Skip to content

WordPress: user_login vs user_nicename - The Difference

Posted on:June 5, 2023 at 03:57 AM
user_login is the username used to log in. user_nicename is a more user-friendly version of user_login, used for author profile page permalinks.

Quick Difference (TL;DR)

user_nicename is basically the user_login filtered to conform to URL standards.

By default: user_nicename = sanitize_title(user_login)

Table of contents

Open Table of contents


In WordPress, user identification is crucial for managing and organizing user accounts effectively. Two commonly used user identification attributes are user_login and user_nicename.

Although they might seem similar (at first glance), they are significant different from each other with different purpose(s) respectively.

If you are a WordPress dev, it’s even more important you get an understanding of their differences.

What is user_login?

Format requirements for user_login

When a user creates an account on a WordPress site, they are required to choose a unique user_login - typically in the form of an alphanumeric string referred as the username or login name. User_login is used for authentication purposes and is not meant to be displayed publicly.

Editability: How to change user_login?

WordPress: change user_login using phpMyAdmin or adminer

Visibility: Security aspect of user_login

What is user_nicename?

For instance, if your ‘user_nicename’ is ‘wasseem’, your author archive URL will be ’‘.

If your user_login is wasseem-khayrattee, the user_nicename will be wasseem-khayrattee

But if your ‘user_login’ is [email protected], the user_nicename will be wasseemkhayrattee-com

As you have observed, essentially: user_nicename = sanitize_title(user_login)

WordPress user_login and user_nicename via adminer interface

Format requirements for user_nicename

Editability: How to change user_nicename?

In this case, WordPress will now do:

user_nicename = sanitize_title(display_name)

WordPress: How to change user_nicename

And if you view the above using a database tool like Adminer: WordPress: change user_nicename using adminer

Visibility: Security aspect of user_nicename

Best Practices:

Choosing user_login

Choosing user_nicename

A word of caution

Whenener you do a change in either the user_login or user_nicename, do make sure to implement proper redirections or update any relevant internal links to prevent broken links and undesired effects.

Whenever you have a doubt, get the help of a professional WordPress developer.


While both ‘user_login’ and ‘user_nicename’ are crucial to user management and user identification in WordPress, they serve different purposes.

‘user_login’ is used for the authentication process and cannot be changed through the WordPress admin interface, while ‘user_nicename’ is used for author archive URLs and can be modified as needed.

Understanding the difference between these two terms can help you make better programmatic decisions when developing a feature or doing some custom coding within WordPress.

This content has been:

Tagged as:  user_login  user_nicename  wordpress-registration  wordpress-login

Authored by: Wasseem Khayrattee - who is an experienced Web professional and Senior WordPress Developer with over 20 years of industry experience.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. It means this post may contain affiliate links. So if you click on them and if (and only if) you make a purchase there, we'll get a commission, at no cost to you. Read more (click here) to know what this means and how you can better support us.