The blog roll can be a very important section of your site. It is the central location where people find all of your content. However, by default, WordPress uses the entire post in your blog roll and this can sometimes be a bad experience for your visitors. We can get around this negative experience by using post excerpts instead.
A post excerpt is an optional summary or description of a post. In order to properly set up post excerpts, we need to take a variety of different steps to ensure that it’s set up properly. The first thing we need to do is visit the Settings menu and go to Reading settings. In here you’ll see only a couple of options. You’re looking for the section that says, “For each article in a feed, show.” By default, full text is selected. Select summary instead and then update the changes.
The second step we need to take in order to use post excerpts is to turn on the visibility of the feature in the content editor. To do that, navigate to the top right-hand corner and select Screen Options. Here’s a menu that drops down and features a bunch of checkboxes that you can use to turn on and off the visibility of certain features in the content editor. The fifth one from the left is called Excerpt. Clicking this will turn on its visibility.
Now, when you scroll down below the content editor, you’ll notice another section called Excerpt. This is the area where you can put in the optional handcrafted summary of your content which, depending on your theme, can be used in a variety of ways.
I’m going to go ahead and stick this content right here into the post excerpt section. This is the summary that will display on my blog roll. I can go ahead and update my content by clicking the Update button here.
As stated earlier though, it does depend on the theme whether or not your excerpt shows up properly. In the default WordPress theme for example, excerpts don’t show by default. With these themes, we’ll need to take one extra step to highlight the summary that we’d like to use for the content.
In the toolbar at the top of the content editor, next to the spell check button is the insert more tag button. This is the button we’re going to click to highlight where our summary takes place.
To select the summary, find the area and the text that you would like to use from the top down. In this case I’m just going to use these two paragraphs here. Right after the period I’m going to go ahead and hit the insert more tag. This is an invisible line to the rest of the world and it highlights where in the post I’d like the summary to be.
Now we’re going to go ahead and hit Update. I’ve gone ahead and taken these steps with the other posts in the blog as well. As you can see, the posts are only displayed by the summary that we’ve selected and not by the entire post. If your viewers like the summary, they can click the Continue Reading button and be taken to the entire post where they can get all of the information that you had to share.