WordPress: Creating Breadcrumbs without a Plugin

Update July 2015

It’s been a while since we created this post and some people have reported a few issues etc. We have updated the code to fix a few bugs, make the breadcrumbs more versatile and have included comments explaining what the code is doing and some general tidying up.

We have added support for:

We hope the updated code proves to be a simple, effective solution for your breadcrumb needs!

If you do have any issues or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment.

– – – – – – – –

Breadcrumbs are a navigational technique displaying all visited pages leading from the home page to the currently viewed page. All pages are linked for easy backwards navigation. Typically this is placed near the top of a web page. So for example, if you look to the top of this page you will see the breadcrumb navigation menu that leads a path back to the homepage.

There are loads of WordPress plugins out there that can handle breadcrumbs for you, but they are not always the best option as they can often get things wrong and end up being more hassle than they are worth. The following code will have breadcrumbs working on your site in no time.

Simply paste the code below into your theme’s functions.php file:

// Breadcrumbs
function custom_breadcrumbs() {
     
    // Settings
    $separator  		= '>';
    $breadcrums_id  	= 'breadcrumbs';
    $breadcrums_class  	= 'breadcrumbs';
    $home_title 		= 'Homepage';
	
	// If you have any custom post types with custom taxonomies, put the taxonomy name below (e.g. product_cat)
    $custom_taxonomy	= 'product_cat';
     
    // Get the query & post information
    global $post,$wp_query;
     
    // Do not display on the homepage
    if ( !is_front_page() ) {
     
		// Build the breadcrums
		echo '<ul id="' . $breadcrums_id . '" class="' . $class . '">';
         
        // Home page
        echo '<li class="item-home"><a class="bread-link bread-home" href="' . get_home_url() . '" title="' . $home_title . '">' . $home_title . '</a></li>';
        echo '<li class="separator separator-home"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
         
        if ( is_archive() && !is_tax() && !is_category() ) {
			
			echo '<li class="item-current item-archive"><strong class="bread-current bread-archive">' . post_type_archive_title($prefix, false) . '</strong></li>';
			
		} else if ( is_archive() && is_tax() && !is_category() ) {
			
			// If post is a custom post type
			$post_type = get_post_type();
			
			// If it is a custom post type display name and link
			if($post_type != 'post') {
				
				$post_type_object = get_post_type_object($post_type);
				$post_type_archive = get_post_type_archive_link($post_type);
			
				echo '<li class="item-cat item-custom-post-type-' . $post_type . '"><a class="bread-cat bread-custom-post-type-' . $post_type . '" href="' . $post_type_archive . '" title="' . $post_type_object->labels->name . '">' . $post_type_object->labels->name . '</a></li>';
				echo '<li class="separator"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
			
			}
			
			$custom_tax_name = get_queried_object()->name;
			echo '<li class="item-current item-archive"><strong class="bread-current bread-archive">' . $custom_tax_name . '</strong></li>';
			
		} else if ( is_single() ) {
			
			// If post is a custom post type
			$post_type = get_post_type();
			
			// If it is a custom post type display name and link
			if($post_type != 'post') {
				
				$post_type_object = get_post_type_object($post_type);
				$post_type_archive = get_post_type_archive_link($post_type);
			
				echo '<li class="item-cat item-custom-post-type-' . $post_type . '"><a class="bread-cat bread-custom-post-type-' . $post_type . '" href="' . $post_type_archive . '" title="' . $post_type_object->labels->name . '">' . $post_type_object->labels->name . '</a></li>';
				echo '<li class="separator"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
			
			}
            
			// Get post category info
			$category = get_the_category();
			
			// Get last category post is in
			$last_category = end(array_values($category));
			
			// Get parent any categories and create array
			$get_cat_parents = rtrim(get_category_parents($last_category->term_id, true, ','),',');
			$cat_parents = explode(',',$get_cat_parents);
			
			// Loop through parent categories and store in variable $cat_display
			$cat_display = '';
			foreach($cat_parents as $parents) {
				$cat_display .= '<li class="item-cat">'.$parents.'</li>';
				$cat_display .= '<li class="separator"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
			}
			
