Compact Archives

Want to help your visitors navigate your blog posts with a better archive widget? Check out our Compact Archives review! This widget plugin gives you more advanced options for displaying your posts by publication date. Increase engagement and make use of old content by making your archive navigation easier.

Compact Archives Review

Why Do You Need the Compact Archives Plugin?

There is a default Archives widget in WordPress, but it doesn’t give you a lot of options.

Compact Archives Review - default options

Compact Archives Review - default widget

This widget might work fine for small or new websites.

But what if you’ve been blogging for years? Your archive widget will grow to take up your whole sidebar, since posts are grouped together by month.

When that happens, the widget is no longer user-friendly, and just plain looks bad.

It’s possible to customize the display of your archives in the sidebar if you don’t mind getting creative with PHP and CSS.

But if you want to give your visitors an easy way to browse all your blog posts by date — without messing around with complicated code — you’ll need a plugin like Compact Archives.

The Compact Archives plugin allows you to neatly display your archives by date:

  • in a widget in your sidebar, footer, or other widgetized area
  • as a shortcode in your posts, pages, or custom post types
  • with template tags in your theme files

How to Set Up Your Compact Archives

Using Compact Archives With a Widget

First, install and activate the plugin, which is available for free on WordPress.org.

Now you can navigate to Appearance » Widgets and you’ll see the newly available Compact Archives Widget.

Compact Archives Review - new widget

Click on the widget and select the area where you’d like it to be displayed, or drag and drop it onto the widget area.

You can type in your widget title, and choose a few display options:

  • Select the Style: Choose Initials, Block, or Numerical styles.
  • Transform Text: Choose UPPERCASE or just Capitalized text for your months.


Select your options and click the Save button, then navigate over to your site to see if you like the display.

Compact Archives Review - initials Compact Archives Review - numerical Compact Archives Review - month

Using Compact Archives With a Shortcode

You can also insert your archives into posts and pages using the following shortcode:


Adjust the display settings using “style,” “before,” and “after” parameters:

[compact_archive style="numeric" before="<p>" after="</p>"]

Using Compact Archives With Template Tags

To insert your archives in your template files, you can use this code:

<ul> <?php compact_archive(); ?> </ul>

The function also accepts “style,” “before,” and “after” arguments:

compact_archive($style='initial', $before='<li>', $after='</li>');

Documentation and Support

The Compact Archives plugin was originally created by Rob Marsh, and Aldolat added a widget for it. WPBeginner adopted the plugin and now maintains it.

For more detailed tutorials on using the Compact Archives plugin, including tips on styling your archives, check out WPBeginner’s Compact Archives article and the How to Create Compact Archives in WordPress tutorial.

Our Verdict

Compact Archives is a simple, lightweight, and easy to use plugin that gives you more options to display your post archives.

It’s a great alternative to the default archives widget for sites with large archives, and looks much more sleek and professional than the default.

We give Compact Archives 5 out of 5 stars. Here is the breakdown of our review scores:


Rating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star Full   5.0 / 5.0
Rating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star Full   5.0 / 5.0
Rating Star EmptyRating Star EmptyRating Star EmptyRating Star EmptyRating Star Empty   0.0 / 5.0
Rating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star Full   5.0 / 5.0
Ease of Use
Rating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star Full   5.0 / 5.0
Rating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star FullRating Star Full   5.0 / 5.0
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