The flexibility of WordPress is just one of the many reasons for it becoming – by far – the most used content management system in the world.
It’s also partly due to the open source nature of WordPress and the ease with which anyone can change the code so that their site looks exactly as they want.
For some things that’s easier to do than others. A common need site owners have is to change text in prominent website places like the footer.
For example, you might want to display your company name or something similar in your footer. Here’s how to do it.
The footer of a web page is exactly what it sounds like. It’s that part of the page at the bottom that often contains copyright information, links, social media icons and other information. By default the WordPress footer text often contains a simple line of code and a link to the theme developer’s website.
For example, in the default Twenty Sixteen theme that comes free with WordPress, the footer contains the text “Proudly powered by WordPress and a link to wordpress.org. In the free theme Zerif Light (which is really good, by the way) the footer text displays “Zerif Light by Themeisle” with a link to their site.
Often you’ll want to change this text to something more meaningful to you and your business.
These days most themes include the footer text in a theme option so that you can change it easily.
So, the first place to look for the footer text that you want to change is in your theme settings. Sometimes these settings will be in a separate menu on the left in your WP dashboard. This is usually the case in premium themes, like Divi. You should learn or know your theme well enough to find these options.
More often you’ll find the footer settings in the WordPress Customiser. Click Customise at the top admin bar in your WordPress site. Go through the settings on the left to see if something refers to your footer text.
In our example, the Twenty Sixteen theme doesn’t seem to have a place where I can change the footer text.
If you can’t change the WordPress footer text in the theme options or in customiser, you might be able to change it in a widget.
In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Widgets and see if there’s a widget set up in the footer area of your theme. This is less common nowadays but it’s still worth checking here. Sometimes it can be as simple as changing that widget text.
In my example, Twenty Sixteen has no footer widgets by default. Twenty Seventeen, on the other hand, has a couple of footer widgets but neither contains the footer text I want to change.
If you still haven’t found where to change the WordPress footer text at this point, you’re going to have to change the WordPress source code.
I don’t know why some developers don’t make this easy for non-programmers. Even the very popular Divi theme doesn’t make it easy to edit your WordPress footer code.
Whatever the reason, it’s time to edit the code of the site.
But be careful!
Now, a few words of warning here.
- Take a backup just before doing this. Remember, take responsibility for your own backups and don’t rely on your host’s backups!
- Ideally your site should be using a child theme. If not, the next time your theme gets updated the changes you make here will be overwritten. The Codex has a good description of child themes.
Even if you don’t use a child theme, editing the WordPress footer text is a quick change that you can make if the footer text reappears after the next theme update.
1.In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Editor
Some themes like Twenty Seventeen will give you a warning here. This is not to frighten you but to make sure you realise you can mess up your site when changing source code. Just click on I understand here.
Now you’ll see a main area of the page with your CSS loaded and on the right a list of files.
WordPress uses a simple modular template system to construct your website page. There is usually a footer.php which builds the footer. Likewise there is usually a header.php which builds the header.
Note: If you only want to make layout changes, edit the style.cssfile only and leave the template files alone.
2. Click on the file footer.php (or similar). In Twenty Sixteen the file title in the list will be Theme Footer and the file name beneath that is footer.php.
Now you’ll see the code from that file.
I know this code is intimidating at first. But don’t fear it; it’s what builds your site. If you’ve taken your backup and know how to restore it there’s nothing to be afraid of. If you mess things up, just restore that backup.
3. Find the text you want to change
To make this easier you can select all the code in the editor and paste it into an editor like like notepad++
So, the text we’re looking for in Twenty Sixteen is “Proudly powered by WordPress”. Towards the bottom of the code is the line
php printf( __( 'Proudly powered by %s', 'twentysixteen' ), 'WordPress' );
4. Change the text in here, delete it or whatever. There are a thousand things you can do in here. Some knowledge of how WoPress is coded helps, some knowledge of HTML also helps. But if you’re feeling adventurous, just experiment with what you want here. The code can be easily messed up but that change is also easily reversed.
5. Now, in another browser tab, load your website. If it’s already loaded press F5 to reload the page and check that the footer has changed.
Well done, you’ve edited WordPress code!
Unless… it hasn’t changed.
What if the footer text stays the same? Well, there are a few common reasons for this.
You may have caching set up. Caching is great for speeding up your website but there is a trade-off. Updates aren’t always reflected right away.
Browser Caching saves a copy of your web page on your computer. Next time you view that page it will load the local copy instead of downloading it again over the internet. Delete your browser cache and check the footer again.
You changed the wrong code
It’s entirely possible that you changed the wrong piece of code. Check the code in your footer.php again and see if the text exists somewhere else. Some themes are more complex than others and it can be trickier to find what you need to change. If you need help just let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to find it for you.
There might be other technical reasons for the change not appearing. Your file permissions might be set to prevent modifying the code for server security reasons, there might be communication problems etc. These are beyond the scope of a quick article like this so, again, if you need help just let me know in the comments and I’m sure we can solve it for you.
I hope that’s helped you change your WordPress footer text quickly and easily. When I went through it as I wrote this I ran into a technical problem with file permissions that prevented me doing it. Hopefully that won’t happen you.