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How to control module display when linking to an article with no menu item

Normally, you control which modules display on a page by assigning modules to a menu item. However, in some cases you may not have a menu item that corresponds to each page of your website.

Linking From One Article to Another

One case where this is true is when you are linking to articles from another article. For example, you may have articles in your site that will not have specific menu items associated with them. Instead, you may be linking to these articles from other articles. In this case, you will not have a way to assign modules to individual articles.

You can still control which modules display on which articles by manually setting the Itemid portion of the link URL. Say, for example, that you will have five different "page types" that will display, depending on the article. Each "page type" will have its own combination of displayed modules. Here is how you can set this up:

  1. Create a menu called "hidden" and add a menu item for each of the five "page types." The menu item type will be an Article Layout.
    • Make sure the menu items are 'Published'
    • Do not create a "mod_mainmenu" module for the hidden menu. This menu will never be shown on your site, so no menu module is needed.
    • Assign the desired modules to each of these menu items in the normal way.
  2. Note the ID numbers of each of these five menu items. The ID number is shown in the Menu Item Manager screen.
  3. Create the link to the article, using one of the following:
    • Create the link manually by copying a normal Joomla link that is in the format: index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=xx&Itemid=yy, where xx is the ID of the desired article (from the Article Manager) and yy is the ID of the desired menu item "page type" (from the Menu Item Manager).
    • Use an extension such as the JCE editor or Linkr to create the link from the editor. Link to the desired article and manually add "&Itemid=yy" to the link, again where yy is the ID of the desired menu item "page type."
    • Any SEF component, such as sh404SEF or JoomSEF, that allows you to create custom URL's will work as well. When you create the menu item for one of the 5 "page types" that is linked to an arbitrary article (consider a dummy article), simply copy the non-SEF URL from that menu item creation page. It is referred to as the "Link." Then in your SEF component, create a custom SEF URL with that link you just copied, only edit the &id=xx where xx is your desired articles id number and add the &Itemid=yy where yy is the ItemID from your custom "page type." If it doesn't work, make sure you assigned the modules to your custom "page type" in the the module manager.

When these links are displayed, the modules assigned to the Menu Item corresponding to the Itemid=yy will display along with the Article corresponding to the id=xx. Note that you can still use the Joomla SEF URL option. In this case, the URL will be converted to the SEF format, but the correct Itemid will still be used.

Linking to an Article from a Module

The example above assumes that you have control over the URL used for the link. However, in some cases, the link is created automatically for you and therefore you don't have the option of manually changing the Itemid of the URL. Examples of this include the Latest News and Most Popular modules, both of which give you links to articles automatically. In this situation, you can still control which modules display when you link to an article. Here are three possible approaches.

  1. The simplest trick is to assign modules to All menu items. That way they show up no matter what. But you have to be OK with having the modules on every page.

  2. Another possibility is to use a hidden menu item with a Section or Category layout. You can do this on a "hidden" menu and not create a menu module for this "hidden" menu. This gives you a menu item so that you can then assign the desired modules to each layout. If you don't have an article layout for the article being linked to, Joomla will try to find a "similar" menu item and use the modules for that item. For example, if you create a hidden menu item with a section layout and assign the modules that that menu item, then when you link to an article in that section, the modules assigned to the hidden section layout will display. This also works for category layouts. There is a hierarchy for this, as follows:

    1. Article Layout
    2. Category Blog Layout
    3. Category List Layout

    Note that, if you have the Breadcrumbs module enabled, these hidden menu items will show in the breadcrumbs. This means that a user will be able to navigate to the hidden menu item (for example, the section list layout) from the link in the breadcrumbs.

  3. The sure way to fix this (but also the most work) is to create a separate menu item for each article. This is the most work, but it allows you to completely control the modules displayed for each article.

Controlling Module Display With an Extension

Another approach to the problem is to display modules using an extension that provides detailed control over where a module displays. A list of module management extensions can be found on the JED (Joomla Extension Directory).