Including jQuery and JavaScript files the correct way

I’m having some trouble with this. I’m not sure how to do it the correct way, and I read so many different techniques and ways to do it that I don’t know what to make of it.

Some questions and troubles I have:
– Should I deregister the jQuery that is included in WordPress at all?
I’m doing it right now with the following code:

function uw_load_scripts() {
    // De-register the built in jQuery
    // Register the CDN version
    wp_register_script('jquery', '', array(), null, false); 
    // Load it in your theme
    wp_enqueue_script( 'jquery' );
add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'uw_load_scripts' );

This works. Should I do this for everyone, like this, or for everyone but admin (so that backend uses the WordPress version?):

if (function_exists('load_my_scripts')) {  
function load_my_scripts() {  
    if (!is_admin()) {  
    wp_deregister_script( 'jquery' );  
    wp_register_script('jquery', '', array(), null, false); 
add_action('init', 'load_my_scripts');

This version doesn’t work at all actually, I get the WordPress jQuery-version and not the Google one.

Also, how do I add my own scripts (slider scripts, modernizr and my own custom.js) the correct way? I guess I should do this via functions.php as well and not in the header like I’m doing it now, but I’m unsure of how I would do that.

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First rule of thumb: do not deregister core-bundled scripts and replace with other versions, unless you are absolutely certain that no Theme, Plugins, or core itself will break due to the version change. Really, unless you absolutely need an alternate version of a core-bundled script, just use what is bundled with core.

Second, I strongly recommend hooking into wp_enqueue_scripts for script registering and enqueueing, rather than init. (It works at init, but from a play-nicely-with-others perspective, it’s best to use the most semantically correct hook.)

Third, to enqueue your own custom scripts, you use the same methods as above:

function wpse45437_enqueue_scripts() {
    if ( ! is_admin() ) {
        $script_path = get_template_directory_uri() . '/js/';
        // Enqueue slider script
        wp_enqueue_script( 'wpse45437_slider', $script_path . 'slider.js', array( 'jquery' ) );
        // Enqueue modernizr script
        wp_enqueue_script( 'wpse45437_modernizr', $script_path . 'modernizr.js', array( 'jquery' ) );
add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'wpse45437_enqueue_scripts' );

Just add whatever scripts you need to enqueue.

Hope this helps, look up the codex for wp_enqueue_scripts for more information.

  1. Dont use init to enqueue. Use wp_enqueue_scripts for front-end stuff and admin_enqueue_scripts for admin side. You can use init to register scripts though.
  2. The hook wp_enqueue_scripts only fires on the front-end (and not on the
    log-in page) – so you don’t have to check is_admin().
  3. Unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise, I would suggest registering and queuing scripts using functions.php for themes or in a plug-in otherwise. You simply put:

     function myprefix_load_scripts() {
       // Load scripts here
     add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'myprefix_load_scripts' );
  4. If the aim is to enqueue a script when a shortcode is used, you may wish to use wp_enqueue_script in the shortcode callback to queue it only when needed (this will print it in the footer since 3.3).

  5. You shouldn’t re-register the existing jQuery on the admin side. You may break something :D.

  6. Plug-ins should not re-register the existing jQuery.

  7. You should weigh up the pros and cons of re-registering jQuery. For instance it may break some plug-ins if you register an old version (maybe not now, but in the future…)

Fair warning: deregistering WP’s packaged version of jQuery in favor of your own can cause problems, especially if you aren’t extra careful to make sure that you change the version you’re pointing toward whenever WP updates its version. This goes doubly for plugins, which often (or often should, at least) write their plugins for maximum compatibility with the WP version of jQuery.

That said, your first version is correct – it’s hooked to wp_enqueue_scripts. Your second function is hooked to init, which may be why it’s not working properly.

Add your own scripts in a similar manner:

function bbg_enqueue_scripts() {
    // You should probably do some checking to see what page you're on, so that your
    // script only loads when it needs to
    wp_enqueue_script( 'bbg-scripts', get_stylesheet_directory_url() . '/js/bbg-scripts.js', array( 'jquery' ) );
add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'bbg_enqueue_scripts' );

I’m assuming here that you are loading scripts from a js directory in your current theme directory; change the URI parameter if that’s not true. The third parameter array( 'jquery' ) says that bbg-scripts depends on jquery, and so should be loaded afterward. See for more details.

if (function_exists('load_my_scripts')) {  
function load_my_scripts() {  
    if (!is_admin()) {  
    wp_deregister_script( 'jquery' );  
    wp_register_script('jquery', '', array(), null, false); 
add_action('init', 'load_my_scripts');

This isn’t going to do anything… I suspect you mean

if (!function_exists('load_my_scripts')) {

Your example will only load the function load_my_scripts if it already exists (which it doesn’t so it won’t and if it did it would create an error)

If, for performance reasons, you want to load jquery and other core js-files from a CDN, make sure you are loading the same version to prevent nasty things happening with core and plugin functions. Like this:

$wp_jquery_version = $GLOBALS['wp_scripts']->registered['jquery-core']->ver;
$jquery_version = ( $wp_jquery_version == '' ) ? '1.8.3' : $wp_jquery_version; // fallback, just in case 
wp_register_script('jquery', ''. $jquery_version .'/jquery.min.js', $jquery_version, false );

After checking all different methods for loading jquery (not only on this post), I realized that none of them do all of these:

  1. Register (and perhaps enqueue) jquery using a function , so it can be used by plugins.
  2. Load it from Google CDN with protocol relative url.
  3. Fallback to local copy if Google is offline.

There a lot of alternate versions doing some of these in the list, but not all, so I wrote my version combing and modifing some of the methods already available. Here it is:

function nautilus7_enqueue_scripts() {

    // Load jquery from Google CDN (protocol relative) with local fallback when not available
    if ( false === ( $url = get_transient('jquery_url') ) ) {

        // Check if Google CDN is working
        $url = ( is_ssl() ? 'https:' : 'http:' ) . '//';
        $resp = wp_remote_head($url);

        // Load local jquery if Google down
        if ( is_wp_error($resp) || 200 != $resp['response']['code'] ) {

            $url = get_template_directory_uri() . '/js/vendor/jquery-1.7.2.min.js';

        // Cache the result for 5 minutes to save bandwidth
        set_transient('jquery_url', $url, 60*5);

    // Deregister WordPress' jquery and register theme's copy in the footer
    wp_register_script('jquery', $url, array(), null, true);

    // Load other theme scripts here

add_action('wp_enqueue_scripts', 'nautilus7_enqueue_scripts');

In order to save bandwidth and not ping Google every time the page is reloaded it remembers whether Google CDN is online or not for 5 minutes using the WordPress Transient API.