How to Implement a Dynamic Copyright Year in Your WordPress Footer

In this tutorial, we will learn how to implement a dynamic copyright year in the footer of your WordPress website. By dynamically updating the copyright year, you can ensure that your website always displays the current year automatically. We will provide two methods: one using a hook and the other using a shortcode. Both methods will avoid the use of plugins.

Before proceeding with any customizations in WordPress, it’s essential to set up a child theme. A child theme acts as a safe and efficient way to make modifications without affecting the parent theme. If you haven’t set up a child theme yet, follow this tutorial on How to Create a Child Theme for Customization. It will guide you through the process and ensure that your customizations remain intact even after theme updates.

Method 1: Using a Hook

Add a Custom Copyright Function

To get started, locate and open the functions.php file of your WordPress child theme. Inside the functions.php file, add the following code snippet:

function my_custom_copyright() {
	$current_year = date( 'Y' );
	echo '© ' . $current_year . ' Your Website Name. All rights reserved.';
}
Code language: PHP (php)

Explanation:

  • We define a function named my_custom_copyright.
  • The date('Y') function retrieves the current year using the ‘Y’ format.
  • We concatenate the current year with your website name and the copyright text.
  • Finally, we use the echo statement to output the copyright text.

Hook the Custom Function to the Footer

To display the copyright text in the footer, we need to hook our custom function to the appropriate WordPress action. Add the following code snippet below the previous one:

function my_custom_copyright_hook() {
	add_action( 'wp_footer', 'my_custom_copyright' );
}
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'my_custom_copyright_hook' );
Code language: PHP (php)

Explanation:

  • We define a new function called my_custom_copyright_hook.
  • Inside this function, we use the add_action function to hook our custom copyright function to the wp_footer action.
  • By using the after_setup_theme action, we ensure that our copyright function is hooked correctly.

Method 2: Using a Shortcode

Add a Custom Shortcode Function

Inside the functions.php file of your child theme, add the following code snippet:

function my_custom_copyright_shortcode() {
	$current_year = date( 'Y' );
	return '© ' . $current_year . ' Your Website Name. All rights reserved.';
}
add_shortcode( 'copyright', 'my_custom_copyright_shortcode' );
Code language: PHP (php)

Explanation:

  • We define a function named my_custom_copyright_shortcode.
  • The date('Y') function retrieves the current year using the ‘Y’ format.
  • We concatenate the current year with your website name and the copyright text.
  • We use the add_shortcode function to register the shortcode copyright and associate it with our custom shortcode function.

Implement the Shortcode in the Footer

Via footer.php

Open your footer.php file, typically located in your child theme’s template directory, and find the section where you want to display the copyright text. Add the following shortcode:

echo do_shortcode( '[copyright]' );
Code language: PHP (php)

Explanation:

  • The do_shortcode function allows us to execute shortcodes in PHP.
  • By using the copyright shortcode within the do_shortcode function, we display the copyright text generated by our custom shortcode function.

Via shortcode in Text Widget

Go to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to “Appearance” > “Widgets“. Find the footer widget area where you want to display the copyright text and add a “Text” widget. In the “Text” widget, insert the following shortcode in the content area:

[copyright]
Code language: PHP (php)

Explanation:

  • By inserting the [copyright] shortcode in the Text widget, we display the copyright text generated by our custom shortcode function.

Save and Upload the Modified Files and Verify the Dynamic Copyright Year

Save the modified functions.php file (for both methods) and, if applicable, save the modified footer.php file (method 1) or the Text widget (method 2). Upload the necessary files to your WordPress child theme directory.

Visit your WordPress website and scroll to the bottom of any page. You should now see the copyright text displayed in the format “Ā© {current_year} Your Website Name. All rights reserved.” The {current_year} will be dynamically updated to the current year both in the footer via footer.php and in the footer widget.

If you encounter any issues using the shortcode method in a footer widget, it may be because shortcodes are not enabled in WordPress menus and widgets. To enable shortcodes in menus and widgets, you can refer to our tutorial on How to Enable Shortcodes in WordPress Menus and Widgets. This tutorial will provide step-by-step instructions on enabling shortcodes, ensuring that you can use them in your footer widget effectively.

That’s it! You have successfully implemented a dynamic copyright year in your WordPress footer using both the footer.php and footer widget methods. Now your website will automatically display the correct year each year. Remember to use a child theme and follow WordPress coding standards to maintain your modifications.

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