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Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog

In-Series Under New Management

REM State has taken over support and management of the In-Series WordPress Plugin and you can find their latest version at the REM State In-Series WordPress Plugin page. They’ve added a GUI interface and a few other bells and whistles.

ProBlogger’s 10 Steps to Writing a Successful Series on Your Blog is an excellent outline of the steps and issues you need to consider when writing a series of articles on your blog.

I’d like to tackle a few of the technical issues related to writing a series on your WordPress blog (or other blogging platform or tool).

The most important element to a series is the connection between the posts. After all, a series by definition means “more than one”. It’s vital for the life and success of a series for the posts to connect together via links. Not only to help the reader navigate from one series article to another, but it helps search engines to find all the pieces of the series. It also offers some challenges to the blogger on how to create those links without a lot of extra work.

Let’s say you have a series of 7 posts across 7 days in a series. Post one is the introduction, spelling out the topics you will be writing about, and possibly hosting an outline of the titles of the specific posts. Post seven is the summary post, making a final point then summing up everything you’ve written over the past 6 days. This is a fairly normal article series layout.

Whether you are working on posts that release immediately, or future posts written in advance that automatically release on schedule, the issue of how and when to create the intra-series links gets fuzzy.

Choices and Options for Building Intra-Series Links

If I write everything in advance and post it using the future post feature, I can include all the links to the other posts, even if they haven’t posted. Unfortunately, the links appear in the posted posts. When clicked, they take the reader to a 404 Page Not Found Error until that post releases. Not good form. I wish there was a WordPress Plugin that allowed you to include links in a published post to unpublished posts that wouldn’t show until the post published. Until then, it’s a manual labor job.

For each new post that publishes, I can go back and manually apply the intra-series links within the older posts for published post that day. This can be a lot of work.

Some skip the whole intra-series linking and put a list of the series posts with links on post one and seven, hoping that the reader will at least begin or end with these pages. However, with search engine search results not knowing the difference between part one and part five, the reader could end up anywhere in the series.

A way to reconnect these people to the series would be to include a link to the first post in the first paragraph of each post throughout the series, like a short introduction:

In Part Three of this series of articles on Writing a Series on Your Blog we take a look at how a series can help boost traffic to your blog and encourage readers to return…

This helps to connect the visitor to all the posts in the series, if you at least update your first post in the series with links to the published post each day. Then you’d only have to update one post’s links per day.

To use post one as your article series table of contents, I recommend that you begin with an outline of the topics to be covered during the week and list them, like a table of contents:

In this series on Writing a Series on Your Blog, I will discuss:

  • Introduction to Writing a Series on Your Blog
  • Developing a Topic Across a Series
  • Researching Material for a Series
  • How to Include Quotes, References, and Sources in Your Series
  • Encouraging Comments During a Series
  • Responding to Comments During a Series
  • Series Summary: Putting a Series All Together

Each day a new post in your series publishes, go back to this post and add a link to that day’s post:

In this series on Writing a Series on Your Blog, I will discuss:

By the end of the series, you will have links down the entire list, which you can copy and include in post seven as part of your summary, bookending your series links.

At the end of the series, I still recommend that you go back through each of the posts and put in the various links to the other posts in the series where they are appropriate. This will help readers follow the series in the future, and help search engines find all the posts within the series, leaving no orphans behind.

Article Series WordPress Plugin

While I did put on my wish list for a WordPress Plugin that would automatically recognize links to non-published posts within the content of a post and keep them hidden until the post publishes, there is a WordPress Plugin that will hep you connect the dots of your series, though not within the post content. It creates a series list at the end of the content on a page.

Skippy’s In-Series WordPress Plugin is one of my favorite WordPress Plugins. I write a lot of series articles on my blogs. Skippy saw my need (and tears of linking frustration) and worked overtime to put this together, realizing how important it is to help article series bloggers or writers to connect their articles together.

Example of In-Series WordPress Plugin on a series of articles

Like any WordPress Plugin, install and activate the Plugin normally. Then in the template file where you want the series information to display, including the following, as I did in my single.php template file in the post meta data section:


<div class="inseries">
<?php
$series = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'series_name', TRUE);
if ('' != $series)
{
echo "<p><b>Article Series - $series</b></p>\n";
series_table_of_contents($series);
echo '<p class="series">';
next_in_series('<b>Next:</b> %link', '%title');
echo "<br />";
previous_in_series('<b>Previous:</b> %link', '%title');
echo "</p>";
}
?>
</div> <!-- end inseries -->


This seems like a lot of code, so let’s break it down.

