The Ultimate Guide to WordPress 3.0 Comment Form Customization

With the release of WordPress 3.0, a new function is given to us to use. comment_form() will display the comment form on any given page with ease. This will be good for both theme developers and plugin developers alike. This new function opens up new doors and allows us to modify things that before were much more complicated.

In this article I will explain how to use the new comment_form() function within WordPress 3.0 to give better usability within our comments function inside of WordPress.

To use this function you can open up your comments.php file within your theme and view the code that should look similar to the following:

comments.php file

<?php if ('open' == $post->comment_status) : ?>

<div id="respond">
<h3><?php comment_form_title( 'Leave a Reply', 'Leave a Reply to %s' ); ?></h3>
<div class="cancel-comment-reply">
	<small><?php cancel_comment_reply_link(); ?></small>
</div>

<?php if ( get_option('comment_registration') && !$user_ID ) : ?>
You must be <a href="<?<span class="><?php echo get_option('siteurl'); ?>/wp-login.php?redirect_to=">logged in</a> to post a comment.
<pre><?php else : ?></pre>
<form action="<?<span class="><?php echo get_option('siteurl'); ?>/wp-comments-post.php" method="post" id="commentform"></form>

<?php if ( $user_ID ) : ?>

Logged in as <a href="<?<span class="><?php echo get_option('siteurl'); ?>/wp-admin/profile.php"></a>. <a title="Log out of this account" href="<?php echo wp_logout_url(get_permalink()); ?>">Log out »</a>

<?php else : ?>

<input id="author" name="author" type="text" value="<?<span class=" /><?php echo $comment_author; ?>" size="22" tabindex="1" />
<label for="author"><small>Name <?php if ($req) echo "(required)"; ?></small></label>

<input id="email" name="email" type="text" value="<?<span class=" /><? php echo $comment_author_email; ?>" size="22" tabindex="2" />
<label for="email"><small>Mail (will not be published) <?php if ($req) echo "(required)"; ?></small></label>

<input name="<span class=" type="text" />url" id="url" value="" size="22" tabindex="3" />
<label for="<span class=">url"><small>Website</small></label>

<?php endif; ?>

<!--<small><strong>XHTML:</strong> You can use these tags: <code></code></small>

-->

<textarea name="comment" id="comment" cols="100%" rows="10" tabindex="4">

<p><input name="submit" type="submit" id="submit" tabindex="5" value="Submit Comment" />
<?php comment_id_fields(); ?>
</p>
<?php do_action('comment_form', $post->ID); ?>

</form>

<?php endif; // If registration required and not logged in ?>
</div>
<?php endif; // if you delete this the sky will fall on your head ?>

</div>

You can delete the above code in comments.php file and replace it with the following:

<?php comment_form(); ?>

The WordPress 3.0 function – comment_form() has 2 parameters that can be optionally modified to your liking: Here is the example arguments that can be used:

<?php comment_form($args, $post_id); ?>

Now to explain what each of these parameters do so we know how to use them:

$args: This contains our options for our strings and fields within the form and etc.
$post_id: Post ID is used to generate the form, if null it will use the current post.

The $arg parameter uses the following values by default:

Default $arg Values

<?php $defaults = array( 'fields' => apply_filters( 'comment_form_default_fields', array(
    'author' => '<p class="comment-form-author">' .
                '<label for="author">' . __( 'Name' ) . '</label> ' .
                ( $req ? '<span class="required">*</span>' : '' ) .
                '<input id="author" name="author" type="text" value="' .
                esc_attr( $commenter['comment_author'] ) . '" size="30" tabindex="1"' . $aria_req . ' />' .
                '</p><!-- #form-section-author .form-section -->',
    'email'  => '<p class="comment-form-email">' .
                '<label for="email">' . __( 'Email' ) . '</label> ' .
                ( $req ? '<span class="required">*</span>' : '' ) .
                '<input id="email" name="email" type="text" value="' . esc_attr(  $commenter['comment_author_email'] ) . '" size="30" tabindex="2"' . $aria_req . ' />' .
                '</p><!-- #form-section-email .form-section -->',
    'url'    => '
<p class="comment-form-url">' .</p>

                '<label for="url">' . __( 'Website' ) . '</label>' .
                '<input id="url" name="url" type="text" value="' . esc_attr( $commenter['comment_author_url'] ) . '" size="30" tabindex="3" />' .
                '

<!-- #<span class="hiddenSpellError" pre="">form-section-url</span> .form-section -->' ) ),
    'comment_field' => '<p class="comment-form-comment">' .
                '<label for="comment">' . __( 'Comment' ) . '</label>' .
                '<textarea id="comment" name="comment" cols="45" rows="8" tabindex="4" aria-required="true"></textarea>' .
                '</p><!-- #form-section-comment .form-section -->',
    'must_log_in' => '
<p class="must-log-in">' .  sprintf( __( 'You must be <a href="%s">logged in</a> to post a comment.' ), wp_login_url( apply_filters( 'the_permalink', get_permalink( $post_id ) ) ) ) . '</p>

