Adding a Custom Widget Area to a WordPress Template

The Codex has a chapter on how to add new widget areas (commonly referred to as ‘sidebars’) to a theme’s template: ‘Widgetizing Themes

This example here is to give you the direct code to add to functions.php and to the template of your theme.

First step: register the custom sidebar

– this goes into functions.php:

'name'         => 'Custom Widget Area',
'id'            => 'custom-widgets',
'description'   => 'a custom widget area',
'before_widget' => '<li id="%1$s">',
'after_widget'  => '</li>',
'before_title'  => '<h2>',
'after_title'   => '</h2>'    ));

Second step: the custom div with the dynamic ‘sidebar’

– this goes into the template at the location where you want the custom widget to appear:

<?php if ( is_active_sidebar( 'custom-widgets' ) ) : ?>
<div class="custom"><ul>
<?php if ( !dynamic_sidebar( 'custom-widgets' ) ) : ?>
<?php endif; ?>
<?php endif; ?>

The outer conditional statement makes sure that the custom div with the widget is only shown if there is actually an active widget in the custom area.

The most basic code to output the widget would be:

<?php dynamic_sidebar( 'custom-widgets' ); ?>

The parameter for registering the widget are taken from the example in the codex; you need to adapt them to fit the existing structure of your theme.
You will of course need to add some styles to format the new custom widget area according to your ideas;
for instance to style the title and to suppress the bullets:

.custom .widgettitle { font-family: arial, sans-serif; }
.custom ul { list-style-type: none; }