Limit widget to certain sidebar?

The question:

I have multiple “sidebars”, but not all of them are the same size. Not all widgets fit in all sidebars (for example, I have a “footer sidebar” where the client can place custom widgets, but they are wide, and don’t fit at all in the “real” sidebar). I want to give an indication when a widget is placed in a sidebar where it would not belong (change the header text color, for example). What would be the best way to do this?

The Solutions:

Below are the methods you can try. The first solution is probably the best. Try others if the first one doesn’t work. Senior developers aren’t just copying/pasting – they read the methods carefully & apply them wisely to each case.

Method 1

There is a widget_display_callback hook, which you can use to override the widget based on the sidebar and the widget (return false when inappropriate):

Method 2

I solved it using some CSS, similar to my trick to highlight my own widgets. The sidebar drop areas are div‘s with the class widgets-sortable and they have the id of your sidebar. Your widgets are div‘s with class widget, and and id of the form widget-[global_counter]_[widget_key]-[widget_id]. You can combine these to highlight correct or wrong combinations.

For example, I have a sidebar called footer that should only contain wide widgets. These widgets are recognizable because their ID includes -wide-. I want these in green, and all other ones in red with a strike through.

add_action('admin_print_styles-widgets.php', 'print_widget_hint_style');
function print_widget_hint_style()
    echo <<<EOF
<style type="text/css">
/* Less specific rule for all widgets */
div.widgets-sortables[id*=-footer] div.widget .widget-title
    color: red;
    text-decoration: line-through;

/* More specific rule for correct widgets */
div.widgets-sortables[id*=-footer] div.widget[id*=-wide-] .widget-title
    color: green;

Method 3

I’d probably define my own widget areas that get whatever widgets are put into it in the admin area, and only put that widget area in a specific location in the theme.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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