A Beginner's Guide to WordPress Hooks

When customizing a WordPress site, you’ll need to make changes to the source code. But, there’s a problem with modifying the code of the WordPress core files: as soon as you will run a new WordPress update, all your customizations will disappear, and the core files will be overwritten. Perhaps, you may wonder that updating your WordPress site isn’t a good idea. But avoiding the updates can make your site vulnerable to attacks.


Wondering what you should do?

Thankfully, you can make the changes to the core files without losing your changes by using WordPress hooks. While many experienced developers commonly make use of hooks to modify the code of WP files, most beginners usually have confusion around the use of hooks. Through this post, I would like to dispel such confusion. Reading the post will help you understand what WordPress hooks are and how they can implement in a WordPress site.

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An Overview of WordPress Hooks

Overview of WordPress Hooks

Hooks are specified in PHP functions such as “Actions” and “Filters” by developers – that helps add custom code to several areas within a WordPress install without having to modify the core files.

Simply put, using hooks all your custom codes are placed in the child theme of your theme’s functions.php file. The benefit of using functions.php file is that it does not get effected whenever the WordPress core files are updated. Just remember to save the functions file before updating the theme.

Theme and plugin developers can also use action and Filters functions for making changes to the default WordPress functionality. In fact, actions and filters are two different types of hook. Using these hooks, you can create your own hooks. Let us discuss about these hooks one by one:


  • Action Hooks

Action hooks help to add custom code in different areas in WordPress. For example, an action hook can be used for creating a new widget area in your theme’s header or footer area.

While there are many action hooks, usually the wp_head action hook is utilized by the majority of themes and plugins for adding new stylesheets or processing code. Besides this, the add_action and remove_action hooks are used commonly for adding or removing any function from WordPress or the functions.php file.


Note: The action hook functions need to be placed in between the <head></head> tags.


The basic structure of an action hooks looks something like:


add_action ( ‘hook_name’, ‘new_function_name’, [priority], [accepted_parameters] );

function new_function_name() {

// enter your code here



Let us now see an example that requires creating a function within your theme’s functions file or site-specific plugin code. To do so, you will have to hook to an action using the add_action() function:



add_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wptest_actionhook_example’ );

function wptest_actionhook_example () {

echo ‘<meta name=”description” content=”Here you will find the meta description for this page.” />’ . ”


} // End wptest_actionhook_example()



  • Filter Hooks

Filter hooks let users manipulate the output. For example, this hook can help you add just a line or text at the bottom of your post content. Also, it can be used for performing several other functions such as changing the text format, truncating text, or any other requirement.

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The basic structure of filter hooks looks something like:


add_filter(‘filter_name’, ‘new_function_name’);

function new_function_name( $variable ) {

// Enter your code here

return $variable;



Essentially, the filter is the custom code that is added using the default add_filter() function, as follows:



add_filter( ‘the_content’, ‘wptest_filterhook’ );

function wptest_filterhook ( $content ) {

if ( is_single() ) {

$content .= ‘<div class=”sign-off”>That\’s all, folks!</div>’ . ”


} // End IF Statement

return $content;

} // End wptest_filterhook()



This code helps in adding a new div tag at the bottom of the website content area. Keep in mind, a filter hook resembles how the str_replace() function is used in PHP. Furthermore, bear in mind that with a filter you will have to return some value.


Understanding How to Implement WordPress Hooks

So, now that you have come to about what are hooks and how you can write a custom hook let’s proceed and see how hooks can be implemented. Two ways can be used to implement hooks in WordPress: you can place your custom code in functions.php file or can create a custom plugin.


I will be explaining how the latter works:

Creating a custom WordPress plugin might not seem difficult if you know how to create a stylesheet or can paste code within a functions.php file. However, there’s just one difference when you’re creating a plugin, and you will have to put functions in their respective file instead of a single file. In addition, you’ll have to add a plugin header just like the code below:




Plugin Name: Your Custom Plugin


// code for your custom function and hook will come here


After writing the code, you only have to place the file in the “wp-content/plugins” folder.


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Let’s Wrap Up!

If you’re searching for a way that can help you in making changes to your WordPress files without effecting the update or customizations you have made, then you should consider using Hooks. They basically make changes to the functions of a WordPress core file instead of the source code. Remember hooks can not only be used for extending WordPress but can also be used to make additions to the plugins or themes.


Author Bio :

Sophia has been serving as a trained WordPress expert with WordPrax Ltd. Also, she is a blogger by profession and write excellent write-ups, helping WordPress users to explore best ways to find a reliable WordPress developer.