I have always preferred including a menu file on my sites rather than repeating them on all the pages for the obvious reason that menu items sometimes change and it easier to change one file than change the links on all the pages that show that menu.

So anyway, recently I have also wanted to use CSS to highlight the active or current page the user is on using CSS, this is easy to do when the menu is on each page, but requires a little PHP when using a single menu included across your site.

So anyway here is my solution:

Here is the code for the navigation menu – I save this as a file called menu.php

$active[$current] = “class=active”;

<li <?php echo $active[1] ?>><a href=”index.php”>Home</a></li>
<li <?php echo $active[2] ?>><a href=”services.php”>services</a></li>
<li <?php echo $active[3] ?>><a href=”print.php”>print</a></li>
<li <?php echo $active[4] ?>><a href=”web.php”>web</a></li>
<li <?php echo $active[5] ?>><a href=”marketing.php”>marketing</a></li>
<li <?php echo $active[6] ?>><a href=”portfolio.php”>Portfolio</a></li>
<li <?php echo $active[7] ?>><a href=”contact.php”>Contact</a></li>

Then, just include the menu on your pages and indicate which of the menu links you want to give the CSS style “active”:

<?php $current = 3; include(“menu.php”); ?>

Lastly, don’t forget to declare a visual style for the css class “active” to make the current page link stand out from the others.

VARIATION – You can also change the menu code slightly to make the active page not linkable at all – this will further make the current page stand out from the other menu options. Here is an example of the code you would use for the links:

<li <?php echo $active[1] ?>><?php if ($current != 1) { echo “<a href=\”index.php\”>home</a>”; } else { echo “home”; } ?></li>
<li <?php echo $active[2] ?>><?php if ($current != 2) { echo “<a href=\”web.php\”>web</a>”; } else { echo “web”; } ?></li>

2 Responses to “PHP menu includes with css style to highlight active page link”
  1. Rosy says:

    The first code for css doesn’t work, the second, (active page not linkable at all) works great.

    Did anyone else have had the same problem as me?

  2. bj says:

    Okay, fine. But what if, as you usually do on static sites, you call the navigation in via an include so you only have to edit the menu in one file? Then you can’t “indicate which of the menu links you want to give the CSS style ‘active'” since it’s going to vary depending on which page the navigation is being included on.