What is a Featured Image in WordPress?

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Within the WordPress platform, the featured image serves as the main visual for an article or blog entry. These images typically accompany the title of each post on your homepage and are also visible on various social media platforms.

Utilizing featured images is a strategic way to foster user interaction and amplify the number of page views. These visuals are not only appealing but are also employed by search engines and social media sites, enhancing visibility in search outcomes and news feeds.

While commonly associated with blog entries, featured images can also be designated for pages and custom post types within WordPress.

What is featured image in WordPress?

The featured image in WordPress is a representative image that is set to represent a post or page.

The vast majority of WordPress themes natively support featured images, showcasing them in a visually appealing manner throughout your site. Theme developers enable this feature by incorporating a snippet of code into the theme’s functions.php file, which also governs the dimensions and presentation style of the images.

Creative applications of featured images are often seen in WordPress themes tailored for photographers. Similarly, online news and entertainment portals frequently use featured images to draw attention to their articles on the homepage.

To add a featured image to a post, you can simply click on the ‘Set featured image’ option within the Post Edit interface. For a comprehensive walkthrough, refer to our guide on adding featured images or post thumbnails in WordPress.

Theme developers may include a default image that appears when no specific featured image is set. If your theme lacks this feature, you have the option to establish a default fallback image yourself.

For multi-author WordPress blogs, it’s possible to mandate the inclusion of a featured image for every post. Additionally, if desired, you can choose to conceal the featured image on certain posts.

Selecting Appropriate Images for Your Website

When choosing images for your website, it’s crucial to be mindful of copyright laws. Directly using images found through a Google search can lead to legal complications due to copyright infringement.

Fortunately, there are numerous resources available for sourcing free images that are safe to use on your blog. Some of our preferred options include:

  • Shutterstock, which offers a selection of free images, with more extensive options available through their subscription plans. We use Shutterstock for the WP Think site.
  • Unsplash, a well-known platform offering high-resolution images for both websites and other projects.
  • Negative Space, which provides a curated collection of copyright-free images.
  • New Old Stock, featuring a trove of vintage photos from public archives.

The term ‘thumbnail’ is often used interchangeably with ‘featured image,’ although ‘featured image’ is the official terminology. The WordPress Codex page about featured images is even titled ‘Post Thumbnails.’

However, ‘featured image’ more accurately conveys the purpose of these visuals, as ‘thumbnail’ does not fully encapsulate their role in representing the content of a post.

Cover images are distinct from featured images in that they are placed within the content area of posts or pages, often used to break up lengthy content into sections.

In contrast, a featured image acts as the emblematic visual for an article, positioned before or alongside the content rather than within the body of the article itself. For further details, explore our guide on the differences between cover images and featured images in WordPress.

We trust this article has expanded your understanding of featured images in WordPress. For more insights and tips on WordPress, consider perusing our Additional Reading section below.

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Additional Reading

  • How to Add Featured Images or Post Thumbnails in WordPress
  • How to Regenerate Thumbnails or New Image Sizes in WordPress
  • Cover Image vs. Featured Image in WordPress Block Editor (Beginner’s Guide)
  • Thumbnail Sizes
  • How to Set a Default Fallback Image for WordPress Post Thumbnails
  • How to Require Featured Images for Posts in WordPress