Category Pagination in Jekyll

7 years ago - #Jekyll#Ruby

This site is currently built on Jekyll. This site used to be built on Jekyll. I had a few requirements in switching my site over, and one of the big ones was being able to break content out into categories. Jekyll has logic for categories built in by default, so that was pretty easy. However, showing index pages for all the posts in a category was unsightly. Since a category index page would show all the posts for that category. On my site, that meant that hundreds of posts would show on a single page. That's cruel to both users and search engines. I wanted to break that up into multiple pages. While Jekyll paginates the main index page, it doesn't paginate category pages. So I created a plug-in that creates paginated category pages.

Since I was building this from scratch, I threw in a few more bits of functionality to cater to my particular site.

I wanted to have each category capable of having its own index page, but I wanted the following pages to follow a standard "list" style. This allows me to feature special items on the index page of, say, "Travel," but having the list pages after the first page be relatively simple.

Luckily, there's a pagination module built-in to Jekyll, so I didn't have to do too much new programming. It only affects the home page, however, so my task was to enable the functionality for categories as well.

Site Structure

In order for this to work, I have index.html pages set at the root of each category. My site before Jekyll conversion looks similar to the following:

+ index.html
+ blog
  + index.html <- index page for blogs
  + _posts
    + 2010-01-01-blog-post-1.html
    + 2010-01-02-blog-post-2.html
+ travel
  + index.html <- index page for travel
  + _posts
    + 2010-01-01-travel-post-1.html
    + 2010-01-02-travel-post-2.html

Each of the category index.html pages needs the following in the YAML front matter:

category: category_name

This is the piece that the code uses to identify a category index page that needs to be paginated.

You also need to have a file in _layouts called category_index.html that enumerates through the posts for that page and converts the results to HTML.

And finally, you need to make sure that pagination is enabled by having this in your _congif.yml file.

paginate: 20

The number denotes how many items should appear on each page.

On to the code

First, create a file called generate_category_pages.rb and places it in your _plugins folder.

The first class to create is the "Generator." All generators are called by Jekyll at site build, so if you want code that's going to create new pages or content, you want to sub-class this class.

When Jekyll calls a generator, it calls the generate function, so that's the first method to implement. In our class, it loops through all the pages in the site and if pagination_enabled? returns true, it paginates that page.

class CategoryPages < Generator
  def generate(site)
    site.pages.dup.each do |page|
      paginate(site, page) if CategoryPager.pagination_enabled?(site.config, page)

Next, we need to implement the paginate method. This is the guts of the code. It gets the posts for a particular category from the site object. It uses CategoryPager to calculate a number of things about the pagination. Most of that code comes from Jekyll's pager class.

After it instantiates a CategoryPager, it decides whether this is the first page of the set. If it's the first page, there's already an index.html page, so it only needs to send the pager information to the page. If it's not the first page, it needs to create a new HTML file. In order to do that, it creates a special type of page of Page that I've defined called (surprisingly enough) CategoryPage. I'll get to that later in this post. The page is created and added to the site.pages collection.

def paginate(site, page)

  # sort categories by descending date of publish
  category_posts = site.categories[['category']].sort_by { |p| }

  # calculate total number of pages
  pages = CategoryPager.calculate_pages(category_posts, site.config['paginate'].to_i)

  # iterate over the total number of pages and create a physical page for each
  (1..pages).each do |num_page|

    # the CategoryPager handles the paging and category data
    pager =, num_page, category_posts,['category'], pages)

    # the first page is the index, so no page needs to be created. However, the subsequent pages need to be generated
    if num_page > 1
      newpage =, site.source,['category'],['category_layout'])
      newpage.pager = pager
      newpage.dir = File.join(page.dir, "/#{['category']}/page#{num_page}")
      site.pages << newpage
      page.pager = pager



Next, we need to implement a couple of other classes. In the Jekyll pagination code, there's a Pager class that handles items such as the current page, the total number of pages, previous and next pages, etc. We want to use that code but add support for the category information. Here's the code for that class:

class CategoryPager < Pager

  attr_reader :category

  def self.pagination_enabled?(config, page) == 'index.html' &&'category') && !config['paginate'].nil?

  # same as the base class, but includes the category value
  def initialize(config, page, all_posts, category, num_pages = nil)
    @category = category
    super config, page, all_posts, num_pages

  # use the original to_liquid method, but add in category info
  alias_method :original_to_liquid, :to_liquid
  def to_liquid
    x = original_to_liquid
    x['category'] = @category


Next, we need to subclass the Page class for our specific needs. This code is very specific to my site, you may want to change the logic here to something more straightforward. Basically, I am creating a special type of page that is used just for showing category indexes. This code customizes the layout that's used and adds some information to the payload data.

# The CategorySubPage class creates a single category page for the specified tag.
# This class exists to specify the layout to use for pages after the first index page
class CategorySubPage < Page

  def initialize(site, base, category, layout)

    @site = site
    @base = base
    @dir  = category
    @name = 'index.html'

    self.read_yaml(File.join(base, '_layouts'), layout || 'category_index.html')

    title_prefix             = site.config['cateogry_title_prefix'] || 'Everything in the '['title']       = "#{title_prefix}#{category}"




To use this on a page, whether it be an index page or in the category_index.html template, use something like the following:

{% for post in paginator.posts %}

<div class="teaser clearfix">
  <div class="title"><a href="{{ post.url }}" title="{{ post.title }}">{{ post.title }}</a></div>
  <div class="meta"><span class="timeago">{{ | time_ago }}</span>{{ post.tags | tag_links }}</div>
  <div class="description">{{ post.description }}</div>

{% endfor %}

To see the whole code, go to the project on Github.

I've also included a filter in the main code for formatting next and previous page links. That's not required, but it helps me out.

blog comments powered by Disqus
One of my big hurdles in moving to Jekyll was making sure that people that stumbled across old URLs for my site would get to the new content. Creating redirects in Jekyll turned out to be a snap.
I've created a jekyll plugin to easily import photosets from my Flickr account into posts. In this article I walk-through the code and integration.