Alternate Title – WordPress

We’ve been working on a site where the client wanted the page title to be different on the front end and the back end. They want a longer more descriptive title on the back end. On the front end, they wanted to customize the title for their customers to see. Basically something small and simple.

Immediately I knew that using WordPress Custom Tags would work perfectly for this. So we went with the meta-tag “alt_title” for their alternate titles. On my first attempt I edited the relevant .php theme files to do this for the title:

if ($p = get_post_meta($post->ID, "alt_title", true)) {
	$title = $p;
} else {
	$title = get_the_title($post->ID);
<h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark" title='Click to read: "<?php echo $title; ?>"'>
<?php echo $title; ?></a></h2>

However, that wasn’t quite good enough. They also wanted to be able to make an alternate name for page titles in a navigation. In their current navigation, using wp_list_pages, it was displaying the actual page title, not the alternate title. This took a little extra work, but finally, with a pretty simple piece of code. I added this function to the functions.php in their theme.

function the_alt_title($title= '') {
	$page = get_page_by_title($title);

	if ($p = get_post_meta($page->ID, "alt_title", true)) {
		$title = $p;

	return $title;

Now, all I need to do is apply this function to the the_title filter, with:

add_filter('the_title', 'the_alt_title', 10, 1);

But, if you remember, they want to see the original titles on the backend, so I actually needed to write it like this:

if (!is_admin()) {
	add_filter('the_title', 'the_alt_title', 10, 1);

I don’t know if there is much need for this functionality, but this could easily be turned into a WordPress plugin. There is still a little more work that would need to be done. But it works for our client’s needs.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome.

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