I wish to create different template pages for all Parent Categories and Subcategories. I was hoping to do it using the hierarchy (eg. something like category-parent.php and category-sub.php), but looking at the flow diagram I found, I don't think there's an option:

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I could manually add a category-$slug.php for the parent categories (as these shouldn't be changing) and then just use category.php for everything else (ie. the subcategories), but is there a better way?

3 Answers 3


You can do this using custom template and template_include filter. category-parent.php and category-sub.php both are not required. One can be category.php for parent categories and for child categories, you can use custom-category-child.php as category-sub.php is reserved for default hierarchy.

  • First create a template file in theme custom-category-child.php
  • Then add this code to your theme functions.php

Update: As Pieter suggested we can use category_template instead of template_include to save few lines. Additionally we should return current template when our custom template file is missing!

Read inline comments

add_filter('category_template', 'custom_cat_templates');
 * Create custom template for child categroies
 * @param type $template
 * @return type
function custom_cat_templates($template) {
    $category = get_category(get_queried_object_id()); //Get the ID for current queried category
    if ( $category->category_parent > 0 ) { //Check if it child category
        $sub_category_template = locate_template('custom-category-child.php'); //return our custom template
        $template = !empty($sub_category_template) ? $sub_category_template : $template; //return default template if custom templaet missing

    return $template;
  • You can just use the category_template filter. Also, your code will break if locate_template('custom-category-child.php') is empty Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 6:38
  • Yes, exactly, you should make provision for when custom-category-child.php is missing. Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 6:45
  • Updated code. Thank you I was not aware of this filter "{$type}_template" ;)
    – Sumit
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 7:01
  • My pleasure. Enjoy ;-) Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 7:02

If you do not want to take the scenic route posted by @Sumit (which IMHO is a better solution) and need do do things inside the category template, you can do the following

  • Get the queried object (currently viewed category). We will use $GLOBALS['wp_the_query']->get_queried_object() which is 99.9999% reliable opposed to get_queried_object() or even the suggested get_the_category(). You can read my interesting answer to the subject here

  • Use get_term() to validate the term object (you can also use get_category(), but is short, get_category() is just a wrapper for get_term())

  • From there, we can get the category parent and do what we need to do

We can try the following:

// Get the current category object
$category_object = get_term( $GLOBALS['wp_the_query']->get_queried_object() );

// Run our logic according to the value of $parent
if ( 0 === $category_object->parent ) {
    // Category is top level
} else {
    // Category is a descendant
  • You've since fixed it (added ->parent). You were previously testing to see if an object was === 0. Your fix is why I deleted my comment and removed my downvote. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 14:34
  • AH! I see, saw that when I reviewed my code and fixed it immediately Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 14:35

There is another way if you code the same in the category.php file. Check if the category is a parent category. And if so, then display parent code. Otherwise show the child code. This way you do not need to create multiple files for each category.

$category = get_term(get_queried_object());

if ( $category->category_parent > 0 ) {
    // Is subcategory
} else {
    // Is parent category
  • This is not a very reliable method Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 6:39
  • @PieterGoosen Could you elaborate a little further? I just about to use this method. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 12:07
  • The code has some serious flaws and will not never work unfortunately Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 12:43
  • 1
    Also, it relies on post categories, say a post has many categories, and the queried category is not the first category... Unfortunately, this is totally incorrect Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 12:46
  • @PieterGoosen I fixed the code, but my fixes were rejected the community. Very odd. I'm trying again. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 13:47

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