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The Geek Speaks...

...another Geeky article by Cenay Nailor

Do All Themes Support Excerpts?

From The Skype Blog Room Questions

I am one of the resident experts featured in Julie’s Blog Support Room – Q&A Weds 6pm EDT. This Skype chat room allows visitors who have questions about blogging, to ask them online and get an answer specific to their situation. It’s been a pretty good system so far.

QUESTION TO CENAY: if I want a page looking like a blog with “read more” link, or excerpts, how do i make that? Is it possible that not every theme supports this?

I answered with this…
It is possible not every theme supports it, but you can test with a couple of methods. You can also change your blog’s display method in a couple of different ways. I will detail each here.

To Test Your Theme

To test if your theme allows excerpts, first try adding text to the “Excerpt” field located below the post content box on the Add/Edit Post page. It’s a smaller text box, and does allow HTML. After adding your excerpt, save your post again. Review the home page. Does the excerpt appear now?

Second, try adding the “More” tag to the post itself, where you want to the excerpt to break. For themes that do allow excerpts, this will also include the HTML of the excerpt (typically).

To Add Excerpts To Theme

There are more than two ways, but I will outline the two easiest here.

If you just aren’t “into” editing your theme files (It’s not as hard as it sounds), but you want to convert your theme to use excerpts, download a plugin called “Homepage Excerpts” which will allow you to “set” how many posts display a full post and the rest are “converted” to excerpts for you. For example, on blogs that are set to display 10 posts on home page, you can say allow 1 full post. This will display 1 post in it’s entirety, and the other 9 in excerpt form. I recommend allowing 0, so all posts are converted to excerpts.

Edit Theme To Add Excerpts

First, don’t panic. This isn’t that hard.

Second, visit Dashboard | Appearance | Editor and then select the home.php, index.php or other file that your theme uses for the home page. This is probably the hardest part, determining WHICH file your theme uses as the home page. (On simple themes, it is most likely one of the two I just mentioned).

Locate the section that (without quotes), “the_content()”. There may or may not be stuff inside the parenthesis. This tells WordPress to display the post or page content now. This generally follows the title, thumbnail images, etc.

If you replace “the_content()” with “the_excerpt()”, WordPress will ONLY display the excerpt. If it doesn’t find an excerpt (a more tag or a completed “Excerpt” field), it will grab the first 50 characters. You can change this default if you want, but since the More tag is so easy to use, I wouldn’t.

As long as we are talking about Excerpts, I want to chime in here with some reasons for doing this.

Search Engines Prefer Excerpts

Google defines “duplicate content” as the same content, that appears in it’s entirety, more than once on the same domain. Let that sink in a minute.

If you are displaying your whole post on the home page, your whole post on the category page, and your whole post on the actual post page, then Google sees the same article THREE times on your domain. Not good.

Real People Prefer Excerpts

The next reason to use excerpts over content is real people. When someone lands on your home page and you use full posts, they see your first article. Nothing else except your ad’s in the sidebar and your header. They have to SCROLL to see what else you offer. Not good.

Using excerpts allows your visitors to see 3 or 4 short blurbs that might interest them, not just one. And using thumbnail images in the excerpts, gives them “eye candy” to hold them there long enough to interest them.

Can you think of any other reasons to use excerpts over full posts? I would love to hear them!

9 Responses

  1. Wow, that is really a great explanation of excerpts on blogs. Sure answers some of the questions I’ve had. The dup content explanation was especially enlightening. OK, back to my blogs. Thanks for more great training Cenay.

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  5. Thank you so much Cenay for being the resident expert in my Skype chat room for Bloggers. And I am very happy to see you mention my Skype Room for Blog Support here on your blog FAQ.

    It is good to see you using Skype like I do – to add value to content on blogs and to share what we do and what we learn in Skype chat with the world.

    More people should join while there is still room in the Skype chat. I plan on blogging more about it soon to let others know about your most amazing blog support, and Q&A you provide in this Skype chat room of mine.

    Thanks for all you do Cenay! You are Awesome.

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  8. You have literally saved my life lol. I’m changing themes and I was SO close to thinking of changing to another theme because of this. I was about to go crazy! The new theme was showing the content of the entire page on my homepage. It was messy and horrible. Anyway, thank you so much!

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