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How to Add Featured Images to Your WordPress Posts

How to Add Featured Images to Your WordPress Posts

Can you imagine a blog without images? A website without photos? Not really, right? Images play a very important part in the way users perceive information. Visual content can be just as important as text, sometimes even more so. When it comes to WordPress, a special sort of image has a particularly important role. We’re talking about the featured image.

What Are Featured Images

A featured image allows users to post images that are representative of their post content. It is a feature that comes with most premium WordPress themes and its purpose is to illustrate what the post is about, to complement the text or to simply make the post look better.

WordPress featured images can be assigned to posts, pages or custom post types. However, it is important to understand that they represent a theme feature – something that has to be enabled and supported by the theme itself, and that the way they will be displayed depends on the theme’s specific settings.

These days, almost all themes come with the featured image feature, but back in the day, especially before WordPress 2.9, this wasn’t the case. Featured images had to be added and enabled using code, which was, naturally, quite frustrating.

Note that, in older versions, the Featured Image was actually called Post Thumbnails, and that’s what the WordPress Codex still calls it, so don’t get confused – it’s the same thing.

Where Are Featured Images Displayed

Blog featured image

A featured image is basically the “main” image for a page or post. As such, it is always displayed in a prominent position. Especially within the post itself, where it’s usually located just above or below the title. The image size can vary here, but it is usually large. Given its nature, the featured image should always be a high-quality one. If the one you’re using has an inadequate resolution, you can always increase the resolution of your photo using Photoshop, so make sure to take care of that first.

Portfolio websites use these images in their layout, and magazines use them on the front page along with the article title and excerpt. As thumbnails, featured images in lists and archive pages mostly make up the entire page. They are also commonly linked directly to the post they are attached to.

In addition to these locations, and depending on the theme, featured images can also appear in other places – for example, if the theme is using the recent posts widgets, a thumbnail can be added to draw the users’ attention and get them to click.

The featured image sets the tone for the entire page or post and that’s why it should always be chosen and edited with great care.

How to Add a Featured Image to a Post

The procedure for adding a featured image to your post is really as easy as it gets, provided, of course, that the theme you’re using comes with support for this feature. Most themes do, these days, but if you happen to be using a theme that doesn’t support featured images, you can add the functionality by modifying the functions.php file (which you can access through cPanel provided by your hosting company). But that’s a whole different ball game and, like we said, most themes come with the featured image functionality out of the box, so let’s see how to use it.

When you start a new post, you will notice a field in the lower right corner of the screen, underneath Categories and Tags, labeled Featured Image. Simply click on Set featured image.

(Note: If you can’t see the Set featured image link, go to Screen Options and check the Featured image box).

Featured image

You can now pick between using previously uploaded images from the Media Library or uploading a new one. As always, when uploading a new image, make sure to use the appropriate image size.

Choose image

Once you select the image you want to use, click on the Set featured image button in the lower right.

Set featured image

If you’re not happy with the featured image in your post, you can always change it by clicking on Remove featured image and adding a new one.

Remove featured image

Of course, you can also edit your featured image right there in the post editor.

To do this, first click on the image in the Featured Image panel. Then, under Attachment details, click on Edit Image.

Edit featured image

Here you can crop your image, rotate it, assign new dimensions and aspect ratio. You can also specify the image sizes you want your new settings to apply to. You can choose between all image sizes, thumbnail, or everything except the thumbnail.

Edit featured image options

When you’re done, simply exit the image editor and hit Update or Publish to save the changes.

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Final Thoughts

Setting a featured image is a quick way to add that extra touch to your content. It makes your posts more appealing and illustrates what they’re about. In fact, it might be the most important media on your website. So make sure you’re using a high-quality photo, in good resolution, an image that is cropped and sized well and that will look amazing with the rest of your content.

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