WordPress’ Featured Image is one of those simple, yet kind of confusing features. I’ve been getting a few questions regarding Featured Images from clients and other bloggers, so let’s dive in.
What is the featured image?
So first, let’s talk about what a Featured Image is. A featured image is a visual representation of a post or page. While it’s official name is Featured Image, it also been called Post Thumbnail with even the WordPress codex calling it that!
This visual representation is used by themes to enhance the look of your blog by adding some visual breaks to all the text. This is where featured images get tricky. Their use is almost entirely theme dependent so how or when they are used changes from theme to theme.
Featured Image =/= Pinterest Image
That being said the biggest misconception regarding Featured Images is that they have anything to do with Pinterest.
WordPress’ Featured Image has nothing to do with Pinterest.
It gets confusing because many bloggers do use their “Pinterest” friendly image as the Featured Image. However, you don’t have to do this since in many themes the Featured Image will not even show up in your actual post.
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Usage Is Theme Dependent
As I’ve mentioned already, how or when Featured Images are used on your blog is almost entirely theme-dependent. Let’s talk about some of the ways themes use Featured Images.
By far, this is the most common way Featured Images are used. Themes will display Featured Images alongside excerpts in a blog pages or archive pages.
Similar to the use in excerpts, many themes (and plugins!) pull a post’s Featured Image to display in a slider.
In Posts / Pages
Sometimes, themes will include the featured image in a post. This becomes an issue when bloggers add the same image in the post itself and in the Featured Image option causing a double image issue. This is why a lot of themes don’t automatically add featured images onto the post.
Similar to sliders or excerpts, themes or plugins use the Featured Image when displaying posts on the sidebar or footer area for widgets such as “Popular Posts” or “Recent Posts”.
How to Add A Featured Image
So now that you know what a Featured Image is and how they are used within WordPress, let’s talk about adding them!
To add a Featured Image to a post or page, go to the post editor and scroll down until you see the “Featured Image” box. Click the “Set featured image” link in the Post Edit screen.
If you cannot find the “set featured image” link, scroll all the way to the top of the post editor, click on “Screen Options” and enable the Featured Image option is enabled.