',
    'logged_in_as' => '
<p class="logged-in-as">' . sprintf( __( 'Logged in as <a href="%s">%s</a>. <a title="Log out of this account" href="%s">Log out?</a></p>

' ), admin_url( 'profile.php' ), $user_identity, wp_logout_url( apply_filters( 'the_permalink', get_permalink( $post_id ) ) ) ),
    'comment_notes_before' => '<p class="comment-notes">' . __( 'Your email is <em>never</em> published nor shared.' ) . ( $req ? __( ' Required fields are marked <span class="required">*</span>' ) : '' ) . '</p>',
    'comment_notes_after' => '<dl class="form-allowed-tags"><dt>' . __( 'You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr> tags and attributes:' ) . '</dt> <dd><code>' . allowed_tags() . '</code></dd>',
    'id_form' => 'commentform',
    'id_submit' => 'submit',
    'title_reply' => __( 'Leave a Reply' ),
    'title_reply_to' => __( 'Leave a Reply to %s' ),
    'cancel_reply_link' => __( 'Cancel reply' ),
    'label_submit' => __( 'Post Comment' ),
); ?>

The parameters of $arg are self-defined by names. Also remember that you can leave $arg as null if you wish and it will use the default.

You can also customize $arg using the comment_form_default_fields filter.
Example: If you wanted to hide the URL field on your form, you can simply insert the following code to your functions.php file:

Functions.php file

add_filter('comment_form_default_fields', 'mytheme_remove_url');

function mytheme_remove_url($arg) {
    $arg['url'] = '';
    return $arg;
}

All fields are also each passed through a filter of the form comment_form_field_$name
This gives us more options to use for each way of changing our output.
$name is the value used in the array of fields. So we can also hide it using the following:

add_filter('comment_form_default_fields', 'mytheme_remove_url');

function mytheme_remove_url($arg) {
    $arg['url'] = '';
    return $arg;
}

Using the comment_form() function is an excellent way to keep the code within your template clean. It gives you more ways to customize the comments form using sets of filters.
For users of WordPress 3.0 it is suggested you use this new code to replace the old style comment form code.

Customizing with Hooks

Using more hooks to customize our comments_form. Here are some more options and examples to show more on how this can be used.

The first hook is comment_form_default_fields. This lets us modify the three main fields: author, email, and website. It’s a filter, so we can change things as they pass through it. The fields are stored in an array which contains the html that is output. So it looks sorta like this:

array(
	'author' => '<p class="comment-form-author">...',
	'email'  => '<p class="comment-form-email">...',
	'url'    => '<p class="comment-form-url">...'
);

This simple method shows the generic way the code can display, but using other modifications you can change more fields like this:

function my_fields($fields) {
$fields['new'] = '<p>a new input field is here</p>';
return $fields;
}
add_filter('comment_form_default_fields','my_fields');

This allows us to add a new input field, or to modify the existing fields.

Fields are not the only items that can be changed. There is also a comment_form_defaults filter as well. It gets the surrounding text of the comments form.

Comment Form Default

$defaults = array(
	'fields'               => apply_filters( 'comment_form_default_fields', $fields ),
	'comment_field'        => '<p class="comment-form-comment">...',
	'must_log_in'          => '<p class="must-log-in">...',
	'logged_in_as'         => '<p class="logged-in-as">...',
	'comment_notes_before' => '<p class="comment-notes">...',
	'comment_notes_after'  => '<dl class="form-allowed-tags">...',
	'id_form'              => 'commentform',
	'id_submit'            => 'submit',
	'title_reply'          => __( 'Leave a Reply' ),
	'title_reply_to'       => __( 'Leave a Reply to %s' ),
	'cancel_reply_link'    => __( 'Cancel reply' ),
	'label_submit'         => __( 'Post Comment' ),
);

Everything that is displayed as a section of the comment form area are defined in this one place, so they can be modded to your liking.
Remember, that unlike the fields, when you add new parts here it won’t change anything. The fields get pushed through for display, so these
are just settings that get used randomly.

Filters are not the only way to change this. The comment_form function can accept an array of arguments as different parameters, and each of those
will modify the form as well. If you wanted to make a simple modification to alter the wording of “leave a reply” – Then you could change the following:

<?php comment_form(array('title_reply'=>'Leave a Reply, And Voice Yourself')); ?>

This allows us to have a more simple way of making changes without all the hassle of filters, but remember that the filters can also be useful and more powerful for other operations.

And Yes, There is More!

