How to use Bracketpress for WordPress (for free)

Bracketpress makes it simple to run your own NCAA bracket contest on your WordPress site. Here are the steps to get it up and running.

1) Install and activate the Bracketpress Plugin:

2) Install and activate the BracketPress Login/Register Widget: NOTE: This step is optional. You could use a different login process, but the widget makes things easier as you’ll see below.

3) Upon installation, Bracketpress creates two unpublished blog pages. Navigate to your Pages and publish both of the drafts. They’ll be titled: “My Brackets” and “BracketPress Leaderboard”:

Change both posts from Draft to Published.

4) Flush your permalinks to make sure your brackets will show up after you published them (this is required because the plugin creates a new post type for brackets). Do this by going to Settings --> Permalinks, and clicking “Save Changes.” You don’t actually have to change anything, just clicking “Save Changes” flushes your permalinks:

5) Upon installation, the BracketPress Login plugin creates a new widget type that you’ll need to add to your site’s sidebar. Do this by going to Appearance --> Widgets and dragging the Bracket Widget into your sidebar, then saving the changes:

6) Enter data for the brackets by hand (if the tournament draw hasn’t been done yet, you can enter dummy data or last year’s data). Do this by going to Brackets --> Team Data and entering the Team, Conference, Region and Seeds:

7) Create a login for a user. Do this by going to Users --> And New, and typing in the required information. Set the user’s Role to Subscriber:

8) Visit your site’s Bracket page. This will the URL of the WordPress page you published that’s called “My Brackets”. When I was testing the plugin, that page was http://www.fredmarion/my-brackets/. Once you’re there, login using the subscriber account that you set up in Step 7:

9) Now, that user will be able to view and edit their bracket:

10) To update the scores for each round, you’re going to need to manually update the master bracket. Do this by going to Brackets --> Master Bracket --> View:

When you’re viewing that page, click the “Edit Bracket” button and enter the game data. If you’re testing, you can click the “Randomize” button to fill out the form with random guesses.

11) Process your scores. The plugin compares the brackets of everyone who plays against the “Master Bracket” to determine the scores each round. To process the scores, you first fill in the Master Bracket (as noted in Step 10), then you need to process the scores. Do that by going to Brackets --> Settings and Scoring. There, scroll to the very bottom of the page and hit the Process Scoring button.

If you run into any problems with this step, it’s probably because your master bracket Page ID isn’t correct. Make sure the Page ID for your Master Bracket matches the Page ID listed under Brackets --> Settings and Scoring:

Unsure what your page ID is? This post can help.

12) View the leaderboard. After you’ve processed your scores, you can point everyone to the leaderboard page that you set up in Step 3. There, they can see how they’re doing in the competition.

Best of luck getting your bracket up and running. Many props go out to the BracketPress team for creating a stellar app!

Alternative titles:

  • How to set up Bracketpress
  • How to run March Madness brackets on your WordPress site
  • Bracketpress tutorial
  • Bracketpress tips and tricks
  • How to install Bracketpress

12 thoughts on “How to use Bracketpress for WordPress (for free)

  1. Pingback: How to Setup Bracket Press | BracketPress

  2. THANK YOU! That was WAY more helpful than anything I found on the Bracketpress site…. It made this complex plugin pretty easy to set up. Thanks for putting that together!

    • Fred Marion on

      Glad you found it helpful! It took me a while to figure out how bracketpress actually worked…

    • Zach Powers on

      Thanks so much for this post. I figured I had an afternoon of trial-and-error tinkering ahead of me, and now I know everything I need. Very nice tutorial.

  3. This is a great tutorial! Thanks so much for the help.

    Do you have any suggestions for which theme to use? I can’t seem to get the individual brackets to display as “full-width.” There’s always a sidebar area, even if I leave the sidebar empty, which forces the bracket into a small space.

  4. Jeff on

    I am having issues with my bracketpress. Everyone’s brackets are viewable. How do I make them private until the tournament starts?

  5. I am having issues with permalinks…and I purchased the pro and I do not know where to download it from the site. Can someone let me know on this.

  6. Hey Fred –

    I’m having some trouble getting the login widget to work. For users who already have accounts, they can login fine. The register tab is not working, so my new users aren’t able to make brackets. If you could help me out, that’d be great.

    I have already checked “Anybody can register” in the general settings page

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