If you’ve got a lot of content, you can use topics to create even more hierarchy in your course. Some course admins might only create section headings, and add lessons to each section, but topics give you one additional level of organization.

Topics must be added to lessons. You cannot have a course with only topics. If your course only requires one level of hierarchy, simply uses lessons instead.

Just like lessons, you can add many different types of course material to your topics—text, images, video, PDFs, presentation slides and more. You’ve also got a few additional display settings for topics. There are a few distinct differences between lessons & topics, all of which we’ll cover in this section.

  • Global Topic Settings
    Settings applied to all topics on your site
  • Display & Content Settings
    Add materials, configure video settings, control assignment uploads & topic timers
  • Create Topic Content
    Add text & images, insert videos, embed interactive content, etc.

Lessons vs. Topics

In LearnDash, there are a lot of similarities between lessons & topics, but there are a few important distinctions. If you find yourself unsure about the difference between lessons vs. topics, let’s clear things up.

  • Lessons are listed above topics in the course hierarchy
    • You can have a course with only lessons, but you cannot have a course with only topics. Topics can only be added beneath lessons.
  • You can offer sample lessons, but not sample topics
  • You can only drip-feed & schedule lessons for a later date. There are no direct scheduling options for topics.
    • However, topics do inherit the schedule of their parent lesson. If a lesson is scheduled for January 1, 2020, all the associated topics will be released on January 1 as well.

Sections are very different from lessons & topics. To learn more, see our article explaining course sections.

Here’s a visual overview of lessons & topics compared.

Lessons Topics
Add Content
Text, images, video, links, PDFs, slides & more
Video Progression
Add Materials
Upload Assignments
Force Minimum Required Time
Sample Content
Schedule for Future Access
Topics inherit the parent lesson’s schedule

Global Topic Settings

The LearnDash topic settings screen is where you can set global options that will apply to all topics on your site. Topic settings are organized into a few sections, outlined below.

To access your global topic settings:

  1. In the WordPress admin area, navigate to LEARNDASH LMS > TOPICS
  2. Click the Settings tab

LearnDash global topic settings navigation

Table of Contents [show]

Topic Taxonomies (Categories & Tags)

LearnDash topic taxonomy settings

Using topic taxonomies is completely optional, but they provide an additional way to organize your topics.

  • LearnDash Topics Categories: This enables you to organize your topics into custom categories that are only available for LearnDash topics.
  • LearnDash Topics Tags: This enables you to organize your topics using custom tags that are only available for LearnDash topics.
  • WordPress Post Categories: This enables you to organize your topics using WordPress’ default category management system. These categories can be viewed & managed in the WordPress admin under POSTS > CATEGORIES. You can share them amongst both the Posts & Topics post types.
  • WordPress Post Tags: This enables you to organize your topics using WordPress’ default tag management system. These tags can be viewed & managed in the WordPress admin under POSTS > TAGS. You can share them amongst both the Posts & Topics post types.

Managing Categories & Tags

You can manage (add, edit, or delete) the WordPress and LearnDash Categories & Tags via the Actions menu:

  1. Navigate to LEARNDASH LMS > TOPICS
  2. Select the Actions dropdown menu
  3. Select your desired menu option

Custom Post Type Options

  • Search: Enable this setting if you want topics to be included in search results when using the default WordPress search form on the front-end of your site.

Search has nothing to do with Google search results. Google will index your topic pages regardless of this setting.

Topic Display & Content Settings

The topic content & display settings provide a way for you to use additional content in your topic, as well as make it a little more interactive. You can include additional topic materials, add some helpful logic to your video playback, allow users to upload assignments, and include a topic timer.

Table of Contents [show]

Locating Topic Display & Content Settings

  1. Navigate to LEARNDASH LMS > TOPICS
  2. Click on the topic you want to edit
  3. Click on the Settings tab at the top of the page
  4. Locate the section titled “Display & Content Options”

Topic Materials

Topic materials are supplemental materials needed for the topic. It is most common to include PDF files or other downloadable files in this area, but you can include anything you’d like (PDFs, images, downloadable audio files, links to other websites, etc.).

  1. Next to Topic Materials, turn the setting on
  2. Add your materials in the box (HTML is supported)

Topic materials are displayed to your users in a separate tab, alongside your main topic content.

Between video progression, assignment uploads & topic timer, only one of the three can be enabled at a time. Enabling one of these options will make the other two inaccessible.

Video Progression

Video progression is a way to require users to watch the entirety of a video before they can complete the topic. Please see our full guide on video progression.

Assignment Uploads

Assignment uploads cannot be enabled if either video progression or topic timer are enabled.