While the comment form is generated there are also some action hooks being called. If you choose to put something into the form itself while it is being generated you can do so by using the following:

Action hooks.

• comment_form_before
• comment_form_must_log_in_after
• comment_form_top
• comment_form_logged_in_after
• comment_notes_before
• comment_form_before_fields
• comment_form_field_{$name} (a filter on each and every field, where {$name} is the key name of the field in the array)
• comment_form_after_fields
• comment_form_field_comment (a filter on the “comment_field” default setting, which contains the textarea for the comment)
• comment_form (action hook after the textarea, mainly for backward compatibility)
• comment_form_after
• comment_form_comments_closed

Styling with CSS

Don’t forget your styling! Each part of the comment form contain classes and id’s that can be styled using CSS. You can check out the HTML output and see all of the entries to style to your liking. The output is also semantic and contains label tags.

In Closing…

I myself have been using this new function in creating themes for WordPress 3.0 and have found it to be really useful. If used correctly you can accomplish many different results that can better help your coding of a comments form for yourself or a client. Play around with the code and have fun – Feel free to ask any questions. Enjoy!

Kevin Stanley

My name is Kevin. I am a 30 year old freelance web designer. I have been working with HTML, CSS, and PHP for 6+ years - And creating websites using Wordpress for 3 years. I enjoy creating websites and also doing some graphic design using Photoshop and Illustrator. I hope everyone enjoys reading my articles and I look forward to your questions, comments, and feedback.

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Comments

  1. Lisa G. says

    I was afraid to dive into php, but gave it a shot after reading this. Never really love WordPress’ comment system. Thanks for the tips to get me started.

  2. Foong Cheng Leong says

    I totally agree with what you are saying eventhough this article is not suit to new WP :)

  3. says

    This post is really helpful. I am able to override ‘author’, ‘email’ and ‘url’ default settings, but I’m not able to override ‘comment_field’, it is getting duplicated, i.e. the default textarea is also appearing with my custom comment textarea. Any help would be appreciated.

  4. Milan says

    I drop a comment each time I like a article on a website or if I have something to valuable to contribute to the conversation. It’s a result of the fire communicated in the post I browsed. And after reading this article I was actually moved enough to drop a comment here

  5. Damian Smith says

    Brilliant article thanks! Seems to work perfectly well with the latest versions of wordpress as well (3.3)
    Made the code a lot cleaner as mentioned and seems to have made life easier when trying to implement the comments form into side areas ect. (Had a nightmare with previous use of the normal code)

    Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Muddasser says

    I had some issues regarding this problem in the hooks. you made it really simple and i solved them. thanks.

  7. Vendy says

    Thanks for this clear explenation, but does someone know how to make a theme with the comment_form() also compatible with WordPress <3.0 versions?

  8. Mary says

    Got scared after *at first* but it is worth reading. Will try to do this on a project I am working right now. Thanks!

  9. Fred says

    In CSS, selectors are used to declare which of the markup elements a style applies to, a kind of match expression. Selectors may apply to all elements of a specific type, or only those elements that match a certain attribute. Thanks.

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  11. says

    This is a nice post and helped a lot. But when I add a new field to the form, it doesn’t actually get sent anywhere how do you include this inside the confirmation e-mail or in the comment within the dashboard?

  12. Tramadol says

    I am in fact pleased to read this webpage posts which carries plenty of useful data, thanks for providing these data.

  13. abhiz says

    Amazing tutorial! now i can setup extra comment features in my wordpress blog! thank you very much

  14. charmy says

    Hi! Is there a fix so that comment field remember name and email of the commentator? I use graphene theme but the commentators have to manually type it in every time they reply.

  15. John says

    Most poeple would not like these messy links to put in the wordpress, But if you can do it, this is a great. You have a great knowledge in this area. Thanks for the share.

  16. Rishav says

    Hi, I am blogger but have hesitation using the wordpress but it seems to be simple and easy to get it done.

  17. Toko says

    Thank you very much.
    Your information is very clear. In one hour, I manage to customize the whole aspects of my comment section.

  18. Pritt says

    Hi,
    Good help provided by you, but i want to change on my site comment looks only, not a field, for me field is ok, just want to change a look, kindly provide some info, for the same, thanks .

  19. Sumeet Chawla says

    Nice article, The quick app creators are really helpful.

    P.S.: To Admin, Most of the comments are spam <_<

  20. Shaun Kowalewski says

    Thanks for the HTML code. This is great, clean code for php. I can certainly use this code for the professional wordpress comment form. Thank you. Things just get better!

  21. Dogan Kutbay says

    I copied your comments.php code, but its not working, there are some syntax problems.
    But thanks anyway.

    • Pete says

      There are several syntax error in the code unfortunately… Seems like the author simply copy / pasted it without paying any attentiont to testing it.

