WordPress get_posts: How to Use This Useful PHP Function?

Trying to showcase specific content on your WordPress website? Or maybe you want to highlight recent blog posts on your WordPress homepage. That’s where the get_posts PHP comes in. With it, you can easily retrieve WordPress pages and posts or even custom post types from the database.

Professional WordPress services use get_posts function to create dynamic layouts to showcase the most relevant content. It helps improve the user experience of your website.

So, how do you use this WordPress get_posts function for your website? Let’s begin.

What is WordPress get_posts?

WordPress get_posts is a function, but it’s more accurate to call it a method belonging to the  WP_Query class. This class acts like a powerful search tool for your WordPress content. While WordPress has built-in ways to display posts, like the Query Loop, get_posts offers more granular control.

Loop displays all posts in a specific order, while get_posts lets you filter and sort through your content to find exactly what you need. You can specify criteria like categories, post types, dates, or even custom fields to retrieve a precise set of posts.

Why Use WordPress get_posts Function?

The get_posts PHP function can help ensure the best user experience in a WordPress website. Here are a few compelling reasons for using the get_posts function.

  • Granular Control: The built-in WordPress Loop displays all posts in a specific order. get_posts allows you to target specific content based on various criteria, offering much more control over what gets displayed.
  • Dynamic Layouts: Craft custom layouts that showcase relevant content in different sections of your website. Imagine a homepage with recent blog posts, a product page with related items, or a landing page with curated articles. get_posts empowers you to achieve this.
  • Improved User Experience: By displaying targeted content, you can enhance user engagement. Visitors are more likely to find what they’re interested in, leading to a more satisfying browsing experience.
  • Flexibility: get_posts works with various content types, including regular posts, pages, and custom post types. This flexibility allows you to tailor your content strategy for different sections of your website.
  • Integration with Themes & Plugins: Many WordPress themes and plugins leverage get_posts to display content dynamically. Understanding this function empowers you to customize these themes and plugins further to match your specific needs.

Overall, WordPress experts use the get_posts function to take control of how your WordPress content is displayed.

Want to improve the user experience on your WordPress website?

Common WordPress get_posts Parameters

WordPress get_posts offers a wide range of parameters to fine-tune your content retrieval. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most commonly used ones:

Author Parameters

Focus on posts written by specific authors.

  • author (int): Filter posts by a specific author ID.
  • author_name (string): Filter posts by author’s username.

Category Parameters

Target posts belonging to particular categories.

  • cat (int): Retrieve posts from a specific category ID.
  • category_name (string): Retrieve posts by category slug.
  • category__and (array): Include posts belonging to all the listed category IDs.
  • category__in (array): Include posts belonging to any of the listed category IDs.
  • category__not_in (array): Exclude posts belonging to any of the listed category IDs.

Tag Parameters

Showcase content associated with specific tags.

  • tag (int): Retrieve posts with a specific tag ID.
  • tag_slug (string): Retrieve posts by tag slug.
  • tag__and (array): Include posts with all the listed tag IDs.
  • tag__in (array): Include posts with any of the listed tag IDs.

Taxonomy Parameters

Utilize more complex taxonomies (like custom categories) to filter content.

  • tax_query (array): Construct complex queries based on custom taxonomies.

Search Parameters

Integrate search functionality within your get_posts query.

  • s (string): Keyword search for posts.

Post & Page Parameters

Specify individual posts or pages to include or exclude.

  • p (int): Retrieve a specific post by ID.
  • name (string): Retrieve a post by its slug.
  • page_id (int): Retrieve a specific page by ID.
  • pagename (string): Retrieve a page by its slug.
  • post_type (string): Specify the post type (e.g., “post,” “page,” custom post types).
  • post_parent (int): Retrieve child pages of a specific parent page.
  • post__in (array): Include posts with any of the listed IDs.
  • post__not_in (array): Exclude posts with any of the listed IDs.

Password Parameters

Control access to password-protected content.

  • password_protected (bool): Include or exclude password-protected posts.

Post Type Parameters

Retrieve specific content types, including custom post types.

  • post_type (string or array): Specify the post type(s) to retrieve. Useful for custom post types alongside regular posts and pages.

Date Parameters

Display posts published within a certain date range.

  • date_query (array): Construct complex queries based on post publish date, modified date, etc. You can define date ranges, comparisons, and relationships between dates.

Order & Orderby Parameters

Dictate how your retrieved content is sorted (e.g., by date, title, etc.).

