I have a custom field that contains a list of comma separated colors.

I want to randomly select one of those colors.

If get_post_meta returns an array I thought I could randomly pick from that array.

If I try to echo $rand_color_value it just gives me the whole array

How can I randomly select one color from the list in the custom field.

    $agrs = array(
        'post_type' => 'page',
        'tag' => 'colors'

    $colorLoop = new WP_Query($agrs);


    $theColor = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'colors', false);

    /*random color*/
    $rand_color = array_rand($theColor,1);
    $rand_color_value = $theColor[$rand_color];
    echo $rand_color_value; 


    <?php endwhile; endif;?>

    <?php wp_reset_postdata; ?>
  • What do you mean by "a list of comma separated colors"? A string of comma separated values? Or do you actually store an array in the option? Also what exactly do the variables $theColor, and $theWeight contain? Try var_dump(compact('theColor', 'theWeight'));
    – ndm
    Jun 12, 2013 at 14:36
  • The custom field contains something like: red,green,blue,brown. $theColor should contain the array from the custom field. $theWeight was a typo i have updated it now. From the custom field i want to pick a random colour like red. Jun 12, 2013 at 14:43
  • I'm still not sure about the actual data type stored in your meta data, your showing a string but you're talking about the option containing an array? If it's a string then I can tell you what the problem probably is, if it's an array then you'll need to do some additional debugging.
    – ndm
    Jun 12, 2013 at 14:55
  • It's a string, in the custom field called 'colors' I type: red,blue,green,brown. I want to randomly pick one of these colours and display it. I thought get_post_meta would return an array showing each color at a separate index in the array Jun 12, 2013 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


As the content of the meta data is actually a string (according to your comment), your code won't work. get_post_meta(), respectively get_metadata() will only deserialize the content if it's actually serialized.

So, if you can't change how the data is saved, ie make sure that an actual array or already serialized content is passed to update_post_meta(), then you have to manually explode your data into an array:

$theColor = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'colors', true);
$theColor = explode(',', $theColor);
  • I thought explode would work but it doesn't seem to. Is it because this is a string at [0] in an array? Jun 12, 2013 at 16:00
  • Yep, sorry, I forgot to change the $single parameter in the get_post_meta() call. I've updated the code in my answer.
    – ndm
    Jun 12, 2013 at 16:03

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