The central activity you’ll be doing with your blog is adding posts. A post is like an article in a magazine; it’s got a title, content, and an author (you). If a blog is like an online diary, then every post is an entry in that diary. A blog post also has a lot of other information attached to it, such as a date and categories. In this article, you will learn how to create a new post and what kind of information you can attach to it.
Adding a simple post
Let’s review the process of adding a simple post to your blog. Whenever you want to do maintenance on your WordPress website, you have to start by logging in to the WP Admin (WordPress Administration panel) for your site. To get to the admin panel, just point your web browser to http://yoursite.com/wp-admin.
Remember that if you have installed WordPress in a subfolder (for example, blog), then your URL has to include the subfolder (that is, http://yoursite.com/blog/wp-admin).
When you first log into the WP Admin, you’ll be at the Dashboard. The Dashboard has a lot of information on it. The very top bar, which I’ll refer to as the top menu, is mostly dark grey and on the left, of course, is the main menu. The top menu and the main menu exist on every page within the WP Admin. The main section on the right contains information for the current page you’re on. In this case, we’re on the Dashboard. It contains boxes that have a variety of information about your blog, and about WordPress in general.
The quickest way to get to the Add New Post page at any time is to click on the New Post link at the top of the page in the top bar (top menu).
This is the Add New Post page:
To quickly add a new post to your site, all you have to do is:
- Type in a title into the text field under Add New Post (for example, Making Lasagne).
- Type the text of your post in the content box. Note that the default view is Visual, but you actually have a choice of the HTML view as well.
- Click on the Publish button, which is at the far right. Note that you can choose to save a draft or view a preview of your post.
In the following image, the title field, the content box, and the Publish button of the Add New Post page are highlighted:
Once you click on the Publish button, you have to wait while WordPress performs its magic. You’ll see yourself still on the Edit Post page, but now the following message has appeared telling you that your post was published and giving you a link to View post:
If you go to the front page of your site, you’ll see that your new post has been added at the top (newest posts are always at the top):
Common post options
Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of adding a post, let’s investigate some of the other options on the Add New Post page. In this section we’ll look at the most commonly used options, and in the next section we’ll look at the more advanced options.
Categories and tags
Categories and tags are two similar types of information that you can add to a blog post. We use them to organize the information in your blog by topic and content (rather than just by, say, date), and to help visitors find what they are looking for on your blog.
Categories are primarily used for structural organizing. They can be hierarchical. A relatively busy blog will probably have at least 10 categories, but probably not more than 15 or 20. Each post in this blog will likely have one to four categories assigned to it. For example, a blog about food might have these categories: Cooking Adventures, In The Media, Ingredients, Opinion, Recipes Found, Recipes Invented, and Restaurants.
Tags are primarily used as shorthand for describing the topics covered in a particular blog post. A relatively busy blog will have anywhere from 15 to 30 tags in use. Each post in this blog will likely have three to ten tags assigned to it. For example, a post on the food blog about a recipe for butternut squash soup may have these tags: soup, vegetarian, autumn, hot, easy.
Let’s add a new post to the blog. This time, we’ll give it not only a title and content, but also tags and categories. When adding tags, just type your list of tags into the Tags box on the right, separated by commas:
Then click on the Add button. The tags you just typed in will appear below the text field with little xs next to them. You can click on an x to delete a tag. Once you’ve used some tags in your blog, you’ll be able to click on the Choose from the most popular tags link in this box so that you can easily re-use tags.
Categories work a bit differently than tags. Once you get your blog going, you’ll usually just check the boxes next to existing categories in the Categories box. In this case, as we don’t have any existing categories, we’ll have to add one or two.
In the Categories box on the right, click on the + Add New Category link. Type your category into the text field and click on the Add button. Your new category will show up in the list, already checked. Look at the following screenshot:
If in the future you want to add a category that needs a parent category, select Parent category from the pull-down menu before clicking on the Add button. If you want to manage more details about your categories, move them around, rename them, assign parent categories, and assign descriptive text. You can do this on the Categories page, which we’ll see in detail later in this article.
Now fill in your title and content here:
Click on the Publish button and you’re done. When you look at the front page of your site, you’ll see your new post on the top, your new category in the sidebar, and the tags and category (that you chose for your post) listed under the post itself:
Adding an image to a post
You may often want to have an image show up in your post. WordPress makes this very easy. Let’s add an image to the post we just created. You can click on Edit underneath your post on the front page of your site to get there quickly. Alternatively, go back to the WP Admin, open Posts in the main menu, and then click on Edit underneath your new post.