  • order (string): Defines the sorting order (ASC – ascending, DESC – descending).
  • orderby (string or array): Specifies the criteria for sorting (e.g., ‘date’, ‘title’, ‘comment_count’). You can even use custom fields for ordering.

Custom Field (post meta) Parameters

Leverage custom fields to target content based on specific meta data.

  • meta_query (array): Enables powerful filtering based on custom field values. You can define key-value comparisons, existence checks, and more.

Permission Parameters

Control the visibility of posts based on user permissions.

  • post_status (string or array): Filter posts based on their status (e.g., ‘publish’, ‘draft’, ‘pending’).
  • author__in (array): Include posts by specific authors only (similar to author but allows for multiple authors).

Mime Type Parameters

Retrieve content based on file types (e.g., images, videos).

  • post_mime_type (string or array): Retrieve posts based on their media type (e.g., ‘image/jpeg’, ‘video/mp4’).

Caching Parameters

Improve performance by controlling how get_posts caches results.

  • cache_results (bool): Enable or disable caching of the query results.

Return Fields Parameter

Specify which data you want to retrieve for each post (e.g., only titles, or full content).

  • fields (string): Specifies which post data fields to retrieve. Options include ‘ids’ (just IDs), ‘objects’ (full post objects), or a comma-separated list of specific fields (e.g., ‘id,title,content’).

With these parameters, you can use get_posts to best curate highly specific content sections of your WordPress website.

If you want help with implementing the best user experience with get_posts on your website, consult with our WordPress development company.

How to Use WordPress get_posts Function?

With get_posts, you can retrieve specific content in your WordPress website with ease. But for that, you need to follow through a step-by-step process:

Step 1: Include the function

Since get_posts resides within the WP_Query class, you typically don’t need to include it separately. However, if you’re using the function outside the WordPress loop (e.g., in a custom template file), you might need to include the wp-includes/functions.php file:


include( get_template_directory() . '/wp-includes/functions.php');


Step 2: Define your query parameters

Create an array to store your query parameters. Here’s an example to retrieve the three most recent posts from a specific category:

$args = array(

  'numberposts' => 3,  // Retrieve 3 posts

  'category' => 5,     // From category ID 5

  'orderby' => 'date', // Order by publish date

  'order' => 'DESC'    // In descending order (newest first)


Step 3: Utilize the function

Use the get_posts function with your defined parameters:

$posts = get_posts($args);

This code snippet stores the retrieved posts in a variable named $posts.

Step 4: Process and display the results

Now you have an array of WP_Post objects in $posts. Loop through this array to display the content:

if ($posts) {

  foreach ($posts as $post) {

    // Access post data using properties like $post->post_title or $post->content

    echo '<h3>' . $post->post_title . '</h3>';

    echo '<p>' . $post->post_content . '</p>';


} else {

  // Handle no posts found scenario (optional)

  echo 'No posts found.';


This code snippet iterates through each post, displaying its title and content within HTML elements. You can customize this further to showcase specific post data or integrate it into your theme’s templates. 

Want more custom solutions for a better user experience on your WordPress website? Then consult with our WordPress web development agency.

FAQs on WordPress get_posts

Can I use get_posts with custom post types?
Absolutely! The post_type parameter allows you to specify custom post types alongside regular posts and pages.
How can I handle situations where no posts are found using get_posts?
In your code, include an if statement to check if any posts were retrieved using $posts. If $posts is empty, you can display a message like "No posts found" or implement alternative logic.
Are there any alternatives to get_posts?
The WP_Query class offers similar functionalities as get_posts. However, get_posts is generally considered simpler to use for basic content retrieval. If you need more advanced control over the main loop itself, then WP_Query might be a better choice.


WordPress get_posts helps create dynamic and user-centric content experiences on your WordPress website. You can move beyond the limitations of the default Loop and target specific content based on categories, tags, dates, custom fields, and more.

By strategically filtering and sorting your posts, you can craft dynamic layouts. It will showcase the most relevant content for each section, ultimately enhancing the user experience for your visitors. Start with basic filtering and gradually experiment with more parameters.

So, move beyond static content displays and create a dynamic and engaging website with get_posts. Contact with our WordPress professionals today!

Need help with your WordPress project?

Mehul Patel is a seasoned IT Engineer with expertise as a WordPress Developer. With a strong background in Core PHP and WordPress, he has excelled in website development, theme customization, and plugin development.

Leave a comment