More About Posts
Now that we have all the basics of the Editor down, it’s time to look at things specific to Posts and Pages. First up are Posts. In Chapter 17, when we talk about using WordPress to make a “website,” we’ll really tap into clever ways to use Posts to get content grouped and gathered how you’d like them to be. And when combined with Custom Post Types, things get really interesting and fun. For now, let’s stick with standard posts as blog posts and start off with Post Formats.
When Tumblr came onto the scene in 2007, it turned the blogging world on its head. Instead of focusing on posts as posts, Tumblr looked at each type of content and developed styles to match and reflect the content. So, yes, Text (a post in the WordPress world) is pretty straightforward, but the way Tumblr styled quotes, pictures, updates (like Twitter tweets), and other content was quite interesting and appealing to people. In 2011, WordPress 3.1 first included Post Formats as a way to appeal and keep up with the Tumblr phenomenon. By officially codifying Post Formats into the WordPress core, it made it easier for theme developers to take advantage of, making certain kinds of posts look different from others just by letting users click an option button in the Post Editor. The standard Post Formats are as follows:
Asides and Status are designed to be like Facebook updates (Asides) or tweets (Status). Chat is designed to look like a conversation through instant messaging or any other back and forth with people. Gallery and Image are for multiple (Gallery) or single (Image) images to show them off. Video is for showing a video as the sole piece of content. Likewise, Audio is for embedded audio files (like for podcasting). Finally, Link is for sharing just a single link to another website.
How each of these Post Formats look for your theme—and even which ones are supported—is truly dependent on the theme developer herself. For example, Twenty Eleven doesn’t have Chat, Audio, or Video Post Formats included, and Figure 11.36 shows you what a few of the Post Formats look like in Twenty Eleven (not terribly fancy).
Figure 11.36 Some Post Formats in Twenty Eleven.
For the most part, using Post Formats is like creating any other post. The only trick is seeing how they look when the post is published. For example, Asides and Statuses in Twenty Eleven don’t show the title of the Post on the home page. However, if you have a listing of Recent Posts (by using the Recent Post widget), if you skip the title entirely, there will be an entry with the post’s ID number (such as 204). So you might need to put a title in so the rest of the site (and regular post) looks logical. The best way to learn about Post Formats is to try them and use them. If you don’t like how they look, just click the option button from whatever the format was to Standard, and it’s a “regular post.” One of the longer-term projects within the WordPress development community is to work on how you set and use Post Formats. Right now, the debate is still going on about how to handle Post Formats in the Editor. I’m pretty confident that by the time this book is in your hands, Post Formats in the Post Editor will look different than they do now.
How to Use Categories
Categories are one of the key underpinnings of Posts in WordPress. Because all posts must belong to at least one category (and if you don’t set one, one will be set for you), categories are the main way to organize your posts in WordPress. Pages, remember, can’t be assigned to Categories (pages stand alone). So, what are categories anyway? Categories are big buckets to group content together. If you have a site about crafts, you might have categories for knitting, crocheting, pottery, and card making. If you have a site about cars, you might have categories for makes (Ford, Chevy, Toyota) or models (sport, SUV, trucks) or whatever your niche is. Categories are the large groups that you can use to put posts together. Categories can have subcategories, as well, so if you have a knitting category, you might have subcategories for hats, sweaters, or scarves. A category about Ford cars could have subcategories for the various Ford models (Mustang, F-150, Focus, Model-A, Model-T). Categories are all about organizing your content.
Before you can assign posts to categories, you need to create them first. There are two ways to do that. One is within the Post Editor and the other is in the Category manager. Let’s look at the Post Editor first. Opening the post from Figure 11.25, I’m going to create a category of Photography to file it under (right now, it’s just Uncategorized).
After reopening the post in the Editor, on the right side I click +Add New Category, and there is a form field I can fill in. I put in Photography (Figure 11.37) and then click Add New Category. The Category is created, and now I uncheck Uncategorized (because I don’t want that to be one of the post’s categories anymore) (Figure 11.38). When I click Update post, the new category will be set for the post.
