13 Built-In WordPress Options that
Online Publishers Need to Know …

7. Read More

I am always surprised by how many people do not know about or utilize this handy option.

If you do not have your front page set to show post excerpts, it will show the entirety of your posts unless you instruct WordPress to truncate them at some point and then link people to the full post.

The Read More button does this easily, and you don’t even have to toggle over to the HTML editor to use it.

8. Visual and HTML Editors

While we’re on the subject of toggling over the HTML editor, I suppose I should explain what that means.

WordPress gives you the ease of a “WYSIWYG editor,” which means “what you see is what you get.” In the screenshot directly above, the Visual editor is being utilized. Anyone who has used a word processor will feel comfortable using the Visual editor.

The last screen shot on Page 1 of this post, however, is in the HTML editor. Though I spend most of time using the Visual editor, sometimes it is necessary to toggle over and make granular HTML changes.

You need to have at least basic HTML skills to make use of this editor. If so, it can offer additional flexibility in customizing the look and feel of a post.

9. Size of Post Box

One aspect of the screen that will not change when you toggle from Visual to HTML is the size of post box. However, if the default size of 10 lines is too small for your taste, as it is for mine, you can easily change it.

In your dashboard navigation bar on the left side, click on the “Writing” link under Settings. The first option on the ensuing page is “Size of post box.” Enter in whatever size you wish.

I like to be able to see at least 20 lines myself, so that I’m not cramped and so that I can see how images fit with the text.

10. Screen Options

Speaking of options, there are a number of other display options for the post edit screen.

Unfortunately, many people do not know how to access them. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to do so.

In the upper right hand corner of the post edit page is a gray button that says “Screen Options” and has a small downward facing arrow.

Click it, and a menu drops down with a number of options that you can check or uncheck. Any options that are checked will show up on your edit screen. If unchecked, you won’t be able to see them.

For example, if you’re posting an article by another author — so that you need to change the Author to someone other than yourself — you need to make sure the box next to “Author” is checked in the Screen Options. Similarly, If you want to be able to define an excerpt, you need to be sure that box is checked. And so on.

If you are looking for an option on the post edit screen and cannot find it, check your Screen Options before you do anything else.

11. Disallow Comments

One particular Screen Option is “Discussion”. This gives you control over whether readers can post comments on an article and whether trackbacks are allowed.

If you check “Discussion” and then uncheck the option for allowing comments, it will disable comments for that post only. Sometimes this is useful when you have a post for which comments would be unnecessary or unwanted.

12. Revisions

Did you know that WordPress saves every single revision you make of an article? It’s true.

Scroll down in your post edit page and you should see a widget like this:

If you do not, open up your Screen Options and check “Revisions,” and it will appear.

Every time I save this post, which I do often when writing a longer one, WordPress saves a revision. Thus, if I changed or deleted something from an earlier draft, but later wanted to reincorporate it or, revert to an entire previous draft, it would require only a few clicks of a button.

By clicking on any of those links in blue, I am taken to that revision. I can then compare the revisions, or copy a specific section and bring it over to the newest version.

I cannot tell you how many times this built-in feature has saved my tookus or simply made life easier.

13. Search engine privacy

And finally, my old nemesis.

In the Settings tab of the dashboard nav bar, you will see a link for “Privacy.” Clicking on this link provides just one setting option:

You can choose to allow search engines to index your site, or request that they wait.

Why would you want to keep search engines away? If you are still developing the site, you may want to keep the spiders away until you have the content on your pages just so before they get indexed. Then once your site is ready to be found by search engine users around the world, you can toggle to the other option to open the floodgates.

Here is what you don’t want to do: toggle off allowing search engines to index the site as you prepare to launch a blog on a live site using WordPress as a content management system.

Can you keep a secret? I’m about to tell you something that I haven’t admitted to anyone publicly but that I have been roundly and justifiably mocked for here at Synthesis HQ:

I did just that right before we launched the Synthesis blog and it caused our entire site to be removed from the index for a few days.

It was a valuable, though totally avoidable and unnecessary lesson.

Learn from me: only toggle search engines off when you want every page of that particular WordPress install hidden from search engines. There are plugins that allow you to hide individual posts from search engines, if necessary.

The Moral of the Story …

The lesson of this post should be simple: WordPress has a plethora of built-in features that make our lives as content publishers much easier than they would otherwise.

And a lot of times, what we think we need a plugin for is already handled easily by WordPress itself.

