Posts related additional data are stored in a meta table called post meta. Sometimes these meta data become very vital from your functionality point of view. Lets say we store the like counts of posts in terms of a meta key as _wti_like_count. This is fine as long as I am just using this to show the like count.

But can I use the same meta key to sort the posts by this value? Yes, we will discuss how we can sort the posts from a specific category. So in this case we will be modifying the category.php file inside the default theme folder since I am using the default theme.

// Get the requested category object
$category = $wp_query->get_queried_object();
$query = new WP_Query(
    array (
        'post_type' => 'post',
        'cat' => $category->cat_ID,
        'order' => 'DESC',
        'orderby' => 'meta_value_num',
        'meta_key' => '_wti_total_count'

if ( $query->have_posts() ) :
    while ( $query->have_posts() ) : $query->the_post();
        /* Include the Post-Format-specific template for the content.
        * If you want to overload this in a child theme then include
        * a file called content-___.php
        * (where ___ is the Post Format name) and that will be
        * used instead.
        get_template_part( 'content', get_post_format() );

    _e( 'Nothing Found', 'twentyeleven' );

So we are doing the following things to achieve the functionality.

  • Get the category id on the category page.
  • Get the posts from the selected category.
  • Loop through those posts and render them.

3 parameters are important here a) order b) orderby c) meta_key.

Since I need to show the posts by descending order of the like counts, I have used DESC value for order parameter. I want to consider the ordering based on meta numeric value, I have used meta_value_num for orderby parameter. I want to order with respect to _wti_like_count meta key so I have used the same for meta_key parameter. Thats all and you will see the posts sorted by the like count.


  • If you need to sort the posts by unlike count, then use _wti_unlike_count for meta_key parameter.
  • If you need to sort the posts by total count (like – unlike), then use _wti_total_count for meta_key parameter.
  • if you want to use this feature for WTI Like Post plugin, then its available only for the pro version since in this version meta data are stored.
  • For more details on WP_Query and its meta key/value parameters, please visit here.

Happy Coding 🙂

2 thoughts on “Sorting posts by meta key and value

  1. Thanks for the tutorial, it’s so useful,
    I am wondering, is there any function to display the number of posts using a specific metakey.
    if you can, please help me, I’d be so thankful

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