Perfecting your WordPress website’s layout can be a lot of work, but it’s also essential for User Experience (UX), engagement, and conversions. Therefore, it can be frustrating when a seemingly random error causes a disruption to your site’s display — such as your sidebar suddenly appearing below the content rather than to the side.
While there are a few potential causes, it primarily comes down to issues with the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) or Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Fortunately, the issues are relatively easy to fix, so you can quickly get your site back in tip-top shape.
In this article, we’ll walk through the common causes of this error, then show you how to resolve it in three simple steps. Let’s get started!
Common Causes of the Sidebar Dropping Below the Content in WordPress
Sidebars in WordPress are content areas meant to be displayed either to the left or right of the page’s main segment (or sometimes both). They often contain widgets, sign-up forms, links to related posts, or similar content that you’d want to include across your site.
Due to various bugs or errors, your sidebars may sometimes appear at the bottom of the page, rather than to the left or right. Needless to say, this can easily ruin a well-designed website.
The primary cause of this behavior is problems with either the HTML or CSS on your site. It is usually a result of direct changes you’ve made to your site’s code, such as a theme or plugin file.
For example, perhaps there is an extra or undisclosed <div> tag on the page. The problem could even be attributed to incorrect width and floating settings in your CSS. Fortunately, fixing this error is easy enough.
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How to Fix the WordPress Sidebar Below Content Error (In 3 Steps)
Now that you know the potential causes of this perplexing error, it’s time to correct it. We recommend running through the following three steps in order, moving on to the next only if the previous one didn’t work. Before getting started, remember to make a backup of your site just in case.
Step 1: Undo Your Most Recent Changes
The first step is also the simplest. If your sidebar moved after making a change to your site — whether that’s installing a new plugin, adding custom code, or anything else — simply undo it. Reversing the action both gets your layout back to its original format and helps isolate the cause of the issue.
So you can start by reversing the change and refreshing your site to see if the sidebar is back in its proper place. If so, you can then look for potential issues with whatever changes you were attempting to make. For example, if you installed a new plugin, check for alternatives. If you altered or added to your site’s code, look for any typos or syntax errors.
Step 2: Fix Unclosed <div> Tags or Remove Extra <div> Tags
Often, an unclosed or extra <div> tag in your site’s code is the cause of the WordPress sidebar error. These HTML tags define the boundaries of sections on your website. If they’re incorrectly placed, browsers won’t render the site properly (hence the wandering sidebar).
Here’s an example of a correctly-formatted page:
Below is the same page with an unclosed <div> tag:
You can see that what should be the closing <div> tag is missing the forward slash. As a result, the browser doesn’t know that it’s meant to be closed, and the content that should be outside the element is now inside.
To fix this, comb through any template files you’ve modified and look for missing or extra tags. Generally, these errors can be found in the “template parts” files of your WordPress theme. To get there, head to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance > Theme Editor.
Choose the correct theme from the drop-down menu at the top, and then locate the template parts section in the sidebar.
The templates that generate pages and posts are usually under the content section. Find the one you need from the list, check it, and make any corrections. Then you can click on Update File to save your changes.
If you know which file you edited, you can jump straight there. Otherwise, you’ll need to check them all for inconsistencies.
Related: Tutorial: Optimizing Your WordPress Website for Speed
Step 3: Correct CSS Issues
Another frequent cause of this error is found in your site’s CSS. The WordPress Customizer’s Additional CSS section enables you to add custom CSS to your site.
If you’ve used this feature or edited the CSS through other means, you may have formatted the code incorrectly. In the case of moving sidebars, the most common culprit is the “width” property.
You should double-check that the sum of the widths of the Content and Sidebar elements doesn’t exceed the width of the Wrap element. If it does, the smaller element will be pushed down in order to fit.
Related: How to Implement Caching on Your WordPress Website
Tools to Make Troubleshooting Sidebar Issues Easier
You can also troubleshoot the issue yourself without using code. There are several online tools online that can validate your code and check it for errors.
You can use the W3C Markup Validation Service to check HTML code. The W3C CSS Validation Service is the CSS counterpart. Online Web Check is also an excellent tool that works for both HTML and CSS.
These services are also fantastic if you just want a second set of eyes on your code, regardless of skill level. A quick double-check never hurt anyone!
You could also take fixing WordPress errors off your to-do list with our DreamCare service. Our team of experts handle everything on the backend of your site to make sure it’s safe, secure, and always up.
Additional WordPress Resources
Say goodbye to broken links and error messages! We’ve put together several guides to help you troubleshoot every kind of WordPress problem:
If you’re looking for more WordPress tips and hacks, check out our WordPress Tutorials, a collection of guides that’ll help you navigate the WordPress admin area like a pro.
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Solving the Sidebar Error
If you’ve spent time building a beautiful WordPress website, you likely don’t want anything to take away from it — least of all sudden errors. Fortunately, if the problem is that your sidebars are appearing below your content, the fix is relatively simple!
To correct the sidebar appearing below content error, you can follow these three steps:
- Undo any changes you made to your site just prior to the error appearing.
- Check for and fix unclosed or extra <div> tags in your code.
- Verify that your site’s CSS is correct.
If you’d rather spend your time working on your business instead of troubleshooting your website, consider switching to DreamPress. With our managed WordPress hosting plans, we take care of the problems for you, so you can stay focused on what really matters.