,
    ‘authors’ => ”, ‘sort_column’ => ‘menu_order, post_title’,
    ‘link_before’ => ”, ‘link_after’ => ”, ‘walker’ => ”,


  45. Tom Slattery on August 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

    After digging around the theme itself, I realized that it had the option right in it’s own control panel to order the pages by number, not alphabetically. Nonetheless, this was a good lesson in code.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Jenny on October 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you! This was a huge help to me today. It worked perfectly. thanks again.

  46. Get Coupon Codes on October 24, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Video is not working , just wana know how to configure WordPress Navigation Management

  47. […] en la web encontrรฉ un blog en donde explican con un video de una manera bastante sencilla como estos enlaces pueden aparecer […]

  48. Crumbz on December 27, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Thank you so much for this. I’m such a rookie at this stuff and you made it so easy to understand. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  49. Marco on January 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    This helped thanks !

    • Scott Ellis on January 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      You bet Marco, glad it was helpful!

  50. Ultimate Lifestyle Design on February 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    This video is wicked — thanks a lot bro, I struggled with this for an hour before I stumbled across this.



    • Scott Ellis on February 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm


      Thanks for that! Always good to know I was able to help someone out! That is why I do this….

  51. Kiersten on May 2, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Thank you for this post! I could not find this information anywhere else! Your video was perfect in explaining how to change page order. Love the advice on starting with 1000. Even if I had known how to do this, I probably would have started with 1 and then made a lot of extra work for myself. Thanks again!

    • Scott Ellis on May 2, 2011 at 8:53 am


      You are very welcome. Glad it was so helpful.

  52. Brian on August 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Excellent video. Thanks for the help.

  53. AA on December 10, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    A couple years after you’ve posted this, and it still helped me immensely! Thanks!

    • Scott Ellis on December 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      Alyssa – Makes me happy to hear that! It’s an “old school” technique I learned many MANY years ago! ๐Ÿ™‚ Somethings age well… but you should definitely try the new(er) menu system in WordPress too…

  54. Tony on December 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    That was so easy. I thought I had searched everything to figure out how to switch the order of pages across the top bar, but there it was right in front of me. Thanks for the clear instructions!

  55. Holly on January 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you! This tute is so clear and easy to follow. My pages are now beautifully reordered!

  56. Esmaeil on January 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Just thank you!!!!

  57. CH on February 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Scott, Thanks for this video – is was extremely helpful.

    Best Wishes,


  58. Las Vegas Wedding Photographer FogartyFOTO on April 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Simple solution that did just what I wanted. Thank you!

  59. Ian on November 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    This is a good idea, but I just wish WordPress would allow you to create a custom WP_Query and sort by the navigation order under appearance in the wp admin.

  60. […] See the original article here: Page Navigation in WordPress โ€“ Using Sort Order – Scott Ellis […]

  61. Vincent on July 20, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Thanks for doing this video. I looked for days for something that would tell me how to sort my pages. I never thought to look in Quick Edit (or I should say I looked at Quick Edit and totally missed the Sort dialog). I’ve numbered based on your suggestion. Really helpful. Thanks again!

    • Scott Ellis on July 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Vincent, You bet! Glad you found it useful.

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