How to Efficiently Render HTML Markup in WordPress: A Practical Guide for Developers

wordpress templates

WordPress is an incredibly powerful and flexible content management system, allowing developers to create highly customizable themes and plugins. One of the essential features that contribute to its adaptability is the use of template parts. Template parts enable developers to break down their theme or plugin code into modular, reusable components, making it easier to maintain, extend, and customize. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using template parts in WordPress and provide a code example of how to render them.

Benefits of Using Template Parts in WordPress

  1. Modular code structure: Template parts help you organize your theme or plugin code into smaller, more manageable pieces. By breaking down your code into distinct template files, you can quickly locate and modify specific sections without having to navigate through a large, monolithic file. This modular approach promotes better code organization and maintainability.
  2. Reusability: Template parts can be reused across multiple areas of your theme or plugin. This allows you to avoid code duplication and maintain consistency throughout your project. When you need to make changes, updating a single template part file will apply those changes everywhere the template part is used. This leads to more efficient development and easier code maintenance.
  3. Readability: By separating your HTML markup from the underlying PHP logic, template parts improve the readability of your theme or plugin code. This separation of concerns makes it easier for developers to understand the structure and purpose of the code. By keeping your code clean and well-organized, you can quickly onboard new team members and reduce the learning curve for anyone working on the project.
  4. Easier collaboration: When working with a team of developers, using template parts can streamline the development process. Team members can work on different template files simultaneously without causing conflicts or overwriting each other’s work. This enables your team to be more productive and work together more effectively.
  5. Customization and extensibility: Template parts make it easy to customize and extend your theme or plugin. Developers can create child themes and override specific template parts to apply customizations without modifying the original files. This approach ensures that updates to the parent theme or plugin won’t overwrite customizations made in the child theme. Additionally, template parts enable other developers to easily extend your theme or plugin by adding new components or modifying existing ones.

Using Template Parts: A Code Example

To illustrate the use of template parts in WordPress, let’s take a look at a code example. In this example, we will render a template part and retrieve the rendered HTML markup.

function render_template_part($template_path, $args = array()) {
    // Start output buffering

    // Load the specified template part file and pass the arguments
    get_template_part($template_path, 'html', $args);

    // Retrieve the content stored in the buffer
    $rendered = ob_get_contents();

    // Clear the buffer and stop output buffering

    // Return the rendered HTML markup
    return $rendered;

This function takes two parameters: $template_path, which is the path to the template part file, and $args, an optional array of arguments to pass to the template part. The function initiates output buffering using ob_start(), loads the specified template part file with get_template_part(), and captures the rendered HTML markup in the $rendered variable. Finally, it clears the buffer with ob_end_clean() and returns the rendered HTML.

Now let’s create a template part file that renders the title, content, and categories of a post. Save this template part file as partials/post-content.php within your theme directory.

<!-- partials/post-content.php -->
global $post;
$post_id = $args['post_id'];
$post = get_post($post_id);

<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>
    <header class="entry-header">
        <?php the_title('<h2 class="entry-title">', '</h2>'); ?>

    <div class="entry-content">
        <?php the_content(); ?>

    <footer class="entry-footer">
        <div class="entry-categories">
            <span class="category-label">Categories:</span>
            <?php the_category(', '); ?>

You can use the render_template_part() function to render this template part with the $post_id argument, even when you’re outside of the Loop:

// Define the template part path and optional arguments
$template_path = 'partials/content';
$args = array('post_id' => get_the_ID());

// Render the template part and retrieve the HTML markup
$rendered_content = render_template_part($template_path, $args);

// Output the rendered content
echo $rendered_content;

Understanding Output Buffering in PHP: Capturing Template Part Output with ob_start(), ob_get_contents(), and ob_end_clean()

ob_start(), ob_get_contents(), and ob_end_clean() are PHP functions related to output buffering. In the context of the render_template_part() function, they are used to capture the output of the template part and return it as a string rather than sending it directly to the browser. Let’s break down their purpose and usage:

  1. ob_start(): This function initializes output buffering. When output buffering is active, any output generated by PHP (such as echo statements, HTML markup, or the output of functions like get_template_part()) will be stored in an internal buffer instead of being sent directly to the browser.
  2. ob_get_contents(): After initializing output buffering with ob_start(), you can use this function to retrieve the contents of the output buffer as a string. In the render_template_part() function, we use ob_get_contents() to store the output generated by get_template_part() into the $rendered variable.
  3. ob_end_clean(): This function clears the output buffer and stops output buffering. It’s essential to call this function after retrieving the contents of the buffer with ob_get_contents() to prevent memory leaks and ensure that the buffer is cleaned up properly. Note that if you want to retrieve the buffer’s contents and stop output buffering in one step, you can use the ob_get_clean() function instead.

Using these output buffering functions in the render_template_part() function allows you to capture the HTML markup generated by the template part and return it as a string. This gives you the flexibility to further process the markup, store it in a variable, or output it at a later time or in a different context, rather than sending it directly to the browser as soon as the template part is rendered.


Using template parts in WordPress offers numerous benefits, such as modular code structure, reusability, improved readability, easier collaboration, and customization options. By incorporating template parts into your theme or plugin development workflow, you can create more maintainable, extensible, and customizable codebases. The provided code example demonstrates how to render template parts, but keep in mind that there are many other ways to utilize this powerful feature to enhance your WordPress development experience.