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Blog Exercises: Excerpts and Continue Reading

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Encountered the front page of a blog where the posts ran on and on and on and on, stretching across the length of the page?

Do you ever wish you had more control over the length of your posts on the front page of your site?

This Blog Exercise explores the use of the “more” feature in WordPress, the ability to control the excerpt of a post for viewing on the front of your site, and how to write excerpts.

We begin this exercise by explaining what an excerpt is, focusing on how WordPress uses the term.

An excerpt is a summary of your post article or the first few sentences of a post as it appears on the front page of the site.

Many WordPress Themes feature excerpts on multiple post pageviews, the view of a generated page featuring more than one post such as the category pageview, search, tags, archives, and author pageviews. Few WordPress Themes force an excerpt on the front page of the site, leaving the decision up to the site owner.

In WordPress, without touching the code, you may easily set the excerpt length on your posts, automatically truncating them for the front pageview of the site.

In the Visual Editor, place the cursor where you wish the excerpt to be placed, and click the button labeled “Insert More Tag.” It is located typically four over from the far right of the top row of the button bar. A line will appear with the word “more” on the right end.

Example of the WordPress Visual Editor and the more button and excerpt indication.

In the Text Editor, place the cursor where you wish the excerpt to be placed, and click the button labeled “more” in the tool bar. The more shortcode, <, will appear at that point. WordPress will automatically truncate the content at that point on the front page.
Example of the more or continue reading tag in the WordPress Text Editor to create an excerpt.

When the reader clicks the “Continue Reading” link, it will jump them to that point in the article so they can continue reading the whole post.

How long should the excerpt be? That is up to you. Typically two to four paragraphs is acceptable but it depends upon the site’s design and what content you have within the excerpt area.

Here are some things you should know before you start using excerpts on your site as your blog exercise today.

  • Images placed before the “more” point will appear in the excerpt. If the cut off point is near the top of the image rather than below it, there will be a blank space next to the image. This might look odd.
  • Not every post needs an excerpt. If your post is less than 4 paragraphs or one screen scroll in length, consider not using an excerpt.
  • What compels the reader to click the “Continue Reading” link is what comes before it. The post title and excerpt must motivate them to click and keep reading – to find out the “rest of the story,” to quote Paul Harvey.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.As stated, your blog exercise today is to put your focus on your site excerpts, especially how your posts appear on the front page of your site.

Think like a reader. How many scrolls do you need to get the gist of an article before moving onto another down the list?

Some bloggers enjoy having full post lengths on the front page of their site. Some like having post titles only, leaving those to do the click-through motivation to read the entire article.

Short or full is up to you. Experiment with the “more” feature to see how it works with your site design.

We’re well into the fifth month of these Blog Exercises, and there is still so much more to do. You are welcome to join us at any time as I celebrate the 10th Anniversary of WordPress with a year of non-stop blogging articles that help you blog better.

If you write about this exercise, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the tip!! I had not fully explored the toolbar and as using the excerpt option that came with my theme. I like your way so much better – now I can set the length of my excerpts!!

  2. Lora
    Posted April 3, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Hi there … I have a similar request. Is there a way to add a “continue reading” link that displays the rest of the post without going to another page. For example, reader presses “continue reading” and the rest of the post just appears underneath, without having to load the post.

    Example: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6404873-penelope-and-the-preposterous-birthday-party

    The ‘more’ button does not take you else where, just works within the page.


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