  22. Derek says

    thanks, that helped a lot. However, its still not clear how we can change the label of the textarea section. Its not in the filter as you posted it, and havent been able to find it somewhere else so far.

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    Oh, and for my blog, I don’t really want my friends to be my followers, unless they find it on their own. My blog is about something that most of my friend’s can’t really help me with. (Photography is the main subject)

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  86. says

    How can I add tab index to submit button in the new wp comments form? In my theme all I have is 'label_submit' => __( 'Post Comment' ),

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  93. simone says

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    great post, it helped me a great deal in customizing my form. I was just wondering whether it is possible to replace the submit button with an image without changing the core file.
    It looks as though there’s no filter that can be easily applied to the input/submit part of the form…anyone has worked out how to get it done properly?
    the only thing I can think of is filtering the whole form output before display and replace the input button with reg expr. It sounds like a dodgy workaround though

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  95. Sherie Waltersdorf says

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  107. Gerwitz says

    Great post, Love the subject. Whilst I totally agree with what you are saying I dont agree with what Amanda is saying about it. Could you expand a bit on what you are saying.

  108. Jim Anderson says

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  109. Kent says

    I agree with ryan. Very similar to the other post. Nice article though, appreciate your work.

  110. says

    Well this is the page I found to remove some of the default comment fields, so thanks for that.

  111. Storm says

    Hi,
    Is there any way to hide the comment form on individual posts, while leaving existing comments, or close comments but leave the existing comments. Don’t want to do it site wide, would be nice if it could be done on a per post basis, or create a category for posts with closed comments, while still displaying the existing comments.

    I have searched everywhere, can’t seem to find a solution.

    Thanks

  112. says

    when i try to copy the code,i find i have to copy line number with the code.it is unconvinient.i am sure there is better code plugins.suggest you use them instead.

  113. says

    i use wordpress for a year,have been using default comment form.get a lot of spam comment,i am gonna add a robo check thing to my comment form.this post is the most helpful one.it is just what i need,thanks.

  114. says

    Ottopress:

    “The first hook is comment_form_default_fields. This lets us modify the three main fields: author, email, and website. It’s a filter, so we can change things as they pass through it. The fields are stored in an array which contains the html that is output. So it looks sorta like this:”

    You

    “The first hook is comment_form_default_fields. This lets us modify the three main fields: author, email, and website. It’s a filter, so we can change things as they pass through it. The fields are stored in an array which contains the html that is output. So it looks sorta like this:”

    Do you know how much is the chance that 2 different individuals (even if they write about the same topic) use EXACTLY the same wording to explain things?

  115. says

    I found this post before the Otto post and Deluxe Blog Tips post, and I agree – Kevin should’ve given the other guys some credit too!

    Anyway, good post nonetheless, but I found it easier to just edit the “comment-template.php” file in the “wp-includes” folder.

    Is it a bad thing that I did this?

    I understand that anything I change in the “wp-includes” folder could be deleted if I upgraded WordPress, but if I made a back-up first and copied it back over after the update, I should be fine.

  116. Saad Bassi says

    @Ryan & Jeff

    I am afraid this is not applied here. Every one can see the WordPress codex to check any function. A credit would be due if author has got inspiration from them.

    I saw three ebooks which were explaining same function but no credit. If there is a credit due then it can be to WordPress codex :)

    • Lean says

      Yes… that’s true about the WordPress codex to check any function, however there is something called plagiarizing and that’s what Jeff did. Like oe Hana said in the comment above comparing what was in both articles. And here’s a quote of his comment also (there wasn’t really a permalink I could show you so you could click and see yourself)… notice how I didn’t copy and paste his comment and claim it as my own… :)

      Ottopress:
      “The first hook is comment_form_default_fields. This lets us modify the three main fields: author, email, and website. It’s a filter, so we can change things as they pass through it. The fields are stored in an array which contains the html that is output. So it looks sorta like this:”
      You
      “The first hook is comment_form_default_fields. This lets us modify the three main fields: author, email, and website. It’s a filter, so we can change things as they pass through it. The fields are stored in an array which contains the html that is output. So it looks sorta like this:”
      Do you know how much is the chance that 2 different individuals (even if they write about the same topic) use EXACTLY the same wording to explain things?

  117. Daniel says

    If i add a new input field using filters what happens with the value of the field on submit. Where does it go?

  118. says

    Just left commenting out of my new blog because I had no idea how to style or even find this… thanks alot really helped me out with this.

  119. John W. Vermaes says

    Sadly, comment pages are an often overlooked piece of a website’s puzzle with regard to usability and appearance. It doesn’t really make sense to me, since the comment page is, in my opinion, a very crucial part of a website (assuming you’re looking for feedback / trying to build a community). I think this article is a great stepping stone for pushing a website’s comment page to the forefront during the initial design / development. Thanks for sharing.