I have found the following function to change the behavour of the Wordpress tag cloud:

function widget_custom_tag_cloud($args) {

    $args['orderby'] = 'count';
    return $args;
add_filter( 'widget_tag_cloud_args', 'widget_custom_tag_cloud' );

However, I need to change the order from 'count' to 'menu_order'. Changing this line:

$args['orderby'] = 'count';


$args['orderby'] = 'menu_order';

does NOT work.

Is it possible to do this or do I need to write a custom widget from scratch?

Thanks in advance for any help!

  • 1
    what to you mean by menu_order here?
    – birgire
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 11:13

2 Answers 2


Tags (terms) do not have a menu_order (see the design of the table in the DB).

If you want to give terms a 'menu_order' you will need to create this yourself.

As long as your WP is >= 4.4.0, you can make use of the feature term_meta.

This is to terms what post meta is to posts.

You can create a 'menu_order' 'custom field' for terms and then you can set the menu order when creating/editing a term.

The relevant functions are:





See here - https://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/add_term_meta

And when query, your code won't do the trick for term meta. You need to write your own widget, that contains get_terms(). E.g.

$args = array(
    'taxonomy'   => 'taxonomy_name', //can be array with multiple tax
    'meta_key' => 'menu_order',
    'orderby' => 'meta_value',
    'order' => 'DESC',

$terms = get_terms($args);

To build the UI in admin panel & saving functions for adding/editing term's meta, the proccess is a little long for a SO/SE answer, I think.

If you Google 'wp term meta' you'll find out how to do it.

You will need 4 or 5 functions in all.

The hooks you will use are:

{$taxonomy}_add_form_fields // add the custom field to the 'new term' form

{$taxonomy}_edit_form_fields // add the custom field to the 'edit term' form

create_{$taxonomy} // for saving the term meta from the 'new term' form

edit_{$taxonomy} // for saving the term meta from the 'edit term' form

manage_edit-{$taxonomy}_columns // OPTIONAL adds a column, for the custom field, in the terms table for the taxonomy

Or, use a plugin like this one (or copy the code in it).


If you mean term_order, then you could use the tag_cloud_sort filter to handle the sorting via PHP.

Here's an example, using usort:

add_filter( 'tag_cloud_sort', function( $tags, $args )
    // Nothing to do if no tags
    if( empty( $tags ) || ! is_array( $tags ) )
        return $tags;

    // Custom tag sort
    uasort( $tags, function( $a, $b )
        if( $a->term_order === $b->term_order )
            return 0;

        return $a->term_order < $b->term_order ? - 1 : 1; // ASC
    } );

    return $tags;
}, 10, 2 );

that can be simplified in PHP 7 by using the spaceship comparison operator:

add_filter( 'tag_cloud_sort', function( $tags, $args )
    // Nothing to do if no tags
    if( empty( $tags ) || ! is_array( $tags ) )
        return $tags;

    // Custom tag sort
    usort( $tags, function( $a, $b )
        return $a->term_order <=> $b->term_order; // ASC (swap $a and $b for DESC)
    } );

    return $tags;
}, 10, 2 );

The wp_generate_tag_cloud() function uses uasort(), but I don't think we need to preserve the index association here.


The wp_cloud_tag() function uses get_terms(), so an alternative could be to support term_order ordering in get_terms() via the get_terms_orderby filter. See e.g. a recent answer here. I just tested the term_order ordering by using the plugin mentioned by OP in the question that was answered there.

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