These 13 built-in options are great examples, and everyone who uses WordPress should know and utilize them.

What other built-in options does WordPress have that you use frequently and think everyone else should know (but might not)?

Comments

  1. The youtube shortcode they talk about on wordpress.com doesn’t work on a self-installed WordPress. WordPress uses the built in [embed] shortcode instead.

    More info on it here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Embeds

    Also, it supports a *lot* more than just Twitter and YouTube. :)

  2. It’s hard for me now to imagine life before WordPress. I am glad they are so dedicated to it, every update seems to really make it better and better.

  3. Now I want a snickerdoodle …

  4. Great points to highlight the new features of WordPress. The barrier to entry for an online publisher is greatly reduced by these new features. The ease in which to add rich content should make posts easier to consume. Great tips!

  5. Thanks for this really useful post. But to me, it just shows the frustrations and mind-boggling awkwardness of the WordPress system in general! Why have to wait until version 3.4 to be able to apply the most simplest of adaptations and changes to a Website design..? (Leading DTP Programs offered these adjustments YEARS ago in their 1st software versions!). And WHY does WordPress constantly seem to try and hide it’s sensible adjustments – like being able to add HTML to image captions..? It’s COMMON SENSE! (I don’t think the developers deserve real cookies – they deserve a telling off, for not enabling it before!) And finally, why have WordPress approached their ‘help/how-to’ sections by supplying reams of pages that never DIRECTLY answer a simple question..? Maybe they’ll finally wise up, and start mending their ways – and offering Bloggers, Website designers, small businesses, etc., the ultimate flexibility they want, right from the start – particularly when they realise that many rival new Website/Blogging platforms are now in their final pre-launch testing stages – and soon to be launched to an expectant audience…

  6. Great tips – Thank you. I immediately subscribed to your newsletter.

    However, at the top of your article you urged us to go to our WP blog and upgrade right away, then come back.

    I’m paranoid about doing that without backing up my blog. WP urges us to do that and maybe you assume all of us would automatically do that. However, I know a lot of people who wouldn’t think of doing that.

    Also, once we upgrade we’ve got to pay attention to plug-ins and themes to make sure all are compatible, right?

    • Jerod Morris :

      Tom,

      Yes, you should always get a backup before upgrading, but this should not be a barrier to upgrading. Get the backup and upgrade! That way you can take advantage of the new features and have the security updates in place. Also, we backup our sites so well here at Synthesis that even if you don’t backup, and something goes wrong with the upgrade (which is rare), we could restore you pretty easily.

      And yes, you have to pay attention to plugins and themes. That is why using premium themes like StudioPress is such a good idea, because you know they will be on top of WP updates, and it’s why vetting your plugin sources is so important too. You don’t want to be using plugins that are no longer supported and can’t make it through an upgrade.

  7. The Tweet Embedder feature is very cool! But putting the link in a picture captions via HTML… awesome! Thanks for posting these, for those of us that need a little tutoring once in a while:)

  8. Wow, A very great article loaded with information.

    I have actually updated mine but didn’t put all these wordpress built-in into consideration. I will start making use of them asap.

    On that of embeding videos, is it aduisable to embed a youtube video link that is not made by me?

    Thanks.

    • Jerod Morris :

      Thank you! Yes, you can use any YouTube link. As a previous commenter mentioned, the parameters to change width and height via short code do not work on self-hosted blogs, but the auto-embed from the link does work.

  9. Oh, thanks.
    I was even afraid thinking that it voilets google adsense TOS.
    I will start using youtube videos on my blog then.

  10. A great post here and a lesson learnt too, I didn’t actually know about the ‘next page’ feature but this will help a lot for future content on my site. Thank you.

    • Yes! It had never even occurred to me to do a multi-page post on those longer posts. Jerod, do you know if it’s still considered “one page” for indexing purposes?

      Thanks!

      • Great question. They would be considered separate pages for a search engine. So if SEO is the #1 objective of a page, splitting it up might not be the best idea. But, on the flip side, if it’s a REALLY long post, how much marginal value are you getting from the second half from an SEO perspective? And if you make money off of pageviews, is any negative SEO impact offset by the additional pageviews? It’ll just depend on the situation.

  11. Hi !
    Thanks for this cool post. I’m using this Shortcode for integrating a youtube vidéo on my self-hosted website and it works fine ! (it wors also with vimeo and dailymotion):

    [embed width="600" height="450"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN00527ru9I[/embed]

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