I am developing a custom theme with custom post types involved. Custom post types have been defined via plugin 'Pods' (http://pods.io).

When writing a category.php, I realized, that the standard loop does not retrieve custom post types (CPT) posts which belong to a certain category. Is that right? If not, are there any template tags available to render CPT posts of a specific category?

Or is the right way to rather retrieve CPT posts via WP_Query?

2 Answers 2


Custom post types are by default excluded from the main query except on taxonomy pages and custom post type archives.

You can simply use pre_get_posts to correctly alter the main query (alter the query variables before the SQL query is build and executed) to your needs.

Just a few notes on pre_get_posts

  • pre_get_posts runs front end and back end queries, so it is very important to do the is_admin() check for queries only meant to run front end or back end

  • pre_get_posts alters all custom instances of WP_Query, get_posts() (which uses WP_Query) and the main query (which also uses WP_Query). You would want to use the is_main_query() check to specifically only alter the main query.

You can do the following in a plugin or your theme's functions.php

add_action( 'pre_get_posts', function ( $q )
    if (    !is_admin() // Only target front end queries
          && $q->is_main_query() // Only target the main query
         && $q->is_category() // Only target category archives
    ) {
        $q->set( 'post_type', ['post', 'custom_post_type'] ); // Adjust as needed
  • That did the trick, fantastic! Thnx
    – Bunjip
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 19:50
  • Glad it worked. Enjoy ;-) Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 9:59

You need to use taxonomy.php instead of category.php

Give little reading to template heirarchy on https://developer.wordpress.org/themes/basics/template-hierarchy/

All your custom posts will use taxonomy.php if you have some custom taxonomy defined.

For eg: lets suppose there are two taxonomies i.e tax1 & tax2

If you want the same template for both taxonomies then go with taxonomy.php

But if you want different templates for tax1 & tax2 then use

taxonomy-tax1.php & taxonomy-tax2.php accordingly

I hope i was able to clear out few things for you .

All the best

  • Thanks for your answer, @terminator. I'm going to try taxonomy,php as you suggested. I haven't used it so far, because I haven't actually defined a custom category taxonomy but rather used the default 'category' taxonomy with my custom post type. Hence, I was assuming that any standard category.php (or other archive.php) template file would also fetch CPT posts by default...
    – Bunjip
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 8:31
  • actuallly standard archive.php would do the job but not the category.php
    – terminator
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 10:12
  • If I use standard archive.php, Wordpress routing does not consider which category has been called. Say, if user requests example.com/category/my-category archive.php does not know the category id to filter cpt posts from. I guess, I'll have to get into hooks to alter the default query behaviour of the category.php template...?
    – Bunjip
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 10:49

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