travis.media

How To Get The Primary Category Of A Post Only - Reusable Function

In light of WordPress's primary category feature, we sometimes just want to just retrieve that one primary category, not a list of all. In this post, I'll show you how to get the primary category of a post only.

First off, whether a post should have multiple categories or not is for another discussion. The answer is no….I mean…

Second, and more importantly, the functions the_category and get_the_category both return a list of categories. When we select more than one category in a post we get this option to make one of them primary.

But often the need arises to restructure a breadcrumb, post meta layout, etc. and we just want to get the primary category of a post only.

Here’s how to do it:

How to get the primary category of a post only

Shoutout to Jawinn for the actual code. All I did was “functionize” it to make it reusable.

So the function gets one parameter, the list of categories. So whenever using it, be sure to call the get_the_category function beforehand and then place the results in a variable which will be passed to the function.

To make it reusable, place the function in your functions.php, or more preferably in a custom plugin.

function get_primary_category($category){
  $useCatLink = true;
  // If post has a category assigned.
  if ($category){
    $category_display = '';
    $category_link = '';
    if ( class_exists('WPSEO_Primary_Term') )
    {
      // Show the post's 'Primary' category, if this Yoast feature is available, & one is set
      $wpseo_primary_term = new WPSEO_Primary_Term( 'category', get_the_id() );
      $wpseo_primary_term = $wpseo_primary_term->get_primary_term();
      $term = get_term( $wpseo_primary_term );
      if (is_wp_error($term)) {
        // Default to first category (not Yoast) if an error is returned
        $category_display = $category[0]->name;
        $category_link = get_category_link( $category[0]->term_id );
      } else {
        // Yoast Primary category
        $category_display = $term->name;
        $category_link = get_category_link( $term->term_id );
      }
    }
    else {
      // Default, display the first category in WP's list of assigned categories
      $category_display = $category[0]->name;
      $category_link = get_category_link( $category[0]->term_id );
    }
    // Display category
    if ( !empty($category_display) ){
      if ( $useCatLink == true && !empty($category_link) ){
      return '<span class="post-category"><a href="'.$category_link.'">'.htmlspecialchars($category_display).'</a></span>';
      } else {
      return '<span class="post-category">'.htmlspecialchars($category_display).'</span>';
      }
    }
  }
}
    </code>
</pre>

And for an example of its use:

<div class="highlight"><pre class="chroma"><code class="language-php" data-lang="php"><span class="nv">$category</span> <span class="o">=</span> <span class="nx">get_the_category</span><span class="p">();</span>

<span class="k">echo</span> <span class="s1">&#39;&lt;div class=&#34;post-category&#34;&gt;&#39;</span><span class="p">;</span>
<span class="k">echo</span> <span class="nx">get_primary_category</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="nv">$category</span><span class="p">);</span>
<span class="k">echo</span> <span class="s1">&#39;&lt;/div&gt;&#39;</span><span class="p">;</span></code></pre></div>

### Conclusion

And that’s how to get the primary category of a post in a reusable function!!

----------

** This article may contain affiliate links. Please read the affiliate disclaimer for more details.

About Me Author

Travis of

Travis Media

From agency work with WordPress and PHP, to freelancing full-time, to jumping into the corporate space and working on large, mission-critical projects as a DevOps engineer, I create content to share what I’m learning along the way and to help you, the developer, succeed in the industry. Read More
Explore

You May Also Like