In WordPress, a featured image is the main title image, also known as post thumbnails for a blog post. It’s a well-known WordPress feature that we all have seen often displayed next to each post’s heading on the homepage and on social media.

Features images are available and supported by the vast majority of themes.

They serve as the main image for your blog articles. And is it displayed next to the title on your home page and social media? All popular WordPress themes feature support for featured images as default.

This article will show you how to add featured images or post thumbnails to your WordPress site.

Featured images, the most common feature of the WordPress theme. Almost all WordPress themes provide built-in functionality for featured images, and you can see across various places of your WordPress website.

Visual elements are more appealing to us as humans than text form. Featured images help to make your blog pages most appealing to the audience.

They also benefit by increasing user engagement and page views.

Search engines and social media websites may also use these images in search results. And also used on social media news feeds.

People are using the featured images for blog articles. Although, you can also use them for web pages and custom post types.


Featured images are not the same as cover images. See the difference between the cover image and the featured image in WordPress.

How to Add a Post Thumbnail or Featured Image to WordPress

Create or edit a new blog post and insert a featured image into a WordPress post.

You’ll find the featured image tab in the right column of the content editor.

To access the featured image, you will have to click on the “Set Featured Image” section. You will see the WordPress Media popup window will open.

You can either upload an image from your computer or use an existing image from your media library. After you’ve chosen an image, click the Set Featured Image button.

In the right column, WordPress would also display a preview of the featured image. Yet, based on your WordPress theme, the actual featured image looks different.

You may now save or publish your post and preview it to see how your featured image will look on your live website.

Your featured image will appear on your posts immediately. Depends on the parameters set by your theme developer.

The second important thing that most newbies have is where to find images to use as featured images.

You cannot use Google image search to find and use any image on the internet. These images are protected under copyright law. And using these images without permission may result in legal ramifications.

There are free platforms online to help you discover free images for your blog articles.

Here, I mentioned a few of our best picks are as follows:

  • Shutterstock: They offer a few free images. Still, the true value is in their premium plans. That allows you access to thousands of high-quality photos, infographics, and as well as drawings, videos, and so more.
  • Unsplash: Unsplash is a major internet resource that publishes high-resolution images, which you can use on your website and other activities.
  • Negative Space: A well-organized collection of royalty-free images.
  • New Old Stock: A collection of vintage photographs from public sources.

All these sites provide high-resolution images that have large file sizes and resolutions. Before using images for featured images, you must always optimize for the website.

Your WordPress theme takes care of featured images. You’ll need to get some basic CSS or WordPress coding knowledge. So, you can make some changes to how your theme displays featured images.

If you’re comfortable with code, continue to read for more recommendations.

Theme Developers Guide to Featured Images and Post Thumbnails in WordPress

Almost all WordPress themes allow the featured image. However, it is a popular feature. In rare cases, you might come across a theme that does not support featured images. Or that you dislike how they manage featured images.

You can add featured image capabilities to your theme or customize its appearance.

You can do it yourself if you’re familiar with modifying WordPress theme files. And understand your way around a little custom CSS.

You won’t see the option to add a featured image in the content editor if your theme does not allow featured images.

To support featured images in a WordPress theme, add the following line of code to the functions.php file:

add_theme_support (‘post thumbnails’);

This code will allow featured image functionality for pages and posts. You can now access the featured image option by heading to the posts or page block editor.

When you set a featured image, it will not show in your WordPress theme. To display featured images in your theme, edit your templates. You include the following code how you want the featured image to show up:

<?php the_post_thumbnail(); ?>

The files into which you put the following code may vary depending on your theme. You need to add the code within your post loop.

The code above is the basic function to add featured image capability. And it displays featured images in your theme.

To set the image size for featured images you upload, include this line of code in your functions.php file.

set_post_thumbnail_size( 150, 150);

The set post thumbnail size variables are as follows: width, height.

You may also specify other image sizes to use with the post thumbnail () function. As an example:

// Image size for single posts

add_image_size (‘single-post-thumbnail’, 760, 250 );

In the above example, we’ve added and defined a new image size, which is single-post-thumbnail. That has a width of 760px and a height of 250px.

We’ll still need to add this image size to the relevant theme file to use it in our theme.

If you’ve posted featured images in the past, but they’re still showing up in a different size. You now need to update thumbnails and image sizes for older posts.

An example of the featured image function with defined image size is as below.

<?php the_post_thumbnail( ‘single-post-thumbnail’ ); ?>

It is a simplified version of the complete functionality. There are still many other uses for featured images.


We hope this guide has helped you. And now you understand how to add featured images in WordPress, and you now learn and put the best way to add featured images to your website blog posts.
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Using featured images on your site as a beginner, you may experience difficulties. Some of the most asked questions about the featured images we cover as below.

Why does the featured image appear twice in my posts?

Beginners often create and add a featured image. And then add the same image in the post editor’s content section.
How to fix a featured image appearing twice in WordPress. You remove the image from the content section and use the featured image meta box instead.

What is the difference between the cover image and the featured image?

In the content area of your posts or pages, you can use cover images. We are using split sections of a long and complex page or post.
The featured image is the image that represents an article, and it appears before or alongside the content but not within the article body.
For more, you can visit this guide on the difference between a cover image and a featured image in WordPress.

How to display recent posts with featured images?

The WordPress block editor has a ‘Latest Posts’ section. That displays recent posts with post images.
The other alternative way is to use a plugin. With the help of using the Recent Posts Widget Extended plugin, you can display your recent blog posts with thumbnails in sidebar widgets. If you still find difficulties, and for more information, you can check out this article on how to display recent posts in WordPress.

How to remind authors to add featured images to WordPress?

Featured images most of the time display on your homepage, blog, and other archive pages.
So, if you and another author on your website forget to set one and publish the article, it will display without a featured image. It will appear unprofessional and inconsistent, which does impact your user experience.
To overcome this issue. You can install and activate the Require Featured Image plugin.
The plugin will help you send a notification whenever someone attempts to publish a post without a featured image.

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