404 Pages

A 404 page is important to add into your theme in case a user stumbles upon a page that doesn’t exist or hasn’t been created yet. It is also important that your 404 page gives your visitors a way to arrive at the right place.

These next few steps will help you build a useful 404 page for your WordPress theme.

Creating the 404.php file

As the 404.php file is used on a page not found error, the first step is to create a file named 404.php and add it to your WordPress theme folder.

Tip: Often times a great starting point for your 404.php is your index.php

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Add a file header

To use your theme’s header.php file, open your 404.php file. At the top, add a comment describing what the file is and make sure you include your theme’s header.

For example:

 * The template for displaying 404 pages (Not Found)

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Adding the body to your 404 Page

To make the 404 page functional you have to add the body content to your template:


<div id="primary" class="content-area">
		<div id="content" class="site-content" role="main">

			<header class="page-header">
				<h1 class="page-title"><?php _e( 'Not Found', 'twentythirteen' ); ?></h1>

			<div class="page-wrapper">
				<div class="page-content">
					<h2><?php _e( 'This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?', 'twentythirteen' ); ?></h2>
					<p><?php _e( 'It looks like nothing was found at this location. Maybe try a search?', 'twentythirteen' ); ?></p>

					<?php get_search_form(); ?>
				</div><!-- .page-content -->
			</div><!-- .page-wrapper -->

		</div><!-- #content -->
	</div><!-- #primary -->

This example is from the Twenty Thirteen theme that comes with WordPress. This adds some text and a search form in the 404 page.

Note: You can to add your own text to make your 404 page look better.

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The final step when creating a 404 page is to add the footer. You may also add a sidebar if you want.



Now you have a functional 404 page with a search form and some text in case a user stumbles upon the wrong page. Once you make sure the 404.php has been uploaded, you can test your 404 page. Just type a URL address for your website that doesn’t exist. You can try something like http://example.com/fred.php. This is sure to result in a 404 error unless you actually have a PHP file called fred.php.