LearnDash upload assignment frontend example

To allow users to upload assignments to the topic, enable the Assignment Uploads option. You’ll be presented with a few additional options:

File extensions

You can specify exactly which file types may be uploaded.

  • Enter each allowed file type in the box (without the leading .)
  • Separate multiple file types with a comma
  • Leave blank to allow any file type to be uploaded

For example, enter the following to allow only Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint files:

  • doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx

Here’s a list of common file extensions »

File size limit

You can specify the maximum file size allowed to be uploaded.

  • Enter a number, followed by M (for megabytes)

For example, to limit uploads to 5 megabytes, enter 5M.

Your host also sets a maximum file size limit. The lower limit will always be used. If you’re having trouble receiving assignment uploads, you can contact your host and ask them to increase your maximum file upload size.


If you’d like to award points to a user when they submit an assignment:

  1. Next to Points, turn the setting on
  2. Enter the number of points to be awarded for a submitted assignment

Grading Type

There are two options for how assignments are graded:

  • Auto-approve (default)
    No grading or approval is needed. The assignment will be automatically approved & full points will be awarded.
  • Manually approve
    An admin or group leader must approve the assignment. The topic cannot be completed until the assignment is approved.

If you choose to manually approve an assignment, you have additional options:

Limit number of uploaded assignments

Enter a number in the box to specify the maximum number of files a user can upload for this assignment.

  • Leave blank for unlimited (default)

Allow file deletion

Enable this option to allow the user to delete their own uploaded files. This is only possible up until the assignment has been approved.

Topic Timer

Enabling a topic timer will require the user to spend a certain amount of time on the topic page before they can mark it complete. The topic cannot be completed until the set time has elapsed.

  1. Next to Topic Timer, turn the setting on
  2. Enter the time in the following format:
    • HH : MM : SS (hours : minutes : seconds)

LearnDash forced lesson timer example

Topic Page Content

The topic page content is where you have full control over adding whatever content you’d like to your topic. If you’ve added a quiz to your topic, LearnDash will automatically list it at the bottom of the topic page.

The topic page content you add here is your own custom information that will be displayed above any associated quizzes.

LearnDash topic page content overview

Table of Contents [show]

Where to Add Topic Page Content

  1. Navigate to LEARNDASH LMS > TOPICS
  2. Click on the topic you’d like to edit -or- Click the Add New button
  3. You will automatically land on the Topic page tab
  4. You can immediately start adding your content

This article assumes you are using WordPress 5.0 or greater, which includes the new WordPress editing experience (aka: Gutenberg). If you’re using the Classic Editor plugin, your experience will be different.

If you’ve chosen to use a page builder plugin (Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, WPBakery, etc.) to edit your topic content, you should refer to the page builder’s documentation on adding content.

Topic Title

Your topic title is the first thing you’ll see at the top of the editing screen. Look for a placeholder that says “Add Topic title.”

Most themes display the topic title near the top of the page, below your header and/or global navigation.

Topic URL

When you click inside of the “Add Topic title” box, you’ll see an area appear above, labeled “Permalink.” This is your topic URL.

The first two parts of the URL are not editable. They are determined by your site’s domain name and the topic slug you have chosen (which will be /topic/, unless you’ve customized your LearnDash permalinks).

You can edit the third part of the URL:

If your URL looks different than above, it’s because you’ve enabled shared course steps. You can still edit the final part of the URL. Learn more about shared course steps »

In most cases, the permalink should be a reflection of your topic title.

  1. Click the “Edit” button next to the permalink
  2. Type your new permalink
  3. Hit Enter, or click the Save button
Updating a LearnDash course URL in Gutenberg
This shows a course URL but topic URLs are edited the same way.

Topic Content

Everything below the topic title is a blank canvas for you to add your content. This is powered by the same WordPress editor used for pages, blog posts and other content types in WordPress.

Add text, insert images, embed videos or other multimedia content, link to PDFs or audio files… the possibilities are endless. You have full control over the type of learning experience you deliver to your users.

For more information on how to use the WordPress editor, please see the official WordPress Editor documentation.

The featured image is the main image associated with your topic. Most WordPress themes will display this image near the top of your topic page. It’s also the image we’ll display if you’re using the course grid add-on with the [ld_topic_list] shortcode.

  1. Look for the Featured Image panel in the sidebar
  2. If it’s not already open, click on it to open it
  3. Click Set featured image
  4. Choose an image from your Media Library, or upload a new one
  5. Click the Select button at the bottom
LearnDash set featured image
This shows a course image but topic images work the same way.
Was this article helpful?
Dislike 0