			// If it's a custom post type within a custom taxonomy
			$taxonomy_exists = taxonomy_exists($custom_taxonomy);
			if(empty($last_category) && !empty($custom_taxonomy) && $taxonomy_exists) {
				 
				$taxonomy_terms = get_the_terms( $post->ID, $custom_taxonomy );
				$cat_id 		= $taxonomy_terms[0]->term_id;
				$cat_nicename   = $taxonomy_terms[0]->slug;
				$cat_link 		= get_term_link($taxonomy_terms[0]->term_id, $custom_taxonomy);
				$cat_name 		= $taxonomy_terms[0]->name;
			 
			}
			
			// Check if the post is in a category
			if(!empty($last_category)) {
				echo $cat_display;
				echo '<li class="item-current item-' . $post->ID . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-' . $post->ID . '" title="' . get_the_title() . '">' . get_the_title() . '</strong></li>';
				
			// Else if post is in a custom taxonomy
			} else if(!empty($cat_id)) {
				
				echo '<li class="item-cat item-cat-' . $cat_id . ' item-cat-' . $cat_nicename . '"><a class="bread-cat bread-cat-' . $cat_id . ' bread-cat-' . $cat_nicename . '" href="' . $cat_link . '" title="' . $cat_name . '">' . $cat_name . '</a></li>';
				echo '<li class="separator"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
				echo '<li class="item-current item-' . $post->ID . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-' . $post->ID . '" title="' . get_the_title() . '">' . get_the_title() . '</strong></li>';
			
			} else {
				
				echo '<li class="item-current item-' . $post->ID . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-' . $post->ID . '" title="' . get_the_title() . '">' . get_the_title() . '</strong></li>';
				
			}
			
        } else if ( is_category() ) {
             
            // Category page
            echo '<li class="item-current item-cat"><strong class="bread-current bread-cat">' . single_cat_title('', false) . '</strong></li>';
             
        } else if ( is_page() ) {
             
            // Standard page
            if( $post->post_parent ){
                 
                // If child page, get parents 
                $anc = get_post_ancestors( $post->ID );
                 
                // Get parents in the right order
                $anc = array_reverse($anc);
                 
                // Parent page loop
                foreach ( $anc as $ancestor ) {
                    $parents .= '<li class="item-parent item-parent-' . $ancestor . '"><a class="bread-parent bread-parent-' . $ancestor . '" href="' . get_permalink($ancestor) . '" title="' . get_the_title($ancestor) . '">' . get_the_title($ancestor) . '</a></li>';
                    $parents .= '<li class="separator separator-' . $ancestor . '"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
                }
                 
                // Display parent pages
                echo $parents;
                 
                // Current page
                echo '<li class="item-current item-' . $post->ID . '"><strong title="' . get_the_title() . '"> ' . get_the_title() . '</strong></li>';
                 
            } else {
                 
                // Just display current page if not parents
                echo '<li class="item-current item-' . $post->ID . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-' . $post->ID . '"> ' . get_the_title() . '</strong></li>';
                 
            }
             
        } else if ( is_tag() ) {
             
            // Tag page
             
            // Get tag information
            $term_id = get_query_var('tag_id');
            $taxonomy = 'post_tag';
            $args ='include=' . $term_id;
            $terms = get_terms( $taxonomy, $args );
             
            // Display the tag name
            echo '<li class="item-current item-tag-' . $terms&#91;0&#93;->term_id . ' item-tag-' . $terms[0]->slug . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-tag-' . $terms&#91;0&#93;->term_id . ' bread-tag-' . $terms[0]->slug . '">' . $terms[0]->name . '</strong></li>';
         
        } elseif ( is_day() ) {
             
            // Day archive
             
            // Year link
            echo '<li class="item-year item-year-' . get_the_time('Y') . '"><a class="bread-year bread-year-' . get_the_time('Y') . '" href="' . get_year_link( get_the_time('Y') ) . '" title="' . get_the_time('Y') . '">' . get_the_time('Y') . ' Archives</a></li>';
            echo '<li class="separator separator-' . get_the_time('Y') . '"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
             