To add an image to a post, first you’ll need to have that image on your computer. Before you get ready to upload an image, make sure that your image is optimized for the Web. Huge files will be uploaded slowly and slow down the process of viewing your site. You can re-size and optimize images using software such as GIMP or Photoshop. For the example in this article, I have used a photo of butternut squash soup that I have taken from the website where I got the recipe, and I know it’s on the desktop of my computer. Once you have a picture on your computer and know where it is, follow these steps to add the photo to your blog post:
- Click on the little photo icon, which is next to the word Upload/Insert and below the box for the title:
- In the box that appears, click on the Select Files button and browse to your image. Then click on Open and watch the uploader bar. When it’s done, you’ll have a number of fields you can fill in:
- Now click on Insert into Post. This box will disappear, and your image will show up in the post on the edit page itself:
- Now click on the Update Post button and go look at the front page of your site again. There’s your image!
The only fields that are important right now are Title, Alignment, and Size. Title is a description for the image, Alignment will tell the image whether to have text wrap around it, and Size is the size of the image. As you can see, I’ve chosen the Right alignment and the Thumbnail size.
You may be wondering about those image sizes. What if you want bigger or smaller thumbnails? You can set the pixel dimensions of your uploaded images and other preferences by opening Settings in the main menu and then clicking on Media. This takes you to the Media Settings page:
Here you can specify the size of the uploaded images for:
If you change the dimensions on this page and click on the Save Changes button, only images you upload in the future will be affected. Images you’ve already uploaded to the site will have had their thumbnail, medium, and large versions created already using the old dimensions.
Using the Visual editor versus the HTML editor
WordPress comes with a Visual editor, otherwise known as a WYSIWYG editor (pronounced wissy-wig, which stands for What You See Is What You Get). This is the default editor for typing and editing your posts. If you’re comfortable with HTML, you may prefer to write and edit your posts using the HTML editor—particularly useful if you want to add special content or styling.
To switch from the rich text editor to the HTML editor, click on the HTML tab next to the Visual tab at the top of the content box:
You’ll see your post in all its raw HTML glory and you’ll get a new set of buttons that lets you quickly bold and italicize text as well as add link code, image code, and so on.
You can make changes and swap back and forth between the tabs to see the result.
If you want the HTML tab to be your default editor, you can change this on your Profile page. Navigate to Users | Your Profile, and select the Disable the visual editor when writing checkbox.
Drafts, timestamps, and managing posts
There are three additional, simple but common, items I’d like to cover in this section: drafts, timestamps, and managing posts.
WordPress gives you the option to save a draft of your post so that you don’t have to publish it right away but can still save your work. If you’ve started writing a post and want to save a draft, just click on the Save Draft button at the right (in the Publish box), instead of the Publish button. Even if you don’t click on the Save Draft button, WordPress will attempt to save a draft of your post for you about once a minute. You’ll see this in the area just below the content box. The text will say Saving Draft… and then the time of the last draft saved:
At this point, after a manual save or an auto-save, you can leave the Edit Post page and do other things. You’ll be able to access all of your draft posts from the Dashboard or from the Edit Posts page.
WordPress will also let you alter the timestamp of your post. This is useful if you are writing a post today that you wish you’d published yesterday, or if you’re writing a post in advance and don’t want it to show up until the right day. The default timestamp will always be set to the moment you publish your post. To change it, just find the Publish box and click on the Edit link (next to the calendar icon and Publish immediately), and fields will show up with the current date and time for you to change:
Change the details, click on the OK button, and then Publish your post (or save a draft).
If you want to see a list of your posts so that you can easily skim and manage them, you just need to go to the Edit Posts page in the WP Admin by navigating to Posts in the main menu. You’ll see a detailed list of your posts, as seen in the next screenshot:
There are so many things you can do on this page! You can:
- Choose a post to edit—click on a post title and you’ll go back to the main Edit Post page
- Quick-edit a post—click on the Quick Edit link for any post and new options will appear right in the list, which will let you edit the title, timestamp, categories, tags, and more
- Delete one or more posts—click on the checkboxes next to the posts you want to delete, choose Delete from the Bulk Actions drop-down menu at the bottom, and click on the Apply button
- Bulk edit posts—choose Edit from the Bulk Actions menu at the bottom, click on the Apply button, and you’ll be able to assign categories and tags to multiple posts, as well as edit other information about them
You can experiment with the other links and options on this page. Just click on the pull-down menus and links, and see what happens.