Blogroll With Most Recent Post in WordPress

WordPressThere is this thing on other blogs that I really like. If you go over to Ramona’s Voices, for example, you will see a list of blogs on the sidebar. But it isn’t just a list of the blogs, it also includes the most recent article that has been published at the site. This is very cool — especially for blogs like Frankly Curious that generate a lot of content. I’ve found that I get a lot more clicks from websites that list my most recent article than those that just list the website. And I’ve wanted to return the favor.

But when Frankly Curious was running on Nucleus, there was nothing around to allow me to do that. Almost everything I did that was special on Nucleus was hand coded by me. That was one of the exciting things about moving over to WordPress. But once here, I found that there was no easy way to do what I wanted. There is an RSS widget, but it is more for creating a whole section. Like over there on the right, you will see the “Category” section that lists the 17 categories that we use here. So I could great a “Ramona’s Voices” section and list the last five to ten articles. But I couldn’t create a section with all my blog friends and their most recent articles. At least not directly.

I searched online for ways to do what I wanted. And there were lots of articles. But they all depended upon widgets that WordPress no longer includes. It still amazes me that I never found what I was looking for, because clearly this is something that a lot of people would want to do. Well, after installing any number of plugins, I decided that I would have to do it on my own. Or not at all, because it wasn’t that important to me. But it turned out, it wasn’t all that difficult.

Individual Items

When an RSS widget is created, it is displayed as a list item (li tag) with the class “widget_rss.” So I starting mucking about with it. The main title — things like “Search” and “Calendar” and “Recent Posts” — are displayed with h3 tags. So that was the first thing I changed. I didn’t want hulking big letters with white on green. I also didn’t want the text too far separated from that above and below. So I changed it to what you will now see under “Friends”:

li.widget_rss h3 {
background: #ddd;
padding-bottom: 0px;
margin-bottom: 0px;
padding-top: 0px;
margin-top: 0px;

Another problem was that this header included an RSS image, so I got rid of it:

li.widget_rss img {
width: 0px;
height: 0px;
visibility: hidden;

And finally, I had to make the header link the right color and size. I’m not sure if I quite like this, but it works well enough:

li.widget_rss h3 a {
color: #333;
font-size: 12px;

The RSS feed itself is put in yet another list item — this is because you can put multiple articles under it. But I didn’t want any bullets. And again, I wanted to reduce the spacing between items:

li.widget_rss ul {
list-style-type: none;
padding-top: 0px;
margin-top: 0px;
li.widget_rss li {
padding-top: 0px;
margin-top: 0px;

The Header

Of course, in doing all this, I had no header. Thus, I had to add a fake header. For this, I just added a Widget Custom Menu with a menu that was empty. And what you get is the “Friends” section there on the right. Like most things, it isn’t too complicated after you know how to do it. There really ought to be some simple way to do it, and maybe there is. But I didn’t find it. So I figured that I would post my solution in case anyone else out there is trying to do the same.

6 thoughts on “Blogroll With Most Recent Post in WordPress

  1. There’s a sidebar on Frankly Curious?

    I guess I read your posts with such laser-like focus that I never noticed the sidebar.

      • Nope. 19″ display.

        For each of the websites I read on a daily basis, I’m in the habit of looking for the most interesting content (latest news / latest posts) and tuning out the other stuff.

        I don’t think I’m alone in that habit. That’s why I’m puzzled by Internet ads – who actual reads them?

        • I know what you mean. Actually, the sidebar is primarily for my own use so I can keep up on which comments need responding to and the main people I read. In my experience, very few people pay attention to ads, although I’m very grateful that a number of people use my Amazon link above. But I would say that something along the lines of one person in a hundred clicks on that rather prominent ad. But for sites that get hundreds of thousands of visitors per day, I’m sure that adds up.

          But just to be clear: you can see the sidebar on the right with greenish headers, right? I just want to make sure the page is displaying correctly.

          • Yes, I can see a sidebar with Search, Calendar, Recent Posts, etc. And at the bottom is a Donate button I hadn’t noticed either. I tested that and it works. Thanks for all you do!

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