The DIV sets a style reference for the entire section so I can make it look exactly how I want it to appear. The section within the echo codes is the structure and text around the list of series posts. I’ve titled it “Article Series” but you can call it whatever you want. It will be titled thus on every post within a series. You can also change the text titles for Next and Previous, and the series_table_of_contents() code is what displays the posts in the series in a numbered list.

The next section is the Next and Previous in the series, which is wrapped in a paragraph tag with its own style called “series”. This is so I can style the next and previous links in the series differently from the rest of the section, if I wanted.

The first “IF” statement checks to see if you have designated this post as one in a series. If you have, the following will appear. If you haven’t, this this entire section will not appear on the post. Why should you have something titled “Article Series” and then have nothing there if the post isn’t part of a series? Right? Now you see them, now you don’t.

When viewing a series of posts, the posts already published will have links visible in the list. The rest will not be listed until they publish. The post in the series that you are viewing will not show the link, just the text of the title, indicating which post you are on in the series. Nice touch!

To designate a post as part of a series, you will need to use the Custom Fields section of your Write Post Panel, in a two step process:

  1. Under key, type in series_name. In the value box, type in the title of the series, such as Writing a Series on Your Blog. Click Add Custom Field.
  2. Under the Custom Field again, type in the key as series_order and the value as the number that post should be in the order of the series, i.e., 1, 2, 3, or 4. Click Add Custom Field.

Now you have two Custom Fields in the list above which help to designate that this post is part of a specific series and it is post number 1 in the series.

Using the Custom Fields in the Write Post Panel to designate a post in a series

On the next post, you can use the drop down selection menu to choose series_name and series_order so you don’t have to type them in again. Remember to write and spell the title of the series exactly on each one as that is the way it knows that this series is part of the whole and not a new series.

Bingo, instant well-behaved series links!

I’d love to have this plugin be more user friendly by offering up a list of the post titles and series numbers already in use, as I often have trouble getting the series name exactly right, or remembering if this is post 3 or 4 in the series. I’d also love to see a similar feature built-in WordPress as many, many people love to blog in series, connecting posts together.

Using Skippy’s In-series WordPress Plugin doesn’t stop you from adding links manually throughout your published posts and on the posts one and two to help emphasize the series links, but it does help to connect the series easily while working on it.

To see Skippy’s In-series WordPress Plugin in action, check out my series on Basic Nature Photography and Closeups in Nature.

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17 Comments

  1. Posted June 21, 2006 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I have done something similar, used one post that consolidates the series. Two of them are listed under Quick Links. I think even a category can be used for a series, however with some special treatment for that category to differentiate it from others.

  2. Posted June 21, 2006 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s a good idea.

    I think for most beginning bloggers, the best way to do this is to create a category for the series and create a few static pages, including a broader themed Articles page, with links to all articles that are in series. And then, each link would go to an post index for each specific article.

    Each time you add another in the series of articles, you add a link manually to the index.

  3. Posted June 23, 2006 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    What a great post, where has this blog been all my blogging career? ;) OK, so I have now added you to my Bloglines sub. I now have to figure out a series to write, probably best to start with a short series first as my posts tend to be on the longer side.

  4. Posted June 23, 2006 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Great information, wish I had seen this sooner. I often want to portray a story through a series of posts. Did a cave exploration recently and the journey is best served by a series of posts over a number of days. One big amorphous blob of text hardly does it justice.

  5. Posted June 23, 2006 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Wow this article is soo useful. I’ve thought about writing a series of articles on my blog from time to time, but just never really got past that initial planning stage. This is really great, i’ll make sure I come back and refer to it many times to come :)

  6. Posted June 23, 2006 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    oh btw, i hope you don’t mind, but I just added your blog to my blog’s ‘Fellow Bloggers’ links page. You have some really great stuff on here I just wanna let people know about it :)

    Thanks again.

