Custom WP_query and Pagination

I posted this information below a few years back on Stack Overflow. It continues to be popular, so I’m adding the same information here… Feel free to upvote the answer if it works for you. 🙂

Unfortunately, to this day there isn’t a lot of good information about pagination with a custom post type wp_query. It’s very surprising considering the endless uses for custom post types (CPT) and how long they have been part of WordPress. Additionally, a lot of the information out there about this topic is unclear or in my opinion not the best advice. Anyway, moving on, I am here today to hopefully help someone out with this.

There are two ways that I would suggest to tackle the problem, though I strongly recommend option 1. Alright, time to dig in!

Option 1 – use max_num_pages variable

<?php
    $paged = (get_query_var('paged')) ? get_query_var('paged') : 1;
    $args = array( 
        'posts_per_page' => 1, 
        'paged' => $paged, 
        'post_type' => 'cpt_type'
    );
    $cpt_query = new WP_Query($args);
?>

<?php if ($cpt_query->have_posts()) : while ($cpt_query->have_posts()) : $cpt_query->the_post(); ?>

    // Inside of loop code goes here like usual...

<?php endwhile; endif; ?>

<nav>
    <ul>
        <li><?php previous_posts_link( '&laquo; PREV', $cpt_query->max_num_pages) ?></li> 
        <li><?php next_posts_link( 'NEXT &rarr;', $cpt_query->max_num_pages) ?></li>
    </ul>
</nav>

You’ll see above, a slightly different format for ‘previous_posts_link’ and ‘next_posts_link’ which now access the ‘max_num_pages’ variable. Be sure to use your own query variable name when accessing ‘max_num_pages’. Notice I use $cpt_query since that is the variable for my query example.

Option 2 – temporarily use the $wp_query variable for your loop query

This is what a lot of folks recommend, but be careful to asign the $wp_query variable to a temp variable and re-assign it or you will run in to all kinds of troubles. Which is why I recommend Option #1. As noted on CSS Tricks, you can do something like this:

<?php 
  $temp = $wp_query; 
  $wp_query = null; 
  $wp_query = new WP_Query(); 
  $wp_query->query('showposts=6&post_type=news'.'&paged='.$paged); 

  while ($wp_query->have_posts()) : $wp_query->the_post(); 
?>

  <!-- LOOP: Usual Post Template Stuff Here-->

<?php endwhile; ?>

<nav>
    <?php previous_posts_link('&laquo; Newer') ?>
    <?php next_posts_link('Older &rarr;') ?>
</nav>

<?php 
  $wp_query = null; 
  $wp_query = $temp;  // Reset
?>
NOTE: variation for option #1

For the pagination code in option 1, what you can do instead is use the popular WP-PageNavi plugin, but make one change in the code, remove everything within the “nav” element and replace with this code below:

<nav>
    <?php wp_pagenavi( array( 'query' => $cpt_query ) ); ?>
</nav>
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