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I would like to "highlight" a featured post above all other posts with a special indicator.

Is there a feature in WordPress that will do this or do I need to install a third party plug-in?

I am using a custom WordPress install (not WP hosted).

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Use the "sticky" feature.

In the "Page Attributes" metabox (labelled as Publish), if you click the "edit" link next to the Visibility option, there is a checkbox which allows you to "Stick this post to the front page".

Unless a theme overrides the default query, that post will show up above all the others. In addition, it adds the class name "sticky" to the attributes returned by post_class(), so you can style it however you want.

alt text

To add some text to your featured posts and highlight them, add a function like this inside the loop in your index.php (or loop.php, etc., depending on your theme):

if (is_sticky($post->ID)) echo '<span class="featured">Featured!</span>';

You can do the same thing with the css :before property, like this:

div.sticky h2:before {
     content: "Featured! ";

(assuming you're using h2's to display the titles of your posts, and you want to add the text before the title)

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Wow. Great response and I dig the screenshot too! That's great about the "sticky" class, but is there anyway to insert plain-text (such as the words "Featured") into an HTML element? – user1462 Nov 3 '10 at 23:27
You could do that in your template files. I'm editing my answer to cover that. – goldenapples Nov 3 '10 at 23:40

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