I have customised index.php to display 6 posts:

// Get header
get_header(); ?>

<div id="primary">
<?php // Begin paginate and loop
  $temp = $wp_query; 
  $wp_query = null; 
  $wp_query = new WP_Query(); 
  if ($wp_query->have_posts()) : while ( have_posts() ) : $wp_query->the_post(); 
<h2><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2> 
<?php the_excerpt(); ?>

<?php endwhile; // End while ?>

    <?php previous_posts_link('&laquo; Newer Posts') ?>
    <?php next_posts_link('Older Posts &raquo;') ?>

<?php // Reset
  $wp_query = null; 
  $wp_query = $temp;  

<?php else: ?>
<p><?php _e('Please add some posts.'); ?></p>
<?php endif; // End loop and primary ?>

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>
<?php get_footer(); ?>

For this to work correctly, I need to set "Blog pages show at most" from 10 posts to 6.

As the theme I'm building will be used on a multisite environment, I'd like to set the default reading setting to 6 posts. Is it possible to change the default setting via functions.php?

I've taken a look at options-reading.php within the core of WordPress. Line 126 shows the following:

<?php _e( 'Blog pages show at most' ); ?>

Changing this value obviously doesn't update the database value without updating the settings page within WP Admin.

If you could point me in the right direction, that would be great.

2 Answers 2


You can use the wpmu_new_blog action to automatically set the default to 6 for new installs:

function wpse_139900_default_posts_per_page( $blog_id ) {
    update_blog_option( $blog_id, 'posts_per_page', 6 );

add_action( 'wpmu_new_blog', 'wpse_139900_default_posts_per_page' );

If you don't want your users to be able to change this setting, you can just override it instead:

function wpse_139900_posts_per_page() {
    return 6;

add_filter( 'pre_option_posts_per_page', 'wpse_139900_posts_per_page' );

Either way, you should never use your own query on top of the default loop - it's just unnecessary overhead that can be avoided by tweaking the main query.

  • Thanks @TheDeadMedic. I adapted this paginate technique to include an else statement: css-tricks.com/snippets/wordpress/paginate-custom-post-types. If you could link me to a better technique, I'd appreciate it :)
    – Sam
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 18:25
  • 1
    There's simply no need for the custom query. Just use if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post() without any custom WP_Query. The code I've provided will automatically handle the "6 per page" requirement :) Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:39

You have a slight syntax error here. You forgot $wp_query-> before the second have_posts()

if ($wp_query->have_posts()) : while ( have_posts() ) : $wp_query->the_post();


if ($wp_query->have_posts()) : while ( $wp_query->have_posts() ) : $wp_query->the_post();
  • 1
    Pleasure, glad I could be of some assistance. Enjoy Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 18:21

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