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WordPress Guide

WordPress Guide

Here is page 1 of our WordPress Guide -- you'll find this info is vital for correct blog setup. On this page is a collection of very useful WordPress tips that anyone who has installed three or four WP sites will know, but are remarkably hard to find for beginners. All the most important WordPress tips you need immediately are here.

For example, the very first jobs you will need to do are to have short posts on the front page, and turn on SEF URLs (short URLs - relevant, sensible page addresses) of your preferred format -- but it is impossible to find out how to do these basic tasks without extensive research.

This WordPress Guide applies to WP 2.7.1 version onward, the latest version at the time of writing. This version is a major improvement on earlier ones and you need to upgrade in order to get the full benefit of many advances.

How to get short posts on the front page of WordPress

Here is a job you'll want to do, that is hard to find out how to fix. You probably prefer to just have a short intro for about 10 posts, with just the first para showing on the front page. So: how to get just the first paragraph (an excerpt or precis) to show up, and not the entire post?

Simple when you know: in the text editor, show Kitchen Sink (ie the whole kit and caboodle - all possible icons). Place the cursor at the end of the first paragraph or wherever you want to break it, click there, and hit the More icon - it looks like a page with a line cutting off the top third.

If you have an old version of WP or something, then you can switch to HTML view (source code view) and insert this pagebreak tag at the point where you want the text to break:


Now, anything below that line won't show up on page 1. Good eh?

Enable SEF URLs in WordPress

To activate short URLs in WordPress we only have to change some internal settings in the backend admin, it's not necessary to do anything else. WP is an excellent application in this regard.

There is a right and wrong way to set up short URLs for WordPress. For example, there are technical reasons why these must start with a number and not just be a plain page name. So, start the URL with a number of some kind, such as the post ID, the year/month/day, or even just the year. Like this for example:


There are technical reasons for this, and you should note that WORDPRESS MAY NOT FUNCTION CORRECTLY IF YOU IGNORE THIS.

There are issues here with poor database structure resulting, extended load time on busy sites, incorrect identification of the content item, inability to associate the CSS stylesheet with the page - and more. WordPress needs an URL to start with a numeric denominator not a letter.

Go to: Dashboard >> Settings >> Permalinks >> Common Settings >> Custom Structure >> enter text as follows, in the box:-

[ slash - the post # - slash - the post title - .html]

This will give an URL like:

If you enter the text string without a leading slash, WP inserts it, as it must have that.

WordPress htaccess file

WordPress doesn't need you to create an htaccess file -- it does that itself. It automatically creates one as required. This is a brilliant system and it would be marvelous if other webapps could do this. So, if there is no htaccess file, WP creates one (or tries to).

However, this doesn't always happen since if the server settings are incorrect, it can't create the file as it may not be allowed to write to the webroot. In this case, use this file instead and FTP it to your webroot:

## BEGIN WordPress htaccess
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

Have the text start right at the top of the file. To create an htaccess file on a Windows PC, you need to create a text file, and call it 1.htaccess

Then, when it's up on the server, change its name to .htaccess (that's DOT htaccess) by removing the 1. For more info on this see:
how to create an htaccess file

What is the best SEO plugin for WordPress ?

You will need an SEO plugin because database-driven website software has all sorts of issues that can only be fixed by aftermarket add-ons. Normally the URLs have to be fixed but this is not needed in WP, it is excellent in this respect, and the URLs are perfect.

However, this does not apply to other areas such as metadata and duplicate pages, which need sorting out. There are two good plugins you might use, the All-in-one-SEO Pack, and the Platinum SEO Pack. Currently, the latter has some advantages. We refer to this lower down the page as P-SEO.

Best template for WordPress

There are lots of WP templates, some better than others. You can certainly find good ones for free. It's best to use a right-column one like the original default template, as this is best for SEO - there are negatives to using a left-column menu.

If you want to have adverts on the site, then you'll need a 3-column template or one with other module ad placements. In WordPress, the templates are called 'themes'. Just search 'wordpress themes', 'three column wordpress themes', and so on.

The best templates are widgetised, that is, they are ready to have the core WP widgets used. This is simply the name for modules in the WP project. These modules publish different content in the sidebars for example - such as a recent posts list, tag list, etc.

Setting up static Pages in WordPress

You'll need some static pages on the site, for your About page, Links, Contact details and so on. These are called 'Pages' in WordPress, ie with an initial capital letter. Set these up by going to the Pages section in the backend, and create them there. Don't forget to fill the meta for them in the P-SEO settings, at Settings >> P-SEO (scroll right down the page).

If you are using a .html extension for your web pages (as we advise), then you'll need a special plugin to fix this on your static Pages - it can't be done in the WP backend, unlike for blog pages. See our plugin guide for this.

How to change the editor font

By default, the visual editor in the WP admin backend (which is a skinned version of TinyMCE) comes with a funny old newspaper font, Georgia, displaying in the editor pane. This is amusing at first but becomes increasingly annoying. To change it to a modern font (we suggest Verdana), fix the editor CSS via FTP or the cPanel file manager.

Go to the folder >> wp-includes >> js >> tinymce >> wordpress.css

Download this CSS file and open it in a text editor. Change it as follows - around line 53, change it to read:

body.mceContentBody {
    font: 13px/19px Verdana, sans-serif;
    padding: 0.6em;
    margin: 0;

You must clear your browser cache before you will see the font change.

What are WordPress widgets?

A 'widget' is simply the WP name for a module - the name normally given to this type of plugin in other CMS projects. Or in Drupal CMS it's called a block. It means a plugin that performs a function of some kind and displays the result in a separate block of content on the page. Several widgets are built in as standard, and plenty more are available as plugins.

A template needs to be 'widgetised' in order to use these modules - the crudest templates cannot display any modules. Indeed one of the measures of the sophistication of a CMS template is how many modules it can display if required (and these must of course be collapsible, ie invisible if not used). Some of the most capable can display over 40 modules.

As a CMS - more accurately, in the micro-cms class - WordPress is in the early stages of growth. This means that several obvious functions are still missing at this stage. For example, you have to hack the code by altering files in order to get modules (widgets) to display as required. In all mature CMS, this of course is done by backend admin switches, hacking the code is not required (or of course desirable). We can expect that WP will include this functionality at some stage as it gradually matures.

What does the sidebar calendar do?

It shows dates on which you published a post - not today's date or whatever. For this reason it's a bit confusing and many people don't use it.

Also, it may not display correctly unless you have post dates in your chosen URL structure.
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