            // Month link
            echo '<li class="item-month item-month-' . get_the_time('m') . '"><a class="bread-month bread-month-' . get_the_time('m') . '" href="' . get_month_link( get_the_time('Y'), get_the_time('m') ) . '" title="' . get_the_time('M') . '">' . get_the_time('M') . ' Archives</a></li>';
            echo '<li class="separator separator-' . get_the_time('m') . '"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
             
            // Day display
            echo '<li class="item-current item-' . get_the_time('j') . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-' . get_the_time('j') . '"> ' . get_the_time('jS') . ' ' . get_the_time('M') . ' Archives</strong></li>';
             
        } else if ( is_month() ) {
             
            // Month Archive
             
            // Year link
            echo '<li class="item-year item-year-' . get_the_time('Y') . '"><a class="bread-year bread-year-' . get_the_time('Y') . '" href="' . get_year_link( get_the_time('Y') ) . '" title="' . get_the_time('Y') . '">' . get_the_time('Y') . ' Archives</a></li>';
            echo '<li class="separator separator-' . get_the_time('Y') . '"> ' . $separator . ' </li>';
             
            // Month display
            echo '<li class="item-month item-month-' . get_the_time('m') . '"><strong class="bread-month bread-month-' . get_the_time('m') . '" title="' . get_the_time('M') . '">' . get_the_time('M') . ' Archives</strong></li>';
             
        } else if ( is_year() ) {
             
            // Display year archive
            echo '<li class="item-current item-current-' . get_the_time('Y') . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-current-' . get_the_time('Y') . '" title="' . get_the_time('Y') . '">' . get_the_time('Y') . ' Archives</strong></li>';
             
        } else if ( is_author() ) {
             
            // Auhor archive
             
            // Get the author information
            global $author;
            $userdata = get_userdata( $author );
             
            // Display author name
            echo '<li class="item-current item-current-' . $userdata->user_nicename . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-current-' . $userdata->user_nicename . '" title="' . $userdata->display_name . '">' . 'Author: ' . $userdata->display_name . '</strong></li>';
         
        } else if ( get_query_var('paged') ) {
             
            // Paginated archives
            echo '<li class="item-current item-current-' . get_query_var('paged') . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-current-' . get_query_var('paged') . '" title="Page ' . get_query_var('paged') . '">'.__('Page') . ' ' . get_query_var('paged') . '</strong></li>';
             
        } else if ( is_search() ) {
         
            // Search results page
            echo '<li class="item-current item-current-' . get_search_query() . '"><strong class="bread-current bread-current-' . get_search_query() . '" title="Search results for: ' . get_search_query() . '">Search results for: ' . get_search_query() . '</strong></li>';
         
        } elseif ( is_404() ) {
             
            // 404 page
            echo '<li>' . 'Error 404' . '</li>';
        }
     
		echo '</ul>';
         
    }
     
}

Then to call the breadcrumbs onto your page (usually in the header file), simply use the following code:

<?php custom_breadcrumbs(); ?>

Styling your breadcrumbs

Now the breadcrumbs need a bit of tidying up. Below is some basic CSS styles to get you going.


#breadcrumbs{
    list-style:none;
    margin:10px 0;
    overflow:hidden;
}
 
#breadcrumbs li{
    display:inline-block;
	vertical-align:middle;
    margin-right:15px;
}
 
#breadcrumbs .separator{
    font-size:18px;
	font-weight:100;
    color:#ccc;
}

Disclaimer

If you are a beginner with no coding experience we advise using a breadcrumbs plugin, WordPress SEO has a great breadcrumb feature. Please be aware that not every WordPress install or theme is the same and this code may need slight adjustments in order to get it working correctly.

Some people may experience a white screen or undesired behavior after adding this function. We suggest anyone adding this to their site to do so via FTP and not the WordPress file editor. Use this code at your own risk, but if you do have any issues with this code please let us know in the comments and we will try to assist in any way we can.

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