Figure 11.37 Creating a new category.
Figure 11.38 Category created.
Now if wanted a subcategory for Photography, I would click +Add New Category again, and after Enter the New Category (I’m using Magic Hour), I use the pull-down menu to select Photography from the list (Figure 11.39) and then click Add New Category. I now have a subcategory of Photography in the list above indented from its parent (Figure 11.40).
Figure 11.39 Creating a subcategory.
Figure 11.40 Subcategory created.
That’s creating Categories within the Post Editor. If you click the link in the main Admin menu bar below Posts, labeled Categories, you come to the Category management screen (Figure 11.41). From here, you can see all the categories for the site and how many posts are in that category. You can see on the left side the area to create categories, and it works the same as within the Post Editor. The Description field is optional, but some themes use it to add information to the top of Category archive pages (all the posts within that Category). To find out if your theme supports it, put a description in for one of your categories, and go to the Category archive. You can jump to the Category archive for any of your categories by passing your mouse over the name of a category and clicking the View link. This brings us to editing existing categories. Let’s fix that Uncategorized category once and for all. Passing my mouse under Uncategorized, I click Edit and get to a screen where I can edit everything about the category. In Figure 11.42, you can see I’ve changed the name to Everything Else and added a description. Notice that the field Slug is blank? It used to have Uncategorized in it, and I deleted it so when I changed the name of the category, the slug would be updated as well. The Slug is what is used for the URL of the Category archive. Figure 11.43 shows the new category listing with the updated category name, slug, and description. You might have noticed that unlike the other two categories, I can’t delete Everything Else. That’s because it’s the default category. If I switched to a different category under Writing settings, then I could delete the category.
Figure 11.41 Main category management screen.
Figure 11.42 Editing Uncategorized.
Figure 11.43 Category editing complete.
The topic of Categories and Tags can get pretty confusing, but remember that Categories are big topics that many posts could fall under. Even subcategories are “big” topics, just not as big as their parents. Now Tags are something slightly different.
What Are Tags?
Tags in WordPress are essentially keywords specific to that particular post. Although you can use the same tag on different posts (meaning they are all about that specific topic), Tags are meant to be specific. The line between what makes a good tag and what makes a good category is pretty blurry. After a while if you’ve tagged a lot of posts with the same tag, you might want to promote it to a Category. Likewise, if you think you’re going to have a lot of posts about a certain category and it turns out you don’t, you might want to make it a tag. There are plugins to help you make this switch as well as a manual way I’ll talk about later in this chapter.
Just like Categories, you can add Tags in the Post Editor or through a special Tag management page. Back to the Pretty Pictures post, below Categories is the space for Tags. You can enter as many Tags at once as you like, separated by commas. Click Add when you’re done (Figure 11.44). You can always keep adding tags; you don’t have to add them all at once. When you click Update, the tags will be set. Notice that tags don’t have a hierarchy. There are no parent or child tags. Tags are all equal and are all keywords.
Figure 11.44 Adding tags within a post.
Click the Tags link from the Admin button area and you’ll come to the Tag management screen (Figure 11.45). Just like categories, you can create and edit tags in the same way. Because there is no “default” tag (tags are completely optional for posts), you can delete any tag you want. Editing works the same way as Categories (with the exception of setting a Parent).
Figure 11.45 Tag management screen.
In the examples I’ve been using, we’re been adding tags and categories to existing posts; typically, you add tags and categories to posts before they are published. This makes sure that readers and search engines all know the context of a post when they first see it. And as you’ve seen, you can always add and remove categories from any post after it’s been published.
That does it for the special powers that Posts have. Now it’s Pages’ turn, and although Pages might seem pretty boring, standing alone and all, Page templates are so interesting and powerful that they make Pages a superhero in a league of its own.