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Every now and then crazy things happen within WordPress that cause your site’s layout to delete your sidebar, or do something else strange like move it under your content or to the footer. The WordPress missing sidebar is usually just the result of misplaced code. Sometimes it’s caused by a theme, plugin, or even an update error. Thankfully, a little bit of troubleshooting is all it takes to fix it.
Troubleshooting the WordPress Missing Sidebar
The missing sidebar problem is almost always caused by a recent change that you’ve made. Such a change may be the result of:
- A new theme
- A new plugin
- A recent post
- Recent changes in code
Some of the fixes are simple. Others may take some time to go through the code and remedy. With a handful simple troubleshooting procedures this won’t be too difficult. Let’s take a look at a few examples and see how to fix them.
Settings and Simple Solutions
I’ve learned the hard way when troubleshooting to look at the simple things first. It’s too easy to spend half a day digging into code when the problem was a simple setting in a theme. Start with any recent additions or updates like code, themes, and plugins.
Before we dig into code, let’s look at a few things that are so simple they can be easily overlooked. Some of these might seem obvious to those with lots of WordPress experience, but even someone that has used WordPress for years might not have encountered them. For example, it’s possible to have used WordPress for years and never changed themes.
Widgets Disappear with New Theme
Sometimes the solution is as simple as needing to place widgets when you change to a new theme.
Themes have different widget layouts and when you go to a new theme they have to be set up.
In this example the widget areas are in place but there are no widgets within them.
Drag and drop your widgets and you’re back up and running.
Post Layout Settings
Many themes have extra settings that you might need to check. For example, Divi gives you an extra set of post settings. On the right side of the screen across from the posts title is a box called Divi Post Settings. Here you’ll find a dropdown box called Page Layout. You can choose from Right Sidebar, Left Sidebar, and Full Width. Full Width turns off the sidebars for that post. If you have sidebars on some pages or posts and not on others this could be the issue.
Make sure you haven’t missed an update. WordPress and themes are the most important for this issue. Sometimes you might have to reinstall WordPress or the theme.
One way this problem happens is through modifying the theme and then updating it. Once you update the theme all of your custom code is lost.
There are two ways around this:
- Use a child theme. When using child themes you’ll still need to make sure the parent theme is updated.
- Save your custom files and paste them back in after updating the theme.
Sometimes we make mistakes with code. Trust me… it’s easy to do. Something as simple as using a sidebar’s name instead of id is enough to damage your layout’s normally zen state. Sometimes this is caused by an error in the code that keeps the code from executing further. It can even be code within a post. When this happens, you can see the sidebars on every page except the page with that post.
Before you start experimenting and making changes with your code, make sure you have a recent backup. Trust me, it is possible to make it worse in which case a backup is your best friend. In fact, always make a backup before updating WordPress, themes, plugins, or making modifications to your code. If there are any issues, you can restore it to the original version.
Code Within Posts
Pasting code into posts can be tricky. When copying code from other sources it’s easy to miss a tag or accidently embed random code from word processors such as Microsoft Word (Word sometimes adds its own formatting. I once killed my sidebars by pasting Amazon affiliate code from Word). Typically random pieces of code within a post will move the sidebar to the bottom of the page.
Something as simple as an extra