  7. standardsociety
    Posted June 25, 2006 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Great technical information on posting to your blog. I also read ProBlogger and find both your blog and ProBlogger’s very useful for reference material I hope you don’t mind me linking to your great blog.

  8. Posted June 25, 2006 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I hit brain burn at Article Series WordPress Plugin. I deeply appreciate everything you’ve taken the time to put together. It’s extremely helpful. Rethinking my format, direction, focus…then cleaning up my act and either fixing it or heading out of Dodge. Thanks.

  9. Posted September 1, 2006 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I installed the plugin but couldn’t figure out what to do with the code I was supposed to insert into the template. Your step-by-step instructions were invaluable!

  10. Posted October 5, 2006 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle, I´m not a programmer and I need some help on this!

    I have tested locally the inseries plugin and it has worked pretty fine inside my index.php, being the only problem that when the post is NOT accessed through its main url (site.com/name-of-the-post), the output is just the first line “Article Series – seriesname”. So I tried to dig into my theme code (semiologic, btw), and I have found many functions where I might insert your sample technique script, like “display_entry_meta” and “display_entry_body”. But I have tried it without success, and I think it´s because it´s not supposed to be called from within a function…

  11. Posted October 5, 2006 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    This is tough because the original author no longer supports this wonderful plugin, though it is available for anyone who wants to take it over.

    First of all, DO NOT put the PHP code “inside” of other code. It is it’s own “code”. Doing so will break the other code.

    Look for a DIV in the area you want this to appear and experiment with putting the code there, before other code is initiated. See if that works. If it does, then slowly move it into the place where you want it to be on your template file in the WordPress Theme. The SemiLogic Theme has a lot of embedded WordPress Plugins, so take care as you do this.

    Do not put the code between <?php and ; ?> that is already there. That’s other code. Put your PHP wrapped code per the example outside of other code.

    I’d love it if someone took over this plugin and got rid of a few of the bugs and made this a bit easier to use. It’s the only one like it out there. It’s so wonderful.

  12. Posted February 2, 2007 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Help! I must be doing something wrong when I put a link in one of my WP post pointing to another post on the same subject.

    I received the following email: New pingback on your post #27 …

    Why is it making a comment and ping back? How should I make the link?

  13. Posted February 2, 2007 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    When you include a link to another post, on your blog or off, WordPress automatically sends a trackback and/or ping to the linked site.

    If you do not want trackbacks from within your blog, from one post to the other, then use a relative link not an absolute one to the post:

    /2006/02/02/post-title-here

    Leave off the http.

    Trackbacks within your blog helps to connect related posts together, since you make a link to the article in one post, it must be related, right? People will look down your comments and trackbacks list and see related information to other posts on your site. It’s a nice interconnected and navigational feature.

    And it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

  14. Posted March 24, 2007 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Just a little plug that for those who want an alternative to Travis’s (formerly Skippy’s) In-Series plugin (which I think he’s doing a great job on btw)- feel free to try out my WordPress Organize Series Plugin. My plugin has a bit different approach in that it integrates with the existing category system of WordPress.

  15. Posted September 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    seems plug-in page showing 404 – please re upload

  16. JS Tucker
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle, thanks for the great tip. I had been thinking about writing a series for one of my blogs a few years ago but never got around to actually doing it. I think that, if you make the series interesting and informative, together with providing a catchy first article, you can make visitors keep coming back. Thanks again, John

  17. Brad Dalton
    Posted October 8, 2012 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    That plugin is a bit outdated now so you may want to try this one by Justin Tadlock http://themehybrid.com/plugins/series


37 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] A very useful article that points out mistakes people make and some great tips and tricks to make sure you make the most out of a series of posts on your blog. Check out the post at Lorelle on WordPress. [...]

  2. [...] Técnica para publicar una serie de artículos en tu blog, muy util para enlazar una buena ristra de articulos. [...]

  3. [...] For the full details visit Lorelle on WordPress    Posted in Blogging and Blogging Tools     [...]

  4. [...] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog – Lorelle discusses the technnical issues when you post a series of posts. [...]

  5. [...] Few months on and Lorelle VanFossen wrote a very helpful companion post to it, “Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog“. [...]

  6. [...] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog Custom Fields 的應用. [...]

  7. [...] Técnica para publicar una serie de artículos en tu blog, muy util para enlazar una buena ristra de articulos. [...]

  8. [...] http://www.skippy.net/blog/category/wordpress/plugins/in-series/ How to use in-series to publish in your blog [...]

  9. [...] I’ll keep my rant concise. One: Some of the best WordPress plugins are the result of long term incremental development. Two: A “really revolutionary” plugin isn’t necessary when you can combine multiple so-called “so-so” plugins together to achieve the same effect. Three: How “revolutionary” individual plugins are depends on how you use it. You’d be surprised at how creativity can bring out the power of underrated plugins. Four: Tiny “so-so” plugins ensure that we have something for every problem we face. We don’t always need “great” plugins – but we always need solutions to our problems. [...]

  10. [...] I’m already using something like this for a CMS implementation of WordPress. Basically, I’m listing the peer pages of the current page on the sidebar – allowing users a useful form of navigation within a particular group of pages (all with the same parent) – through the In-Series plugin (for example, check out the sidebar of this page on one of my still-developing econs blogs). But In-Series wasn’t meant to do what List Peer Pages does (it has its own good purpose), so I had to hack the plugin a little and waste time in using custom fields. Now that List Peer Pages has appeared, I might replace In-Series with it. [...]

  11. [...] Then there is Lorelle who comments on this series by adding Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog. A really useful article that points out some basic tips that are easily overlooked when creating a series. [...]

  12. [...] features that people wanted to see In Series develop, one of which was a GUI feature so that you didn’t have to remember series names and numbers. I agreed that this would be a tremendous boost to the plugin’s usability, and so I wrote the [...]

  13. [...] greift den Post von Darren Rowse auf und beleuchtet die technische Umsetzung in dem Artikel Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog. Lorelle hat die interne Verlinkung der Artikel der Serie als Erfolgsfaktor identifiziert. Aus [...]

  14. [...] WordPress Plugin, which I featured in Connecting Articles in Series: In Series WordPress Plugin and Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog. He has asked his fans to stop by and give some moral support and cheers as he works through the [...]

  15. [...] Comment on Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on <b>…</b> [...]

  16. [...] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog [...]

  17. [...] Tip: Finding Future Post Permalinks In Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog, I offered tips for how to use WordPress to publish a series of articles on your blog, linking [...]

  18. [...] The In Series WordPress Plugin by Remstate has been updated recently. The Plugin makes writing article series and connecting them together in a series simple and easy, adding a link list of the articles in the series to each post within the [...]

  19. افزونه ی وردپرس برای نوشتن مطالب سریالی

    شاید تا کنون پیش آمده باشد که بخواهید مطلبی را در چند قسمت و به صورت سریالی در وبلاگتان بنویسید.مثلآ می خواهید نحوه ی کارکردن با یک نرم افزا…

  20. [...] In Series WordPress Plugin by Remstate has been updated recently. The Plugin makes writing article series and connecting them together in a series simple and easy, adding a link list of the articles in the series to each post within the series. [...]

  21. [...] Easier to Write Article Series and Themes: When you have more time to think about what you are going to blog, it’s easier to find themes that connect blog posts together, possibly linking them together as an article series. [...]

  22. [...] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog [...]

  23. [...] in the end moving people forward to the next post in that series for continuity.  (Here’s a great link on the technical aspects of interlinked series for those using [...]

  24. [...] in the end moving people forward to the next post in that series for continuity.  (Here’s a great link on the technical aspects of interlinked series for those using [...]

  25. [...] Article Series: Steps and process for producing articles in a series. [...]

  26. [...] Article Series: Steps and process for producing articles in a series. [...]

  27. [...] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog [...]

  28. [...] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog [...]

  29. […] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog […]

  30. […] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog […]

  31. […] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog […]

  32. […] love writing articles in series, and I wish it was easier to do technically on WordPress blogs, but still, I’ve done some article series that I’m really proud of, both here and on […]

  33. […] outlined the specifics of how In-Series worked in “Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog“, featuring the original In-Series WordPress Plugin. Travis of REM State, a gem of a […]

  34. […] In-Series WordPress Plugin helps me keep my articles series in series, listing the posts that are part of a series in the post meta data section. And the Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin allows me easy […]

  35. […] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog […]

  36. […] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog […]

  37. […] Technical Tips for Publishing a Series of Articles on Your Blog […]

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